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BizTalk Server 2010 R2 CTP Available for Testing Via Windows Azure

Microsoft announced today that it has issued a community technology preview (CTP) of its BizTalk Server 2010 R2 product.

The CTP can be run natively in a computing environment by Microsoft's current Technology Adoption Program (TAP) customers, and those users have already prequalified to use it. Microsoft announced the availability of the CTP to its TAP customers in late June during TechEd. However, what's apparently newly announced today is that organizations that aren't TAP participants can now get their hands on the CTP by running it on Windows Azure, according to Microsoft's announcement, delivered in a blog post.

Microsoft is allowing broader access outside the TAP program, but the main catch is that Non-TAP testers have to run BizTalk Server 2010 R2 CTP in a virtual machine using Windows Azure. In order for Non-TAP testers to use the CTP, they need to set up a 90-day trial Windows Azure account. Once that's set up, they can use Windows Azure's management portal to create a virtual machine running the BizTalk Server 2010 R2 CTP. The steps to do that are outlined in this blog post.

Microsoft has been fairly quiet about BizTalk Server 2010 R2. Today's blog posts follow eight months of silence from the BizTalk Server team blog, although the company did show some demos of BizTalk Server 2010 R2 in June during Microsoft's TechEd events. A TechEd North America session covered integration; a TechEd Europe session by Karthik Bharathy, a Microsoft senior program manager on the BizTalk team, covered Microsoft's roadmap and using Windows Azure to run BizTalk Server 2010 R2.

BizTalk Server 2010 R2 will be released six months after Windows 8, according to Bharathy, which would mark it for release in late April 2013, as Windows 8 is scheduled for release on October 26. Microsoft had originally planned on releasing the CTP in July, followed by a beta release in October, per Bharathy's presentation. However, that schedule seems to have slipped by a month.

Bharathy added that Microsoft is committed to releasing BizTalk Server for "years to come" and that Microsoft is enabling new Azure-based BizTalk scenarios for enterprise application integration (EAI) and electronic data interchange (EDI).

BizTalk also will be supported by Microsoft both on premises and in Azure, Bharathy promised. Customers told Microsoft that business-to-business operations are "more amenable to the cloud" while line-of-business assets "will always be on premises." Microsoft's conclusions from that feedback are that one approach doesn't suit all organizations, so it plans to support hosted, on premises and hybrid architectures for BizTalk Server.

Currently, there are about 12,000 BizTalk 2010 customers. Microsoft is committed to releasing a new BizTalk Server product every two to three years, Bharathy said.

Microsoft's announcement today indicated that the CTP supports some of Microsoft's next wave of emerging products, as well as Windows Azure Active Directory Access Control authentication. The CTP works with Windows Server 2012 release candidate and Windows Server 2008 R2. It also supports SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2008 R2. Office 2010 is supported, but no information was supplied about future support for Office 2013, which is currently available as a customer preview release.

The CTP also adds support for the "latest" line-of-business versions, according to the announcement. It supports SAP 7.2, as well as Oracle DB 11.2 and EBS 12.1.

Microsoft also promised in its announcement that the CTP is facilitating integration with services that use REST protocols, such as Salesforce.com. The blog claims that Microsoft's integration goes beyond just consuming REST services. The CTP now supports exposing REST services from BizTalk Server, too.

Microsoft plans to ship the ESB Toolkit as part of the core product, when released, according to Bharathy. Microsoft is also saying that Visual Studio 2012 release candidate supports BizTalk Server 2010 R2.

Microsoft describes BizTalk Server as an "integration and connectivity server." It can be used to tie together business processes that depend on disparate software solutions. It's middleware that acts like an enterprise service bus in service-oriented architecture scenarios.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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