Microsoft has updated its BizTalk Server integration software, making it easier to connect to trading partners and integrate applications.
BizTalk Server 2002 will dramatically improve users' ability to integrate with partners which will lower the cost of such integration, claimed Kevin McCall, product manager at Microsoft.
"It provides a cost effective method of integrating applications within and between organisations," he said.
With BizTalk 2002, Microsoft is going up against the likes of Oracle, IBM, WebMethods and SeeBeyond in the burgeoning integration software market.
Integrating disparate systems is becoming increasingly vital to firms as they look to squeeze value from legacy investments, explained David Kiker, Microsoft's general manager of ebusiness.
"BizTalk 2002 will allow firms to easily integrate systems that were never designed to talk to each other, such as financial, supply chain and human resources systems," he said.
Application integration would be the "most important" issue in IT for the next five years, according to Gartner analyst Jess Thompson.
To create an enterprise-wide system where all parts could communicate, companies should be looking at "managing business-to-business and application-to-application integration together", he said.
Microsoft has bundled additional products into BizTalk 2002, including BizTalk Application Centre, which improves support for application deployment, and Operation Manager, which allows users to monitor and manage the performance of BizTalk 2002.
The software giant will be hoping that its competitive pricing will tempt users. The enterprise edition will retail at $25,000 per central processing unit.
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