I have two things to be excited about today. First, we’ve finally had some sunny spring days in Seattle (which means I had plenty of dry time outside this week).  Second, there’s more great news about our B2B technology.   Today, we’re announcing another important update for our customers—we’ve come to an agreement with our partner Covast to acquire advanced B2B capabilities.  This will be availableas part of the Software Assurance benefits.  Timing has not yet been finalized, but customers who purchase BizTalk Server 2006 R3 with SA will have access to this new B2B capability  (for context on BizTalk Server 2006 R3, see my previous post).

 

 Why is this important? It builds on the most recent B2B improvements in BizTalk Server.  Some highlights include:

·         New standards for specific retail segments such as warehousing, grocery, energy, automotive and air freight

·         B2B metadata management for EDI ‘super’ interchanges, deeper integration with SQL Server repository/Visual Studio (EDI Explorer) and new reporting capabilities

·         Advanced B2B transports include new file adapters and transports and VAN connectivity

·         B2B operations monitor that enables role-based viewing, end-to-end tracking/tracing and automatic archiving

 

For our ISV partners, this increases the breath of B2B solutions that partners can build on top of BizTalk Server.  They can now take advantage of both industry-specific protocols in their own vertical solutions as well as advanced B2B scenarios for their customers.  Over the past year, this has been a specific customer request and adds the growing set of capabilities BizTalk Server brings to businesses.  This will make it easier to address the individual needs of a broad set of customers.  As an example, auto component makers need info about parts, sales, customers, employees and branch offices to store, track and use to execute transactions.   Meanwhile the grocery store down the street needs unique templates, workflows, rules, etc that save development time and work automatically.   These new capabilities will help both of them.

 

We have had a lot of great news about the BizTalk family recently (BizTalk RFID Mobile, BizTalk Server 2006 R3, etc.).  I can’t promise that we will have big updates like this on a weekly basis but it gives you a sense for the investments we are making to continue to improve technologies on which customers heavily rely.