BizTalk Server 2009 To Arrive Before July

Advance notice given to help companies make long-term plans

Microsoft on Friday described its next service-oriented architecture (SOA) solution -- BizTalk Server 2009 -- which is "on track for availability during the first half of 2009," according to the company's announcement.

Microsoft is giving advance notice because many organizations plan their SOA projects as much as five years in the future, according to Oliver Sharp, Microsoft's general manager for BizTalk Server. Sharp provided some additional details, as described in Microsoft's press release.

One plan is for Microsoft to release a new version of BizTalk Server every two years, Sharp said. A community technology preview of the next BizTalk Server product is currently available, but just to "select customers," he added. However, Microsoft plans a "broader CTP later this calendar year." Sharp didn't specify an exact date.

The current version of the product is BizTalk Server 2006 R2.

In addition to BizTalk Server 2009, a next-generation SOA solution is already being planned, Sharp said. Microsoft expects to release more information on that solution, called "BizTalk Server 7," sometime in early 2009.

One element expected to enhance BizTalk is Microsoft's Oslo project. Oslo is a yet to be released visual modeling solution that may simplify life for architects and developers. Users of the current BizTalk Server 2006 R2 version will be able to use Oslo "to leverage and compose your services into new composite applications," Sharp said.

Sharp emphasized the integration of BizTalk Server with the overall Microsoft stack. In particular, BizTalk Server 2009 will take advantage the company's big product wave launch, including .NET Framework 3.5, Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008. BizTalk also works with Microsoft's Windows Communication Foundation, a SOA programming model that Sharp helped to develop.

Long-time SOA observer Jason Bloomberg, who is managing partner of the ZapThink consultancy, noted that the latest BizTalk Server will enable Web Services integration with better UDDI support. However, he added a caveat on Microsoft's news.

"Make no mistake -- Microsoft is moving away from SOA, not toward it," Bloomberg said. "BizTalk is an integration tool that leverages Web services for standards-based integration, but offers little that helps organizations build the flexible services that abstract heterogeneous environments that form the core of a true SOA implementation.

"Furthermore, when Microsoft talks about 'real world SOA,' what they really mean is Web services integration that leverages the Microsoft architecture, which has little if anything to do with SOA," he added.

Bloomberg didn't put Microsoft at the top of the list of SOA vendors. His short list included IBM, Software AG, and Progress Software, "and possibly Oracle if they can integrate their numerous acquisitions properly."

To some degree, BizTalk Server 2009 will aim for greater product interoperability beyond just Microsoft's stack, according to Microsoft's announcement. It will include adapters for the Oracle E-Business Suite, plus it will integrate with IBM's MQ messaging system, CICS application servers, and IMS database management system.

Microsoft currently has more than 8,200 BizTalk customers, Sharp said, with more than 1,500 partners supporting BizTalk globally. The customer base has doubled over the last four years, he added.

For more information on Microsoft's overall road map for BizTalk Server, go here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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