Microsoft hands BizTalk Server 2006 to manufacturers

Enterprise edition almost $5,000 more per CPU, compared with BizTalk Server 2004.

Microsoft Corp. Monday released a new version of its BizTalk Server integration software to manufacturing.

BizTalk Server 2006, software for integrating business processes across the enterprise through XML (Extensible Markup Language), will be generally available to customers on May 1, said Steven Martin, a Microsoft director of product management.

One of the biggest differences between the new version and its former release BizTalk Server 2004 is the pricing and packaging. Microsoft is including 14 technology adapters that connect BizTalk Server 2006 to back-end applications such as PeopleSoft and Oracle Application Suite, Martin said. As a result, the pricing for the enterprise edition of the product has increased from US$25,000 per CPU (central processing unit) to $29,999, he said. But this price is still far less than it would be if a customer purchased BizTalk and all the new adapters separately, since the cost of the adapters alone would run about $180,000, Martin said.

Some of the new adapters included in BizTalk Server 2006 are ones Microsoft purchased from iWay Software Inc. last year, he added.

The pricing for the Developer Edition of the product, which is for development and testing only, has dropped since the previous version, Martin said. It now costs $499 per user or is free for developers with a Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) Universal subscription. The developer version of BizTalk Server 2004 had cost $799 per user.

BizTalk also comes in a Standard Edition, which is limited to two CPUs on a single server and five BizTalk applications, for $8,499 per CPU.

Enhancements to BizTalk Server 2006 include a single management console for configuring, deploying, managing and monitoring BizTalk Server applications and an updated management pack for use with Microsoft Operations Manager 2005. The software also includes one-click start and stop operations for deploying and undeploying BizTalk applications and a new, customizable business activity monitoring portal built on ASP.NET 2.0 technology.

Because of an "aggressive" beta process for the software, 50 customers already are using BizTalk Server 2006 in production, he said. In all, about 6,000 customers have deployed some version of BizTalk Server in their business.

Customers that already are using the software include Gulf Coast Seal Ltd., a Houston company that manufactures and distributes sealing material for the oil and gas industry.

Jeff Lynch, e-commerce manager with Gulf Coast Seal, said the company began moving its applications to Beta 2 of BizTalk Server about six months ago. The company has been a BizTalk customer since 2003, using the product to set up an automated purchase order and invoice system for its customers.

Lynch said his company has drastically reduced the costs of handling customer orders -- from about $50 to $75 per order to $0.03 per order -- since deploying BizTalk.

"In the last three years we’ve been able to grow our business over 25 percent each year and we haven’t had to add any new inside sales people," he said.