Microsoft BizTalk Server Interconnects Different Software Applications

Interconnecting different IT systems has become the norm whether we like it or not. Connecting various software applications together is much bigger than simply exchanging bytes of information.

But as we increasingly move toward a service-oriented economy, uniting separate systems to create seamless business processes becomes ever more necessary to remain competitive. Microsoft’s BizTalk server helps turn this goal into a reality.

BizTalk allows for the interconnection of diverse software applications, which helps streamline business processes. In addition to this interconnection, BizTalk server enables IT staff to closely monitor running business processes, interact with trading partners and perform other business related tasks.

BizTalk consultants can interconnect applications within a single organization, known as enterprise application integration (EAI), or interconnect applications between two or more organizations, or what is known as business-to-business (B2B) integration.

What does the BizTalk server include?

It’s no doubt a challenge to combine different systems developed at different times using different technologies and platforms.

Microsoft’s BizTalk server has two main parts that makes this possible – one, a messaging component that furnishes the capability to communicate with a wide-range of different software applications. Adapters, specifically designed by BizTalk consultants, allow the messaging component of the BizTalk server to interact with a variety of protocols and data formats.

The other major component of the BizTalk server is the support for creating and running orchestrations, or graphically defined business processes. Orchestrations implement the instructions they receive from incoming messages and once completed, transmit the final product to an outgoing adapter that leads to the other application.

But these aren’t the only components of a BizTalk server engine. A Business Rule Engine evaluates complex sets of rules and a Group Hub allows BizTalk consultants to manage the engine and the orchestrations it runs. An Enterprise Single Sign-On (SSO) utility provides BizTalk consultants the ability to map authentication information between Windows and non-Windows systems.

To complement BizTalk’s foundation, the server includes a Business Activity Monitoring utility which IT professionals use to monitor a business process while it is running. Information from the tool is displayed in a business format rather than a technical one, allowing business users to easily understand what is going on.

What are some real world examples of a BizTalk server in action?

So how does all this techno jargon translate into real world events?

Let’s say you’re a medium sized retailer who sells outdoor equipment. Your stores specialize in all things outdoors – camping, hiking, fishing, hunting and more.

Your inventory application notices that the stock of a popular hiking boot is running low – you need to order more so you have some on the shelves for demanding customers.

The first thing that happens is the inventory application – running on an IBM mainframe – issues a request for more boots by sending a message to a BizTalk server orchestration. In this orchestration, a purchase order is requested from your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application, which may have been developed under a UNIX type framework.

If approved, the ERP application returns a purchase order to the BizTalk server orchestration, which then creates the order and sends it to a fulfillment application for processing. This application may have been developed under a Windows framework for example.

Here’s an illustration below – notice how none of the separate applications are aware of the entire process.

This is a basic outline of how the BizTalk server works to streamline business processes. Without a tedious process of visually checking inventory, your system(s) can be setup to automatically order things you need for your shop.

Adopting the BizTalk server in your organization can go a long way toward ensuring your success. Bookmark us and check back often and if you have any questions, contact BizTalk consultants at Innovative Architects today!