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Microsoft Updates BizTalk Server Roadmap

With three versions of BizTalk Server out the door, Microsoft recently began discussing versions four and five of the business integration server software.

In a document for customers called "Microsoft BizTalk Server Roadmap," Microsoft committed to delivering at least two more versions of BizTalk Server. One, Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006 formerly went by the code-name "Pathfinder." The follow-on version is not identified by a code-name in the document.

BizTalk Server originally came out in 2000, and the latest release, BizTalk Server 2004, became available in March. The product is broadly designed to support enterprise and trading partner integration and business process management. BizTalk Server is also among Microsoft's highest profile implementations of .NET technology.

While the functionality of BizTalk Server has not been in doubt, its existence as a discrete product was during the brief life of Microsoft's "Jupiter" project, which would have combined BizTalk Server with Commerce Server and Content Management Server. In the end, Microsoft scuttled Jupiter, citing a lack of customer demand for the integration. BizTalk Server 2004 had been billed as phase one of Jupiter.

According to Microsoft's roadmap, BizTalk Server 2006 looks to be a set of refinements rather than a new direction for the server. Microsoft will focus on improving management, operations and the business user experience. The 2006 version will also introduce support for Virtual Server 2005 and three products expected to ship this year -- Windows Server 2003 x64 editions, SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005.

The version of BizTalk to follow the 2006 edition will dovetail with the functionality in Windows "Longhorn" Server. That server operating system overhaul is slated for 2007. The main boost for the post-2006 BizTalk in the Longhorn wave is the "Indigo" infrastructure for building secure, reliable and transacted services, according to the document. Microsoft's BizTalk team is also eager to leverage further development enhancements in the version of Visual Studio that parallels Longhorn.

Meanwhile, a BizTalk Server product manager included a post in his blog that Service Pack 1 for BizTalk Server 2004 could come as soon as the last week in January. According to the blog post, SP1's dependencies on the Windows 2000 Rollup Package and the MSI 3.0 installer could hold up delivery.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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