Yesterday, Microsoft launched Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004, the third major version of the company's business-process automation and interoperability server product that adds scalability improvements, better developer tools, and access to a wider range of third-party server products. BizTalk Server 2004 solutions now run on the Windows .NET Framework, and Microsoft is touting a range of companies that have already deployed the product in live environments.
Indeed, Microsoft says that early adopters are a key to BizTalk Server 2004's success. "Our early adopters have seen rapid time to value from their BizTalk Server 2004 solutions, and we are excited about delivering these same results to more customers today," Ted Kummert, corporate vice president of the E-Business Servers Group, said. One such early adopter, the Virgin Group, uses BizTalk Server 2004 to reduce inventory loss in its multinational Virgin Megastores retail establishments; like many large companies, Virgin runs multiple disparate systems, often in remote locations.
So what's new in BizTalk Server 2004? This release includes a more scalable process-management engine that lets the product work effectively in even the largest corporate environments. Programmers can get up to speed more quickly by using the BizTalk Server 2004 developer tools that are now integrated into Visual Studio .NET 2003. For managers, a new Health and Activity Tracking (HAT) feature provides live monitoring capabilities. And a new Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) feature lets executives and knowledge workers track business processes by using familiar tools such as Microsoft Office Excel 2003 and Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003.
Unlike most Microsoft products, BizTalk Server is designed to work specifically with the heterogeneous server products that large enterprises employ, so it's compatible with today's most common server applications, including those from Ariba, PeopleSoft, and SAP. BizTalk Server 2004 uses XML-based software adapters to make this integration possible.