Microsoft Wednesday said the interim release of BizTalk Server, which will usher in support for RFID, would ship in September and feature a new edition of the software.
The company also announced pricing for BizTalk Server R2, Microsoft's business process and application integration platform. The R2 server includes new business process management (BPM) and service-oriented architecture (SOA) capabilities and a branch office edition.
In addition, Microsoft has added support for vertical industry supply chain standards RosettaNet, SWIFT and HL7. Previously, users had to purchase those separately.
Microsoft also listed per processor pricing for all the BizTalk Server R2 editions with Enterprise at US$35,000; Standard at US$8,500; Branch at US$1,800; and Developer at US$500.
Microsoft's goal with BizTalk Server 2006 R2 is to drive the integration of RFID data, back-end systems and line-of-business applications using BizTalk as a hub.
The hope is to integrate real-world data at the edge of the network, such as the number of cases of a product sitting on a loading dock, with business process workflow and line-of-business applications like SAP to aid in decision making.
The Branch edition enables different corporate organizations and departments to share data and business process. The server, however, will not support adapters and accelerators and requires user to connect the Branch edition to an Enterprise edition acting as an inbound or outbound spoke. Uses will only be able to run one BizTalk application on top of the Branch server.
"We think Branch edition is a great opportunity to link together parts of the extended enterprise," says Burley Kawasaki, a director in the connected systems division at Microsoft.
The Service Oriented Architecture & Business Process Pack bundles BizTalk Server 2006 R2, Office SharePoint Server 2007, Visual Studio Team System, SQL Server 2005 and the .NET Framework to create an SOA-BPM infrastructure bundle.
Microsoft also added integration with Vista and Office 2007, including adapters for Windows Communication Foundation and Workflow Foundation in Vista, and for Office SharePoint Server.
BizTalk Server 2006 R2 also includes native support for electronic data interchange and Applicability Statement 2 as well as RFID.
Microsoft released the first public beta of the server in May.
Among the RFID-specific features is plug-and-play services for RFID devices that Microsoft hopes will make it easier for companies to roll out the technology and simpler for vendors to build products on top of it.
Microsoft is starting at the hardware level by supporting integration of RFID devices using the plug-and-play model that makes attaching an RFID device to BizTalk as easy as adding a new mouse to a PC.
The plug-in-play is supported by a service provider interface that is much like an SDK that lets device manufacturers create drivers for their products. Microsoft also will support some RFID standards out of the box, including the Low-Level Reader Protocol.
BizTalk Server 2006 R2 also includes event processing services that filter, aggregate and transform the data collected from RFID devices into business events that make sense of the incoming data stream.
Microsoft is working with 100 partners, including Intel and HP, and has 30 early adopters including two running BizTalk Server 2006 R2 in production.