I’m on the road again this week, with a few events to start with including EPC Connection in Chicago and SIBOS in Boston. I enjoyed both of these events as they allowed me to see how BizTalk Server 2006 R2 is enabling new scenarios in different industries. Couple that with the recent world-wide launch of BizTalk Server 2006 R2 in September and the announcement earlier this week on an update to BizTalk Services…and you’ve got a lot of Buzz on BizTalk J
On Tuesday, I accompanied Kevin Turner for his delivery of the keynote speech at EPC Connection 2007, one of the largest Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) events around. Kevin’s roles as COO of Microsoft and formerly as CIO of Wal-Mart Stores have given him a unique perspective on the business impact of RFID and how it can transform organizations. Kevin did a great job of relating his real-world experiences in Supply Chain challenges, with how the technology is evolving for broad scale use and the role Microsoft plays in helping accelerate the market. RFID is at the stage where the hardware prices are coming down into a range where wide scale deployment becomes practical. At the same time, given the fragmented nature of the market there are too many disconnected solutions with proprietary hardware and applications that don’t interoperate well. It’s very analogous to the PC 10 years ago where every printer came with its own driver model and software, and the ability to connect standard applications and standard hardware was tough. Then with Windows 95 and the advent of ‘Plug and Play’ we were able to provide an integration layer in Windows that allowed people to plug in all types of hardware that would work with all types of software. This made it easier for users and accelerated the availability of low cost and broad scale hardware offerings. It also allowed applications to have a reliable way to call on hardware for standard activities like printing or right mouse functions.
RFID is in the same stage today, and with BizTalk R2 we’re providing the server equivalent of ‘Plug and Play’ for RFID. It allows for a standards based way to plug in a variety of tags/readers into a network, and aggregate the data from those readers and make it available to standard applications. This will allow people the benefit of choice on tags/readers and the ability to plug the data into the applications software they are already using and familiar with. I have to say the partner meetings and response at the show for Microsoft’s presence was great. While there are many things left to do and areas for improvement, people were genuinely happy to have a major vendor helping solve some of the hard challenges that slow down the adoption of new technologies. Everyone can see the potential for RFID and through BizTalk R2, we are doing our part to help accelerate this exciting new area. Needless to say, Kevin did a great job on his talk and we have a lot of great partners who are all helping to move this industry forward…the buzz was strong. For some more info check out RFID being used to track everything from pallets to sushi: www.microsoft.com/rfid
Also this week I visited SIBOS which is one of the largest shows in the financial services market. This show is much more around the ongoing transformation of an existing market versus the creation of a new one. In this area, web services along with a strong history of standards have been continuing to drive a measured but steady transformation of traditional capabilities. Again I spent a lot of time with partners learning the great ways in which new functionality in BizTalk, in particular web services and business process support are enabling some new solutions but just as importantly, performance improvements and cost savings for traditional solutions. We had several announcements at the show, with one of the most significant being partnership with one of the world’s largest banks, Groupo Santander, on their use of Microsoft technology as part of their strategic payments infrastructure. The solution will go live next year and will see the consolidation of the Group’s individual banks’ payments systems from multiple mainframes into one homogeneous IT infrastructure. Santander chose BizTalk R2 for their solution after the product team was able to demonstrate in a proof of concept that the system could handle 62 million messages per day, with processing rates of 1,156 messages per second. Overall the integration of core messaging functionality with a variety of adapters for integration to different back-ends, built in EDI support and the inclusion of the SWIFT accelerator drive another aspect of the BizTalk R2 Buzz.
And to check out solutions that were demonstrated in our partner pavilion at the show, visit http://www.rfidjournalevents.com/EPCconnection/pavilion.php
Overall a great few days for me in terms of better understanding the scenarios our customers and partners are thinking of in some very specific areas. Now I’m on the flight to Europe though the next part of the leg is more traditional customer and sub visits. On the rugby side…since I happen to be in Europe, might as well spend the weekend in France and catch the quarter finals….can any rugby player resist? So Saturday in Marseilles and Sunday in Paris, then back to the real world on Monday J