The BizTalk Server 2009 beta is the first public test version of Microsoft's latest services oriented architecture (SOA)-based integration platform. Microsoft indicated in September that the beta release was imminent. The live version is still on pace to ship in the first half of 2009, said Burley Kawasaki, a director with Microsoft's connected systems division.
"It's a feature complete release," Kawasaki said. "We're looking forward to gaining a lot more feedback on the release as part of finalizing it." The beta is available for download from Microsoft's Connect Web site to existing BizTalk customers subscribing to Microsoft's Software Assurance licensing program.
There are no major surprises in the release, commented Forrester analyst Ken Vollmer, but it is an important upgrade. "BizTalk has been widely used for low-end b-to-b connectivity, but it's gradually maturing and growing into a much more capable product in the enterprise integration space," Vollmer said.
BizTalk Server 2009 supports the latest versions of Microsoft's platform, notably the Windows Communications Foundation (WCF) component of the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1. With that comes support for Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and the latest releases of SQL Server and Windows Server. It also will support native Hyper-V, improved clustering, improved failover clustering, and added adaptors and host integration interfaces. It has a new registry based on the UDDI 3.0 specifications.
For development organizations, BizTalk Server 2009's new application lifecycle management capability includes support for Microsoft's Team Foundation Server, which the company said lets teams leverage integrated source code, track bugs, and integrate with Project Server. It also supports the automation of builds via the company's MSBuild platform.
Developers performing custom .NET development can now connect to BizTalk and map any artifacts that BizTalk manages into their applications, according to Kawasaki. "Those can now be managed just like you would source code," he said.
As part of today's rollout, Microsoft also released the BizTalk RFID Standards Pack and RFID Mobile. The former is a BizTalk server module that supports key RFID standards including Rag Data Translation (TDT) and Low Level Reader Protocol (LLRP). The latter runs on Windows Mobile and Windows CE-based devices.
RFID Mobile provides a common API for all device types running the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework and remote management of those devices, said Anush Kumar, CTO and director of business development at Portland, Ore.-based S3Edge Inc., a Microsoft business partner that is building out RFID implementations using BizTalk server including the Rite Care pharmacy chain in India.
"It gives you an object model to write rich applications on top," said Kumar, who until April of this year was one of the original members of the RFID development team in Microsoft's Connected Systems division. Kumar and several other team members have joined S3 Edge, a startup that sees a growing market for mobile RFID-based implementations.
"The RFID space has relied heavily on custom integration code," Kumar said. "Our platform completely lowers the need to do that. We are building those templates that let customers configure and deploy in a rapid amount of time."
Finally, Microsoft has also issued a community technology preview of its updated its Enterprise Service Bus Guidance 2.0, В which includes new documentation and best practices for building SOA-based applications.
"We are taking advantage of some of the new Visual Studio capabilities and adding some new visual tooling to define and update your enterprise service bus topology inside Visual Studio," Kawasaki said. Also available is a new Web-based portal "that allows developers to add publishers or subscribers onto the bus without any development work. It's a self-service model."
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