RealTime IT News

Microsoft BizTalk Server 2009 Goes Deep

SOA

Microsoft is aiming to further strengthen its push into the enterprise with the public beta release of BizTalk Server 2009.

Announced together with the general availability of two RFID add-ons -- BizTalk RFID Mobile and the BizTalk RFID Standards Pack -- BizTalk Server 2009 offers integration with back-end systems such as the latest versions of various IBM (NYSE: IBM) mainframe and other enterprise products, and Oracle's (NASDAQ: ORCL) E-Business Suite.

The product, slated to ship in the first half of next year, also supports the latest Microsoft application platform technologies, including Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack One (SP1), Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1.

As a result, the release may better Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) position in the service-oriented architecture (SOA) field, while also giving BizTalk Server 2009 virtualization capabilities -- both areas that have long been seen as hot spots in enterprise IT spending.

The news comes as many enterprises during the past year began working with SOA, after several years of growing buzz around the concept. Microsoft, meanwhile, has long sought to position itself for a piece of the action, starting with the release of BizTalk Server 2006 Release 2 in September 2007.

Additionally, with BizTalk RFID Mobile and the BizTalk RFID Standards Pack in BizTalk Server 2009, Microsoft is also honing its bid for leadership in the RFID arena.

RFID, short for Radio Frequency Identification, uses radio waves to automatically store and retrieve data from specially designed tags, and is emerging as a technology useful for a slew of industries and applications, ranging from retailing to passports.

According to Microsoft, its products will make it easier to develop RFID applications, with BizTalk RFID Mobile enabling users to run applications that rely on RFID on their Windows Mobile and Windows CE mobile devices.

For Redmond, SOA is king

But it's in the buzz around the service-oriented architecture where Microsoft is aiming to shine.

BizTalk Server 2009 promises to make it easier to develop new connected processes and composite applications, both of which are critical to SOA, because it includes support for integrating with the Oracle E-Business Suite, Burley Kawasaki, director of product management at Microsoft, told InternetNews.com in an e-mail.

BizTalk Server 2009 also adds support for various IBM technologies may help Microsoft enhance its presence in the enterprise. The offering will work with the latest versions of Big Blue's Customer Information Control System (CICS), Information Management System (IMS), DB2, DB2/400, DB2 Universal Database and the WebSphere MQ. All are common back-end systems in the enterprise, the last being middleware that enables enterprises to exchange information across heterogeneous computer systems.

Additionally, Microsoft also hopes that BizTalk Server's emphasis on SOA will be strengthened by support for its various other technologies.

"BizTalk Server today is a core component of our Real World SOA offerings, but definitely not the only product that our customers would use as part of their architecture," Kawasaki said.

"Used in conjunction with other components of our Real World SOA application platform -- Windows Server, .NET, Visual Studio, SQL Server, and SharePoint -- BizTalk Server allows service-oriented applications to connect and interoperate to a wide range of highly heterogeneous systems, including line of business systems, legacy systems, smart devices and trading partners."

However, SOA may not be as much of a sure-fire route to success as was once thought. According to Evans Research, the economic recession will impact SOA deployments.

Yet because of its reliance on other Microsoft technologies, BizTalk Server 2009 may still be positioned for success, by tapping into another feature of interest to the enterprise -- virtualization.

The product will leverage the virtualization capabilities of Windows Server 2008, which will include Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor at a small charge.

Centering new efforts on virtualization could pay off handsomely for Microsoft. Research firm IDC has predicted that virtualization will be one of the major technologies of interest to corporations struggling to cope with the recession.