The Buzz on BizTalk

A few weeks ago, Microsoft released the beta version of its BizTalk Server (BTS) 2000. Last week, SearchWin2000 users had an opportunity to question lead BizTalk product manager Kevin McCall about what BizTalk is and what it could mean for companies implementing an e-commerce solution. Here's a sampling of the repartee.

Question: What are some specific scenarios that I might use BizTalk?

Kevin McCall: Really any scenario where you need to integrate applications into seamless business processes that are either run within or between orgs. So our customers are using this in many different ways today. Many are doing supply chain integration projects, some are using BTS on eProcurements projects, some are using it for bridging their XML-enabled systems (of which very few are in production today) with their EDI systems. Many companies have gotten a lot of value from EDI systems, but it wasn't really effective for integrating with small and medium sized orgs, so they are using BizTalk to integrate with those orgs that they couldn't "get to" with their EDI systems. Since BTS can leverage existing EDI systems in place, BTS can be used to reach those trading partners, but still cooperate with those EDI systems.

Question: Could you explain the scalability of BizTalk Server?

Kevin McCall: Not quickly. :) It has been architected to scale in a server farm up to dozens of servers.

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You can have 1, 5, 10, or more all access a shared queue of docs to process, and that shared queue can sit on one or more boxes. So handling for example maybe 500 or 1000 docs per second won't be a big deal. Handling the huge loads you would find in financial environments (or at the highest end, Sabre or something), would require many servers. It really depends upon the type of doc, the size, how much transformation is required, if there are attachments, what encryption and digital signatures are required, etc. But it has been architected to scale out based on large server farms.

Question: How will BizTalk allow me to model my business processes?

Kevin McCall: Within the BizTalk orchestration environment (built on top of the Visio design surface), you can define the distributed processes that you want to run, and then within the same tool, you can "bind" each step in that process with the implementation for that activity. Through bindings, you can use many different technologies and protocols to connect to systems and, using the tools and services provided, you can transform, encrypt, sign etc. data so that it is sent back and forth between the various steps/apps in the process in the right format.

Clich here to read the entire transcript of the Q&A.


This was first published in September 2000

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