BizTalk Server is the New Center of Transactions
In completely changing the approach for handling transactions in Site Server, Microsoft decided to move away from the pipeline concept and use BizTalk Server as more of the center or hub of transactions in its approach to completing online sales. Although BizTalk Server has a reputation as a mid-market server that is not used much in the Global 2,500, Microsoft contends that many of the world's largest and most recognized companies are using BizTalk Server. Its role, however, needs to be proven in a global context before anyone with an e-commerce sales effort, whether B2B or B2C, puts BizTalk in the main processing role.
BizTalk Server is the EAI component that brings EDI to XML integration into the Commerce Server 2000 product family as well. Just how well does BizTalk handle EDI to XML? It is unproven at this point, yet in 2002 there will be so much spoken of, written about, and defined by Microsoft in the EDI-to-XML area that BizTalk will start to be compared to EDI products if the company is successful with their efforts. EDI is batch-oriented and well-entrenched in many companies, whereas XML is just starting to be adopted. It's Microsoft's plan to use a solutions strategy to sell all the server components that a given company needs, and to use the EDI-to-XML integration aspects of BizTalk as its version of what a WebMethods would do, for example.
Will Microsoft be successful in its quest to get EDI-based customers to move into the world of XML using BizTalk Server? The competitive landscape is already so crowded and new technologies from companies like InterWorld show so much promise that if anything, Microsoft will be able to declare victory in the captive revenue world of its customer base. As far as capturing new market share with BizTalk Server based only on its EDI to XML role, the chances look 50/50. BizTalk Server will go the way of many integration products that other vendors have tried to gain new sales on. It will capture sales in the customer base first, and take a few product generations to hone its competitiveness relative to others in this crowded EAI marketplace.