Microsoft has integrated radio frequency identification functionality into the latest version of its business process management server, BizTalk.
BizTalk Server 2006 R2, which was made generally available on Monday, is the fifth iteration of Microsoft's service-oriented architecture (SOA) platform. Alongside its new RFID functionality, it also supports the electronic data interchange (EDI) set of standards.
According to Microsoft, the addition of RFID and EDI functionality to BizTalk makes it possible to extend business processes out to the "edge" of the enterprise — business partners and branch locations being two examples. A branch edition of BizTalk is also available for intra-organisational purposes.
"For customers to successfully extend their core business processes to reach across applications, partners and platforms, they need a way to connect their existing systems regardless of vendor, platform, protocol and geography," said Steven Martin, director of connected systems product management at Microsoft, on Monday. "With BizTalk Server 2006 R2, customers choose how they want to connect applications, platforms and people — we provide them with the tools to do it."
Microsoft was recently criticised by IBM for its approach to SOA. IBM claimed that Microsoft was offering little more than a "lightweight messaging infrastructure". In August, Steven Mills, an IBM executive, told ZDNet.co.uk that Microsoft was only "trying to provide connectivity capabilities for those that are running on Windows platforms", rather than covering all platforms and applications.