New BizTalk Server Adds Management ToolsNew BizTalk Server Adds Management Tools
The new version includes a wizard that simplifies server configuration for small suppliers using the product, the ability for apps written in Visual Studio.Net and BizTalk Server to call components from one another, and more automated copying of files from development and test servers to deployment machines.
February 4, 2002
Microsoft Monday is releasing BizTalk Server 2002, the second version of its application integration software. The price remains $25,000 per CPU for BizTalk Server Enterprise Edition and $5,000 for the standard edition, which supports only one CPU.
The new version includes a wizard that simplifies server configuration for small suppliers using the product, the ability for apps written in Visual Studio.Net and BizTalk Server to call components from one another, and more automated copying of files from development and test servers to deployment machines. Customers may also use Microsoft Operations Manager, an event monitoring program for system administrators, to track the performance of BizTalk 2002.The new software allows administrators to send trading partners an XML document called a "seed," which contains information about the configuration and connections of a BizTalk server running at the hub of a trading network. The hub and spoke servers then exchange a series of communications tests, followed by a message clearing them for transactions. Another management feature: Microsoft's Application Center server management tool?for replicating files from development and test servers to deployment?now recognizes document schema, ports, and BizTalk Server objects, and can publish those files to a cluster of computers. Microsoft claims more than 800 customers are using BizTalk Server 2000, released a year ago, including Ford Motor Co., Merrill Lynch & Co., and Deutsche Bank AG. Most customers use the software for internal application integration, says Microsoft product manager Dave Wascha.Paul Combellick, a software consultant at Sequencia Corp. in Phoenix, Ariz., which sells an online process manufacturing app to customers including Dow Chemical, Procter & Gamble, and Eastman Chemical, says BizTalk helps address the complexity of making ERP systems flexible for customers. Sequencia's ProcessPoint app lets engineers describe recipes for batch food products or specialty chemicals in XML format, then stay in touch with contract manufacturers or colleagues in their own company's manufacturing department during production. The process involves exchanging data between Sequencia's Windows and Web modules, and ERP systems at customer sites. The ability to customize those systems - an asset for users - often causes headaches for programmers."When you're looking at a system like SAP, which is virtually infinitely flexible, it's not really practical for us to figure out what form the data should take," Combellick says. "There will always have to be some EAI work." Sequencia uses Microsoft's BizTalk Server 2000 as its EAI engine, and Microsoft Message Queue software to connect ProcessPoi nt to BizTalk and other integration servers. Often, customers need to update SAP R/3 systems with data from ProcessPoint, adding custom properties to data objects. BizTalk Server includes visual data mapping capabilities that account for changes users make to their data formats. "The people who can configure these maps don't have to be hard-core C++ programmers," says Combellick. "Most IT shops don't have those kind of resources around."
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