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Microsoft Tags The Business Process

Microsoft today said it will ship its BizTalk Server 2006 Release 2 in the first half of 2007.

BizTalk Server 2006 R2, a business process management (BPM) server that helps customers integrate applications within Microsoft environments, connects radio frequency identification (RFID) devices to business processes.

RFID is a red-hot technology for automatic identification, relying on storing and retrieving data using RFID tags or transponders.

Many high-tech companies have been experimenting with ways to add RFID capabilities to their hardware and software, preparing for what analysts have said will be a multi-billion-dollar market for RFID tools.

In this scenario, Microsoft is using RFID to help customers connect their supply chains to their business processes with its BizTalk business process management server, said Burley Kawasaki, group product manager for BizTalk Server.

Specifically, the R2 release of BizTalk Server will integrate BizTalk RFID, new software that will make it easier to connect RFID devices and events to supply-chain processes and back-end business applications.

The software will include device abstraction and management capabilities to help customers manage and monitor devices, a plug-and-play approach that uses open application programming interfaces (API) .

BizTalk RFID also boasts an event processes engine to let customers create business rules and manage the choreography of event pipelines.

Microsoft, which competes with IBM, Oracle and BEA Systems in the BPM infrastructure market, is also hoping to help customers improve their integration chores with native support for integration protocols electronic data interchange (EDI) and AS2.

"A lot of the challenges in the BPM world are similar to what the telco world went through with the last mile dilemma, where people needed to invest in infrastructure and it never connected out to the end customer because of the copper wires in the last mile," Kawasaki told internetnews.com.

"BPM is sort of in the same boat, where a lot of companies are investing in the central office or to the backbone. But by including things like our RFID or our EDI technology, we can take it to the edge and connect it to the business processes."

Kawasaki also said that BizTalk Server 2006 R2 will support 2007 Microsoft Office and Windows Vista, including WinFX technologies, such as Windows Workflow Foundation and Windows Communication Foundation.

For example, BizTalk Server 2006 R2 will include an adapter framework on top of Windows Communication Foundation, allowing customers to build software adapters that help applications interoperate.

The planned upgrades, announced at the U Connect Conference for supply chain management in Nashville this morning, come in the wake of the launch of BizTalk Server 2006 in March.

Early previews of the technology will be available to customers and partners that can participate in the BizTalk Server 2006 R2 technology adoption program (TAP).

Microsoft is currently gauging customer and partner feedback to determine pricing and licensing for BizTalk Server 2006 R2.