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BizTalk Server 2006 R2 details announced

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We have been waiting anxiously for R2 to come out. There are some great features included; features that we could use today on several projects. Most clients are reluctant to start development on the beta, even if the go-live date of the project is after the expected GA date of R2.

We have been waiting to find out some final details on those features, as well as a release date, pricing, and edition information.

At the Worldwide Partner Conference 2007, MS announced these details to the public, but I haven't seen them discussed anywhere. I checked with the product group, and they said it would be ok for me to write about what was announced.

We, and other people, are looking for this information so they can plan for and manage their projects and environments for how R2 might impact them.

First, the features:

    1. Whole new, revamped EDI stack with AS2 in the box
    2. RFID platform
    3. BizTalk Adapter Framework 2
    4. Platform alignment (WCF adapters, etc.)

This is great news. I have been waiting for WCF support for a while now. It will really drive some of the ESB scenarios we are starting to engage with.

The 'edition' story gets a little more complex (although not as robust as the Vista edition schedule.)

  1. Developer - $500 - for development only. This hasn't changed. It is really just a re-branded Enterprise Edition, like most MSDN versions.
  2. Branch Edition - $1,800 / proc - This edition is new. This is for remote BizTalk servers that need to run across your enterprise. They are only allowed to talk to the centrally located, Enterprise Edition they are tied to. It isn't clear if this is a legal/license limitation, or if there is some technical bonding/pairing going on under the covers. This will most likely be used in Supply Chain Management scenarios in distribution centers for working with the RFID stack. This edition is limited to one BTS application, and can have up to two physical procs. The accelerators (read below) are not included with this license.
  3. Standard Edition - $8,500 / proc - This is very similar to the BTS 2006 R1 Standard Edition. It is still limited to 5 BTS applications, and two procs. You are still not able to join a group. This edition is aimed at departmental or low end scenarios. This edition does include the new EDI, RFID, and accelerator packs.
  4. Enterprise Edition - $35,000 / proc - This is also very similar to the existing EE version. The new EDI / RFID / Adapters / Accelerators are included. There aren't any limits on number of procs, and the server can join a BTS group. This is for serious SOA/ESB/Integration scenarios that have significant performance requirements. Even at this price it is a steal versus competing products (including custom code). There is an interesting footnote on this edition that it includes 'unlimited virtual procs.' I don't know what the means. I do know that under R1, you had to license the procs that a virtual server thinks it has as physical procs. Maybe this is a change. If so, it makes running a virtualized environment even more sensible (although I have yet to see a virtualized BTS environment that has any real performance).

Of Mice and Accelerators:

Up until now, MS has made accelerators available as an extra purchase. These have never been cheap, but usually a cost effective option. For example, the HIPAA accelerator provides all of the schemas and the processing engine you need. Making these by hand would be not only time consuming, but difficult to test. All of the current accelerators are now going to be included in the box. This is great news. I can now see a lot of my clients that have BTS for other reasons, adopt it for these other uses and be able to leverage their investment. In the past if they were to have to drop an extra $50k, they would be forced to go through a market evaluation. So this is great news.

Adapters:

I have heard some rumors about the new adapters, but I don't know what is official. So I will wait until there is a public announcement.

 Pricing:

Above, where I quoted pricing, you will see that there is a small  increase in the licensing costs. Before I go further, I need to include the 'IANALE' clause:

I AM NOT A LICENSING EXPERT!

With that out of the way.....

While a formal GA date hasn't been announced, they have been consistent in saying September, 2007. The pricing changes you can see above won't go into effect until January 1st, 2008. That means that you have between the release data and the new year to buy R2 at the current prices. That's a real nice move by MS.

Also, this is a newly licensed product. That means if you have R1, but do NOT have Software Assurance, you will have to buy new licenses for the new version. If you did buy SA, then you will get SA for free.

I always recommend to my clients to buy SA on any enterprise critical software. Mostly so they get great support and the free upgrades. The BizTalk product has a track record of new releases about every two years, so it works out well.

SOA and Business Process Pack

There is another package you can buy, called the SOA and Business Process pack. When most customers buy BizTalk, they usually have to buy other products as well (SQL Server for example). Microsoft has created a bundle that has all of these products grouped together: BizTalk Server 2006 R2, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Visual Studio Team Systems, and Microsoft SQL Server 2005. If you buy them in this bundle, you will get an additional 10% of the regular pricing. I think this is a great bundle. I know a lot of my customers tend to buy all of these products as a result of deploying BTS, so it will save them some money.

This special offer is only valid for six months after R2 is released though. They haven't mentioned which edition of BTS this might be limited to (does it include standard, or just Enterprise?). Also, it doesn't mention a minimum number of CALs or procs to qualify. Maybe there isn't a minimum. I am not sure.

 

Anyway, this is great news to finally know when R2 will come out, what the pricing is, and some of the editions and features that will be available. I think the news that the accelerators will be included is the biggest news, as these were very expensive to purchase.

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