London launch for BizTalk Server 2006

No more appropriate place for launch, says the man in charge of the application that Microsoft hopes will help it conquer the business market

Microsoft officially launched BizTalk Server 2006, choosing the London Stock Exchange as the "most appropriate" venue for the worldwide launch of the latest version of the office networking tool.

As part of the launch, Microsoft has "greatly simplified the licensing" of BizTalk and reduced the costs. A major criticism of BizTalk in the past had been the sheer complexity of trying to establish the costs of an application that can be spread across many different systems and software platforms.

At the launch, Microsoft also outlined tighter integration for BizTalk and CRM 3.0 — the latest version of Microsoft's CRM software, which was launched last year.

"It is most appropriate that we make this announcement here in London," said Steve Martin, Microsoft's director of business process management, "because when we launched BizTalk our first major customer was [UK retailer] Marks and Spencer ".

Lots of things had changed, said Martin, not least the price. "An enterprise product could cost £150,000 then with everything."

Now Microsoft is selling BizTalk server for $29,999 (£17,200) for an enterprise licence, $8,499 for a standard licence and $499 for a developer's licence.

David Gale, a launch customer with Derby City Council, claimed that since using BizTalk 2006 with Microsoft CRM 3.0 his organisation had been able to make some real cost savings.

Derby is part of a unitary authority so that all the services offered by the various branches of government and input from the private sector (Rolls Royce, Egg and Toyota are all large employers locally) are brought under one roof through the Derby City Partnership. According to Gale, the various elements can plug in to the system as they are required, using Microsoft CRM and BizTalk.

"As we get a new requirement, we can roll out a new BizTalk service with CRM 3.0, at around £2,000 to £3,000 a pop," said Gale. "That's a completely new service from scratch — a small part of what you would expect it to cost."

Microsoft also announced that it was extending the software application plug-ins that would now come as part of BizTalk, including support for all of Oracle's family of applications — Oracle, PeopleSoft, Siebel and JD Edwards — according to Martin. But he did not include some other notables, including SAP and