I had been facinated by BizTalk server ever since I started exploring SOA (Service Oriented Architecture). I had been observing that BizTalk server is the heart of a true SOA implementation with Microsoft Technologies.
I had been trying to experiment with BizTalk server since then. However I could not get into it since last week due to my hectic schedule. I happened to read a few tutorial on BizTalk server last week and found that the business process flow of an application can be well defined and maintained with BizTalk server. The importance of BizTalk server increases if the solution is a collection of different applications interacting with each other.
The best example that came to my mind was a WMS (Warehouse Management System) Project we are working on. It is ideal for an SOA implementation. The application has a main webapplication, an HHD (Hand Held Device) module, a salesrep application which the salesreps in the field are using (which is synchronized with the web application by Web services), integration with MAS (A popular accounting software widely used in the US) and an AR (Account Receivable) Module.
At present the interaction between the different applications is done with DTS (Data Transformation Services), Web Services etc. However, BizTalk server can play an important role in it. I had an installable CD of BizTalk Server 2004 and during installation i found that it works with Visual Studio 2003.
I see that the version of BizTalk server which works with Visual Studio 2005 is BizTalk Server 2006. I had to download an .ISO file from MS Subscriber downloads and extract it to install it. I saw that the installation of BizTalk Server 2006 needed a lot of dependencies. However, the NICE installer had an option, 'install the missing components automatically from internet' which is really cool.
I am a proud user of the new ALL New Biztalk Server 2006. :-)
BizTalk Server is a very important component for any Enterprise Application. It is the Microsoft alternate for ESB (Enterprise Service Bus). If you are working with large business applications, especially SOA applications, Biztalk is a must-use-component. (ofcource you can create an application without BizTalk server. But why do u need to reinvent the wheel?)
I would really suggst you have a look into BizTalk Server if u get a chance. It is a must-to-master tool/application for any developer working with business applications, Especially microsoft technologies. I will post more interesting information about BizTalk server in another blog.