Microsoft Lays Out BizTalk Server Road Map

Microsoft Corp.'s long-awaited BizTalk Server will feature a heavy-duty enterprise edition and a more economically priced standard version when it ships early next year, a company official disclosed last week at Comdex/Fall 2000.

BizTalk Server is Microsoft's XML-enabled application integration software to help companies do business-to-business transactions. It handles the critical document routing, data transformation and tracking of messages that companies need to participate in business-to-business marketplaces.

Two Editions

To date, Microsoft has been sparse with pricing details. But Microsoft technology specialist Duane Pressley told a gathering of Comdex attendees that the standard edition, which runs on a single CPU, will sell for roughly US$5,000. The enterprise edition, for up to eight CPUs, will be priced at approximately US$25,000 per CPU, he said.

Pressley said he expects that large hub marketplaces will require the enterprise edition, but most companies starting out will be able to use the standard edition. The beta version of BizTalk Server was the enterprise version, he said.

Microsoft expects to start pressing BizTalk Server CDs later this month, according to Pressley. He said the product will likely be generally available in January or February.

First announced in March 1999, BizTalk Server had been slated to ship by the end of that year, but target dates slipped as Microsoft worked to add workflow capability to the product.

The code generally has been "very stable," said one early adopter, Lisa Miller, director of information technology at Washington Publishing Co. in Rockville, Md. Her company publishes information about how to implement transaction standards for various industries, including health care and petroleum.

Miller said her company encountered a few "glitches" last week with the parsing of electronic data interchange documents but that Microsoft is working to fix the matter.

James Kobielus, an analyst at The Burton Group in Midvale, Utah, said he thinks it more likely that the product will go to manufacturing in the first quarter.

"I think the three-month beta would be a little bit too aggressive, considering the stakes involved and the complexity of the product," Kobielus said.

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