BizTalk 2006 deftly connects enterprise apps
Boasting across-the-board improvements, BizTalk 2006 carries on product line's rich EAI heritage
Suppose you’re the new CIO at an enterprise-scale company that has “islands of automation” for accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory control, sales, support, and HR, and your goal is to integrate all business processes.
Make the nightmare more realistic: Your 35 major suppliers use a variety of ordering and billing systems, hosted on every operating system and database that has been in use for the past 10 years. They don’t even all use the same data exchange standards. Cap that all off with a mini-rebellion by your independent customer representatives, who have started to use Salesforce.com for customer relations.
What to do?
If you have your IT department build custom point-to-point connectors for every current pair of internal and external systems that needs to be integrated, it might be finished sometime in the next decade -- and by then most of the end points will have changed. What you need is some kind of hub-and-spoke or bus architecture to make the tangled problem manageable.
BizTalk acts as a hub to connect many different systems through a central XML-based messaging and orchestration engine. Through the use of adapters, messages can be connected to the various systems, represented as different shapes below the Messaging box. BizTalk 2006 ships with about 23 (see “Highly Adaptable” infographic). Additional adapters -- for Salesforce.com, for example -- can be purchased from Microsoft ISVs.
BizTalk has functionality for many different roles. Developers build BizTalk applications in Visual Studio 2005, consisting of a number of artifacts, including XML schemas, mappings, orchestrations, pipelines, and business rules. IT professionals deploy, configure, and monitor BizTalk applications using the BizTalk Server Administration Console, and possibly Microsoft Operations Manager. Business users can view business activity through a customizable Web dashboard or through an Excel add-in.
The bundling of BizTalk artifacts into deployable applications is one of the major improvements in BizTalk 2006 over BizTalk 2004. Others include significantly easier installations and upgrades, a management console for IT, the aforementioned business dashboard, and integration with SharePoint. BizTalk 2006 ships with a much enlarged suite of adapters, including adapters for many line-of-business applications. It also takes full advantage of 64-bit processors, and it leverages the improved performance of SQL Server 2005 and .NET Framework 2.0 over their predecessors.
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