Some very interesting news around BizTalk today. Not only was there the announcement around BizTalk's future on the BizTalk Server Roadmap page, but there was a Q&A session with Oliver Sharp, the General Manager for the Connected Systems Division. Some really cool info is contained in these updates.
The first point of interest is that the announcement and Q&A provide a very clear commitment to BizTalk customers that existing investments in BizTalk will not be lost, that BizTalk will continue to grow as a product, and that upgrades will take previous investments into account. As some customers saw "Oslo" as being a potential replacement for BizTalk Server, this should set their minds at ease. The announcement emphasises this point by indicating that BizTalk will continue to grow as a product and will, over time, be able to interoperate with the modelling initiatives that are the embodiment of "Oslo". So, BizTalk is here to stay!
This announcement and update also provide some more clarity around how the "Oslo" initiative is shaping up. "Oslo" has gone from being a broadly stated idea to becoming a more and more realistic strategy and set of initiatives within Microsoft. As with any large-scale idea, the concepts on which the idea are based go through a number of changes as the idea evolves over time and the concepts slowly formulate into more concrete definitions. This has happened with "Oslo" as well, and this post provides some clarity around how the core of "Oslo" is focused on the concepts of model-driven development and management. Even more interesting announcements relating to other concrete definitions that have come from the original "Oslo" idea are going to be made available at PDC in October ... so make sure you listen out for the news.
Another very interesting point is the change in name for the next release of BizTalk from the previously used name of "BizTalk Server 2006 R3" to the new name of "BizTalk Server 2009". This is a clear indication of the number of changes and additions that have been included in this next release of BizTalk; not only is there a whole new set of platforms being used, but there are also new features being introduced, such as native support for unit testing, TFS, Hyper-V, etc. Some might feel that this is just a marketing ploy, but I believe this change is for the best due to the number of changes that have been incorporated in BizTalk since the original BizTalk Server 2006 release, and because this naming convention is more in line with the naming convention used for products such as SQL Server and Visual Studio. So keep a look out for CTP drops of BizTalk Server 2009 in the coming months.
Lastly, the guys in the Connected Systems Division of Microsoft have committed themselves to making a major release of BizTalk every 2 years, with some tantalising promises of functionality that will come available through the next two releases. The ones that pique my interest the most are the "Low-latency messaging enhancements", the hint at new BizTalk Mapper functionality, and the "Real-time business event visibility".
So, all round ... a lot to look forward to both in the short and medium term. Interesting times lie ahead! 🙂