Today we are releasing a Community Technology Preview (CTP) of Microsoft BizTalk Server 2010 R2 to a limited number of our Technology Adoption Program (TAP) customers. We are also making the CTP available for preview to all customers as a predefined image in a Windows Azure Virtual Machine. BizTalk Server is Microsoft’s premier Integration and B2B communications server that enables organizations to connect disparate systems and business processes together.

In this CTP release, we provide a preview of brand new capabilities that bring together BizTalk on-premises and in the cloud via Windows Azure Virtual Machines to simplify building hybrid applications, drive increased productivity using the latest Microsoft platform (be it Windows Server, SQL Server, Visual Studio, etc.), better collaborate with their business partners using the improved B2B capabilities, and reduce operations cost with better manageability.

Here are the details:

Improved productivity with new Microsoft Platform support

Customers can now leverage the latest platforms and tools from Microsoft, such as Windows Server 2012 RC, SQL Server 2012, Visual Studio 2012 RC. All new BizTalk projects will target .Net Framework 4.5 RC by default. The CTP also provides support for the latest LOB versions enabling customers to use BizTalk for integrating their applications with the latest versions of SAP, Oracle and SQL Server.

The new adapters provide a seamless experience to enable hybrid connectivity, all done via configuration. The CTP provides native support for Windows Azure Active Directory Access Control (ACS) authentication and is extensible for other authentication mechanisms.

  • Platform support
    • Windows Server 2012 RC, Windows Server 2008 R2
    • SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2008 R2
    • Visual Studio 2012 RC
    • Office 2010
    • Support for latest LOB versions
    • Support for SQL Server 2012
    • Support for SAP 7.2
    • Support for Oracle DB 11.2
    • Support for Oracle EBS 12.1 …
  • Adapters
    • WCF-WebHttp adapter, to consume REST service or expose REST service
    • SB-Messaging, for sending/pulling data from Service Bus Queues/Topics
    • WCF-NetTCPRelay, for hosting relays or sending data to NetTCPRelay end points
    • WCF-BasicHttpRelay, for hosting relays or sending data to BasicHttpRelay end points

Better B2B with schema updates

EDI standards evolve and one of the key investments made in this new BizTalk CTP is to ensure that we support the latest B2B standards natively. This enables you to transact messages based on the latest versions of EDI protocol.

  • B2B enhancements to support latest standards natively
    • Support for X12 5040, 5050, 6020, 6030
    • Support for EDIFACT D06A, D06B, D07A, D07B, D08A, D08B, D09A, D09B, D10A, D10B
    • HL7 2.5.1

We are working on further schema updates such as HL7 2.6, these will be enabled in the BizTalk 2010 R2 Beta.

Improved Performance

The CTP provides performance improvement for certain key scenarios. In case of two way MLLP adapter scenarios where ordered delivery is set, the tests have revealed up-to 5X performance improvement so far in our environments. We have also made enhancements in our engine to improve the performance in ordered send port scenarios.

Building hybrid applications

Today, there is an increase in the adoption of hybrid application scenarios where some components of an application run in the cloud while other components/LOB applications remain on-premises. The ability to integrate these components and leverage the richness of both worlds is growing in importance.

In this CTP release, we enable hybrid connectivity by providing first class support for integrating with Windows Azure Service Bus Queues/Topics/Relays. We are introducing the following adapters

  • SB-Messaging, for sending/pulling data from Service Bus Queues/Topics
  • WCF-NetTCPRelay, for hosting relays or sending data to NetTCPRelay end points
  • WCF-BasicHttpRelay, for hosting relays or sending data to BasicHttpRelay end points

Integrating with Windows Azure Service Bus entities is now just a few configurations away!

Integration with RESTful services

One of the other prevalent trends in the market today is the proliferation of RESTful services. Almost all new services, as well a lot of existing services, have a REST interface exposed. For example, all services in Windows Azure (e.g. Windows Azure Marketplace), Salesforce, etc. have support for REST services. With this CTP release, we are making it really easy for you to integrate RESTful services with BizTalk Server using the new WCF-WebHttp adapter. All the HTTP operations like GET, PUT, POST and DELETE are now supported natively. It gets better.

We initially planned for this feature to only support consuming REST services from BizTalk, however we received feedback from customers that there should be a way to expose REST services as well from BizTalk. We listened to your feedback and we are excited to announce that you now have an early preview to exposing REST services from BizTalk Server as well in this CTP.

BizTalk Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machines

Setting up a new BizTalk Server environment usually involves a long lead time to procure hardware, get the dependencies in place, set up the server, etc. This means long lead times before you can get started with your new BizTalk Server project. We are now leveraging the power of the cloud and the richness of Windows Azure to provide an experience where you can get up and running with your BizTalk Server environment in matter of minutes and move your existing applications to the cloud without making any changes. Furthermore, the CTP provides improvements to the BizTalk multi-machine configuration and now you can do this using some basic configuration settings with the click of a button in a single machine, without having to go and configure the BizTalk Server Group in each of the individual nodes.

In the coming months, we will broaden availability for interested customers to try the latest release of BizTalk Server prior to GA. For customers outside of the limited TAP program who want to try the CTP today, we have some great news. All the above enhancements are now available for you to preview with BizTalk Server in a Windows Azure Virtual Machine.

Resources to get started

Here are some links to recent sessions at TechEd North America and TechEd Europe Sessions where you can learn more about all the new features and the future of BizTalk Server:

We are excited about this next version of BizTalk, and invite you to test out the CTP release and to give us your feedback on the new features.

The BizTalk Server Team