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Microsoft Talks Up RFID, EDI Handling In Biztalk

Biztalk will also support AS2, the Internet Engineering Task Force standard for secure communications over the Internet using EDI.
Microsoft plans to upgrade its Biztalk Server 2006 integration software with Release 2, adding EDI legacy message system handling and support for RFID devices.

Microsoft is adding EDI support because so many customers still use electronic data interchange as their means of communication with business partners, Burley Kawasaki, group product manager for the upcoming Release 2 of Biztalk Server 2006, told attendees Tuesday at U Connect, a supply chain conference in Nashville.

Biztalk Server Release 2 also will support AS2, the Internet Engineering Task Force standard for secure communication over the Internet using EDI. Biztalk originally was launched as an XML message processing and integration server.

"EDI is still growing. It's not going away," Kawasaki said in an interview. Native support for EDI and AS2 significantly broadens the range of communications Biztalk can process, he said.

Release 2 also is being geared to keep up with the rapidly growing use of RFID devices in the supply chain, particularly among retailers and manufacturers. RFID users may test the RFID support in Release 2 through Microsoft's technology adoption program at http://connect.micorosft.com. Microsoft is seeking feedback from users before the mid-2007 release of Release 2, Kawasaki said.

Biztalk Server also is expanding its support of Windows Communication Foundation and Windows Workflow Foundation in Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. Users will be able to build customized adapters on top of Windows Communication Foundation, allowing Biztalk to make interoperability connections between Windows applications.

Such connections will enable business processes between a manufacturer and its suppliers or between business partners. Release 2 will help drive innovations in business processes "to the right device, the right information, and the right trading partner," he said.

The new support for RFID will make it easier to manage intelligent RFID devices. Biztalk will be able to connect real time RFID events fed into it to relevant supply chain processes, such as updating the warehouse inventory database and other back-end business systems.

It will include a plug-and-play architecture for dealing with RFID devices, monitoring and managing multiple devices in a uniform manner. Business rules may be applied to RFID messages, allowing them to be quickly integrated with business systems.

"In the past, we hadn't talked about how we would deliver RFID handling in Biztalk Server," Kawasaki said. It won't matter who supplies the RFID devices. Biztalk users will be able to interface to them through the same application programming interface as an other supplier, he said.

Ten months ago, the main discussion on Biztalk inside Microsoft was focused on its pending connections to Commerce Server as well.

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