Microsoft readies BizTalk Server upgrades

Features include a new management console

Microsoft by mid-2006 plans to release a new version of its BizTalk Server business integration software, offering support for SQL Server 2005 and simplified management, among other features.

BizTalk Server 2006, formerly code-named Pathfinder, succeeds BizTalk Server 2004, which Microsoft introduced in March last year. BizTalk Server is designed to help users integrate applications and automate business processes and competes with products from vendors including IBM, BEA Systems and Tibco Software.

Until early last year, Microsoft had planned to make BizTalk Server part of a suite of products dubbed Jupiter that would have integrated BizTalk Server with Commerce Server and Content Management Server. The project was axed because customers saw no need for the suite, Microsoft has said.

BizTalk Server 2006 will build on the core architecture of BizTalk Server 2004, which users have said was a major improvement over its predecessor, BizTalk Server 2002. The 2006 edition will have a new management console and improved support for management, monitoring and deployment of the software, according to a road map for the product published by a BizTalk Server team member on his Web log.

Also, with BizTalk Server 2006 Microsoft plans to provide support for its SQL Server 2005 database, Visual Studio 2005 development tool and Virtual Server 2005. Additionally, there will be a BizTalk Server 2006 for systems with x86 processors with 64-bit extensions, as well as increased integration with SharePoint Services, according to the road map document.

Microsoft is also thinking beyond BizTalk Server 2006. The next product, which has yet to be named, will support the next major release of Windows Server, code-named Longhorn Server and due in 2007. Additionally, the future business integration server will offer improved business process management and enterprise and trading partner integration capabilities, which should make it easier to connect to business partners.

However, first on the release list for the BizTalk Server team is Service Pack 1 (SP1) for BizTalk Server 2004. After some glitches, SP1 is now due in the final week of January.

A Microsoft spokesman confirmed the authenticity of the road map document, which he said will soon be posted on Microsoft.com. He declined to provide a target shipping date for BizTalk Server 2006. However, Microsoft's product naming typically aligns with its financial year, which would indicate release of the product in the second half of 2005 or the first half of 2006. Microsoft's 2006 fiscal year ends June 30, 2006.

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