Microsoft Debuts BizTalk Partner Edition

Microsoft will deliver on its promise to offer a trimmed-down version of BizTalk 2004 free to Windows Small Business Server 2003 Premium users, but channel partners are not optimistic that

April 2, 2004

2 Min Read
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Microsoft will deliver on its promise to offer a trimmed-down version of BizTalk 2004 free to Windows Small Business Server 2003 Premium users, but channel partners are not optimistic that the offer will be a big hit in the SMB world.

The BizTalk 2004 Partner Edition, which will be launched in April as one of four editions of BizTalk 2004, will enable SMBs to have trading relationships with up to three trading partners. The Partner Edition is limited to a single CPU and supports up to three applications.

The stand-alone software is priced at $999 per CPU except for customers of SBS 2003 Premium, who can access the software at no charge. Both SBS 2003 editions shipped last fall.

Several solution providers said the new collaboration and Web features of SBS 2003 are useful, but it may be too early for the SMB market to embrace an e-business integration platform.

"Microsoft is wise to offer BizTalk to this market segment as a way to dip their toe in the SMB water, but I feel BizTalk is still off on the horizon of their use," said Arnie Bellini, owner of ConnectWise, a solution provider in Tampa, Fla. "Simply put, the SMB market is still busy getting the more basic parts of their IT infrastructure in place, like e-mail and collaboration. The real gem in the new SBS 2003 offer is SharePoint and the improved Shared Fax Services."ConnectWise and other Microsoft solution providers have reported brisk sales of SBS 2003 Standard Edition, which launched in October at a significant price break at $599. Microsoft claims to have enjoyed a 170 percent increase in overall sales of SBS 2003 during the product's first six months on the market compared to the six months following the release of SBS 2000.

Still, partners say they are seeing fewer deals on the Premium Edition, which shipped shortly after the Standard Edition and had a price tag of $1,499. It includes SQL Server 2000 and ISA 2000 as well as Windows 2003, SharePoint Services and Exchange 2003. Premium buyers are eligible for the free BizTalk 2004 Partner Edition.

Some consultants see a potential services opportunity for sophisticated small businesses that need EDI capabilities, while other solution providers say the need for BizTalk in the SMB space has not yet arrived.

"I haven't seen the need for BizTalk Partner edition from the very beginning," said Michael Cocanower, president of ITSynergy, Phoenix. "You might have a small business working with a Fortune 500 and that Fortune 500 company has an extensive BizTalk implementation and they want the small biz to integrate. The Partner Edition enables the small business to do that financially, where they couldn't before. It sounds good to me, but I just haven't run into that scenario in the real world yet."

This story appears courtesy of CRN.0

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