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RealTime IT News

Microsoft Shines a BPM Light on The Small Ones

Emboldened by mass adoption for its BizTalk Server 2006 middleware by Fortune 500 businesses, Microsoft  said it has formed the Business Process Alliance (BPA) to make it easier for smaller businesses to employ business process management (BPM) software.

BPA is a group of 10 companies whose goal is to build BPM packages for smaller companies that haven't yet jumped onto the bandwagon.

BPM software helps distributed computing systems, such as service-oriented architectures (SOA) , arrange Web services  so that they are seamlessly exchanged between computers.

BPM products are important because they serve as something of a traffic cop to choreograph thousands of communications messages so they don't get gummed up as they traverse multiple networks.

Steven Martin, director of product management in Microsoft's Connected Systems Division, said the BPA is designed to help bring BizTalk Server 2006 and other vendors' products to customers outside the Fortune 500 companies Microsoft previously targeted.

Martin said the BPA will shatter BPM's barriers of entry for the smaller companies; these obstacles include cost, complexity and the ability to connect to other systems.

To extend BizTalk Server 2006 beyond its current customer base of more than 6,500 organizations, the software giant has added IDS Scheer, Fair Isaac, along with Amberpoint, Global 360, PNMSoft, RuleBurst, InRule, Acentn and Metastorm as partners.

Martin said forging partnerships with the sundry BPM vendors under the Business Process Alliance will help Microsoft round out its functionality and provide additional functionality in areas that are important to smaller customers.

"We've taken those learnings from the high-end and we're going to apply them and expose them to organizations well outside the Fortune 500 and Global 2000," Martin said.

BizTalk Server 2006, launched last March, runs on Windows Server, working with Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and hooking into Microsoft SharePoint Server.

Microsoft sees its BPM software as a key piece of infrastructure to facilitate distributed computing. Rival middleware providers Oracle and BEA Systems seem to agree on the importance of BPM.

Oracle  purchased Collaxa and injected its assets into its Fusion Middleware. Most recently, BEA nbsp;bought Fuego Systems to boost its BPM capabilities.

In related BPM news from Microsoft, the company said it will support BPEL 2.0  in its Workflow Foundation (WF) software, which is in the .NET Framework 3.0.

Formerly WinFX, .NET Framework 3.0 is the new managed code programming model for Windows, rolling WF, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows CardSpace.