Microsoft Canada launches BizTalk 2004

Regional partners are key in understanding and meeting the needs of customers, said a Microsoft Corp. product manager, who was in Toronto earlier this month for Microsoft Canada’s five-city tour to launch BizTalk Server 2004.

Microsoft and its partners, including Sunaptic Solutions Inc., 5by5

Software Ventures Ltd., Cactus Commerce Inc., iWay Software and Avanade Canada Inc., made presentations on their applications based on BizTalk.

“”5by5, for example, which is based in Calgary, sells to primarily oil and gas companies and can build industry-relevant applications and go to market leveraging its regional expertise,”” said Eron Kelly, lead product manager of e-business servers group for Microsoft Corp.

Kelly gave a brief presentation on BizTalk, which enables businesses to integrate systems, employees and trading partners through manageable business processes.

Starting April 1, BizTalk, which ships with a Visual Studio.NET 2003 license, will be available through Microsoft programs including its Licensing Program and Open Program. Select Enterprise Agreement Program members will get the BizTalk CD in the mail next month, said Kelly. BizTalk, originally launched in 2000, is 96 per cent sold through the channel in Canada, according to Microsoft.

“”From a timing perspective, integration is one of the top issues on our customers’ minds,”” said Jordan Chrysafidis, business group lead for Windows Server System at Microsoft Canada, who welcomed the presenters.

“”There’s a strike when the iron’s hot phenomenon happening in the market today. The introduction of (BizTalk) is hopefully capturing that in providing a great reason for partners to give these customers a call and say, ‘we’re ready and able to start that integration project for you.'””

In terms of market perception, Chrysafidis said: “”I’ve never seen so many customers as part of the early adoption program that are coming back and saying, ‘we used this product before the code went gold and before it was publically released.'””

New features include Business Activity Management (BAM) tools that allow information workers to monitor transactions and processes in real time and data transformation services that enable data to be transferred between different formats including XML, EDI and RosettaNet.

“”Users can find out the total value of finished goods inventory in real time,”” said Kelly, giving a practical example.

Another feature, Comprehensive Rules Engine, defines, manages and deploys complex business rules used for one or many business processes across the organization. Kelly said, for example, airlines could use this function to increase or decrease the number of frequent flyer miles that a passenger needs to get from point a to point b.

Microsoft has several different types of BizTalk partners including vertical solutions (Cactus), application adapters, complimentary applications (5by5), system integrators (Avanade) and third-party certification programs.

5by5 announced the launch of its flagship product based on Microsoft technology and BizTalk called Bridgewerx. Working as a configuration wizard, the product turns custom integration work into a turn-key solution, making integration between applications, business processes and data exchanges easier and faster, according to the Calgary-based software company.

Neil Kenyon, vice-president of sales and marketing for 5by5, said the company is looking to get some “”channel play”” with this release, which is currently available on the company’s Web site (

Kenyon said 5by5 is looking to use independent software vendors (ISVs) as an interface for Bridgewerx.

“”It adds a lot more value to the business owner,”” added Kenyon.

Avanade Canada Inc., a joint venture formed by Accenture and Microsoft announced how its customers are using BizTalk for Web services-enabled collaboration. In 2002, Microsoft cut back its ownership of Avanade to 19 per cent from 49 per cent in 2000.

“”Partners complained about the competitive aspect,”” said Sylvain Duford, Avanade’s enterprise integration practice lead, on the ownership structure change.

In an e-mail response, Microsoft Corp. stated Avanade competes for customers in the marketplace like every other Microsoft partner.

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