Microsoft Tuesday laid out its roadmap for BizTalk Server, including support for RFID technology and integration with Vista and Office, and said the next release of the software will come in the first half of 2007.
The company said BizTalk Server 2006 R2 will include RFID support, which is the first time the company has explained how and when it plans to add the technology to its Windows Server System platform. The enhancements will be part of an upgrade release of BizTalk Server 2006, which shipped earlier this year.
Microsoft made the announcement at the U Connect Conference, which opened on Tuesday in Nashville and is focused on supply chain technology.
BizTalk Server 2006 R2 will feature APIs and hardware frameworks so third-party vendors can tie their RFID wares into the platform. In addition, the platform will include a set of business rules and events management capabilities so RFID events can be connected to back-end business processes.
“This is interesting for business process management where you take real-time events and link them to business processes,” says Burley Kawasaki, group product manager for BizTalk Server at Microsoft. “Traditionally BPM is only focused on corporate systems and has not extended to the edge where real-time processes occur. This allows you to connect the shop floor to enterprise systems like SAP or out to trading partners.”
In addition, Microsoft plans to add native support for electronic data interchange (EDI) and AS2 and will add integration with Vista and Office, which are both due to ship to corporate customers later this year.
All the upgrades to BizTalk are designed to extend Microsoft’s business process management platform to the edge of the network and beyond. They also are intended to deepen the integration of BizTalk with Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005.
Microsoft hopes the close integration of the three products, and other software in its platform lineup, will allow it to raise its reputation in the corporate data center and become the platform for critical corporate programs such as trading floor applications.
The BizTalk integration with Vista and Office will focus on two WinFX technologies, the Windows Communications Foundation and the Windows Workflow Foundation.
The Communications Foundation is Microsoft’s middleware technology to support Web services. Microsoft will provide an adapter framework to help customers build customized adapters to bring applications, such as from the mainframe, into a Web services infrastructure.
With the Workflow Foundation, users that build applications that integrate workflow can track those through BizTalk. The workflow engine in the server, however, is not built on the Workflow Foundation technology but a proprietary workflow engine specific to BizTalk. With R2, Microsoft is only supporting integration between the two. Future versions of the server will be built on the Workflow Foundation technology, the company said.
In Office, users will be able to link workflows like those supported in SharePoint Server 2007 for such things as document lifecycle into business processes and track those using BizTalk.
Microsoft did not announce pricing or licensing details or when the first beta would be available.
Early previews of the technology will be made available to customers and partners that participate in the BizTalk Server 2006 R2 technology adoption program (TAP).
Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.