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Some interesting comments are starting to appear in advance of this, what has always been dubbed as, a point release launch.  In particular Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst with the SOA consulting firm ZapThink LLC, says the 2006 R2 release "adds a number of significant features with regards to loosely coupled styles of interaction [and] greater capabilities with regards to BizTalk Services, the hosted version, and a number of features that aid in process-driven service creation." Click here to link to full article. So what are these significant features? Well from my point of view these are (and in no particular order):

'Branch' Edition of BizTalk: This is a much needed version for a number of reasons, not least the support it offers for the push of BizTalk into the RFID world. Where this really helps, though, is allowing true loose coupling of systems across the enterprise, moving the connectivity features to the edge and really driving the Supply chain development  scenarios.

WCF/WF support: Rather belated but no less necessary we can now properly utilize these very important 'foundations'. What we are seeing here is a glimpse of where BizTalk is heading. Sadly but correctly, so we have to wait for later this year and the launch of the WCF based adapter framework for BizTalk for some real value. What we will have in September is the WCF adapter SDK, better support for messaging via web services and BAM for Windows Foundation.

SOA 'Support': Really the WCF stuff gives us a huge leg-up in this area plus adding the announcement of the SOA SKU - although the sceptic in me simply sees it as a way to sell a bunch of products in one hit. SOA SKU is described as: 

"BizTalk Server 2006 R2, SharePoint Server 2007, Visual Studio Team System, SQL Server 2005, the .NET Framework and four Office Business Applications Reference Application Packs, which are Microsoft guidelines for developing programs on top of Office 2007."

The SKU gives an overall 10% discount on the package.

Finally in this section we have Enterprise Service Bus Guidance - with this Microsoft provides prescriptive guidance coupled with pre-built reference architectures for Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). Basically a few years ago it would have been called the ESB accelerator! Based on BizTalk Server and WCF it should simplify and accelerate the development of service-oriented architectures. More importantly it's again a key pointer to what waits us down the line with the 'BizTalk' brand.

B to B: Back to the roots in a way where BTS 2000/2002 started with now a much more comprehensive EDI experience including AS2.

And finally the area that got me excited some 2 or 3 years ago...

RFID Platform: This is all about abstracting BizTalk to the edge and getting it to work with 'really' devices. Almost a SKU in its own right, now only time will tell where it will lead. As an aside here our experience in the world of RFID has been interesting to say the least. In the main industry is still at the TAG and Reader phase where thinking has not stretched to the enterprise wide benefits of RFID. What this 'lower cost' alternative should do is drive more 'clever' thinking in this area.


For a point release a lot has been packed in. My message is lets have more point releases but with an 18 month interval. 

Posted on Friday, August 3, 2007 4:29 AM | Back to top

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