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Microsoft product oils the wheels of business

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Microsoft has launched the latest version of BizTalk Server 2006 R2, its core service-oriented architecture (SOA) and business process management (BPM) technology that makes it easier for companies to connect systems within their own organizations and across those of trading partners.

BizTalk Server 2006 R2 allows diverse systems inside and outside the business to talk to each other without complex and costly integration – enabling companies to achieve a true Service Oriented Architecture and pervasive business process automation. What this means is that customers can choose how they want to connect and improve their critical business applications, platforms, people and trading partners, and get more out of their existing IT investments.
Manoj Bhoola, business group executive for Microsoft SA’s Server and Tools Business, says that connecting applications within an organisation is important, but connecting applications that span organisations can have just as much value. Using technologies like  built-in radio frequency identification (RFID), companies can literally automate their entire supply chain, from the factory to the storefront. This is a huge step for manufacturers and retailers.
“For customers to successfully extend their core business processes to reach across applications, partners and platforms, they need a way to connect their existing systems regardless of vendor, age, platform, protocol and geography,” says Bhoola. “With BizTalk Server 2006 R2, customers choose how they want to connect applications, platforms and people."
The availability of BizTalk Server 2006 R2 underscores Microsoft’s long-term commitment to deliver extensive SOA and BPM capabilities as part of the overall Microsoft application platform. The platform spans products and technologies to develop, deploy and manage applications and IT infrastructure across the organization locally and worldwide.
Also featured in R2 is out-of-the-box support for business-to-business integration standards, including EDI, the HIPAA and HL7 standards for healthcare, and SWIFT for financial trading. Pre-built classes and schemas are featured with users able to integrate BizTalk Server with partners' systems compliant with these standards. Real-time visibility is provided into supply chain operations.
One of the compelling features of BizTalk Server R2 is the increased EDI capability, which customers will now be able to get from a single vendor instead of having to go to multiple vendors. EDI basically runs industries like retail and health care.
For developers, Microsoft is linking parts of the .Net Framework – the ECF (Windows Communication Foundation) and Windows Workflow Foundation – to BizTalk Server, enabling developers to develop composite applications, such as a front-end system that brings data from multiple back-end systems.
Bhoola says the new release is effectively extending business process “to the edge” – branch locations, business partners and vertical supply chains. An end-to-end integrated supply chain allows organizations to drive maximum efficiency through visibility into critical business processes and tighter collaboration with trading partners. With native support for EDI and RFID, BizTalk Server 2006 R2 provides the ability to gather data from the edge of the enterprise, enabling real-time visibility across business processes and trading partners.
BizTalk Server 2006 R2 provides the infrastructure to connect existing applications (regardless of the platform) and to compose, expose, and consume new services. This allows you to get more out of the investments you have already made and minimize the cost of integrating the new pieces of technology you have acquired. Because BizTalk Server includes tools to connect both proprietary and standards-based systems and pre-integrates with the Microsoft .NET Framework, BizTalk Server is a central part of any SOA strategy.
Additionally, a broad array of technology and application adapters is available for BizTalk Server. With out-of-the-box support for everything from transport protocols such as FTP, SOAP, and MQSeries, to high-level integration with line-of-business applications such as PeopleSoft, SAP, and Siebel, companies can choose they you want to connect applications, platforms, and people.
“Linking systems together has become the norm, but connecting software is about more than just exchanging data. As modern organizations move toward a service-oriented world, the real goal of creating effective business processes that merge diverse systems into a coherent whole is now within reach,” says Bhoola.