Microsoft has reversed course on the fate of BizTalk Server, re-naming the next version and setting a roadmap that calls for a major releases of the middleware every two years.
The decision to continue developing the middleware came as a surprise to some, as BizTalk was to be a launching pad for Microsoft's forthcoming "Oslo" technologies that include messaging (Windows Communications Foundation), workflow (Windows Workflow Foundation) and modeling tools.
Rob Helm, an analyst with independent analyst firm Directions on Microsoft, says: "It is pretty surprising and I have not seen this big a reversal from Microsoft in a while.
"They might be reluctant to yank what is now a fairly successful product for an unproven technology platform."
Microsoft says what was supposed to be BizTalk Server 2006 R3 will now be called BizTalk Server 2009. The full release is slated to ship in the first half of next year. In addition, the company says it will provide details on another new version, code-named BizTalk 7, in the early part of next year.
"We will continue to enhance and extend enterprise activity scenarios" in BizTalk, says Burley Kawasaki, director of product management in the connected systems division at Microsoft. "We will make it simpler, add new capabilities around [business-to-business], build in our new RFID work and expand it to more general purpose asset-tracking, like tracking laptops or servers in your company, and provide a complete end-to-end asset management view. There will also be enhancements around [business intelligence] and business activity monitoring."
Company officials say Oslo will be discussed further during Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in October. "We will talk about linking composite applications you build with Oslo to the existing services you may have already built using BizTalk," Kawasaki says.
In essence, Microsoft plans for now not to isolate current BizTalk users, which would have been the case with a wholesale move to Oslo.
"Our commitment is you can use BizTalk today with R2 and 2009 with our Oslo modeling technology without needs to upgrade," Kawasaki says.
BizTalk 2009 will deliver support for platform technologies including Windows Server 2008, Hyper-V, Visual Studio 2008 SP1, SQL Server 2008 and the .Net Framework 3.5 SP1. Microsoft also has improved failover clustering so BizTalk can be deployed in multi-site clusters that eliminate the need for virtual LANs.