Microsoft BizTalk – A Layman’s Guide

Jack Prot

Appropriate IT solutions can help businesses grow and remain competitive on the market. If a business can count on an all-in-one solution to take care of its many automation needs, this can result in cost savings and ease of use. Microsoft offers such a solution: BizTalk.

Microsoft BizTalk is an integrated solution that can manage many aspects of a business operations cycle: supply chain management, payments processing, decision making, reporting and interactions with customers and other businesses.

A comprehensive solution like BizTalk is essential for businesses especially when they have the need to make several different systems communicate. Files need to be exchanged between various businesses – they might come from overseas branches or partners or might simply be processed by unlike applications in varied formats.

BizTalk makes sure communication is flawless thanks to a series of adaptor packs and third-party adaptors designed to work with all popular business software packages

BizTalk role in the communication process is simple: it takes files whatever their format and makes sure they arrive at destination in a format that can be recognized by the receiver.

When a file arrives from an application or from another party, BizTalk receives and disassembles it. The file goes through party resolution (where BizTalk looks at the security identifier of the sender (SID) or the sender’s certificate) and is basically unpacked in “messages” — the basic form of information that BizTalk handles.

The messages travel then to the BizTalk message box from where it’s sent to orchestration. This is a crucial BizTalk function as it’s basically where all the automated processes are coordinated and arranged. Files are inspected and processed according to the rules dictated by the Business Rules Engine.

The last step is the reassembling of messages in files that are now ready to be processed through the “Send Port” where they can be grabbed by the applications to which they are destined.

This process ensures that applications can utilize files with different formats and receive information in a way they understand it – capable of communicating with each other.

BizTalk functions as a sort of translator.

The solution, however, is not just a means to enhance Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), but to also be capable of automating a series of business processes like invoicing, ordering and paying.

Other benefits of integrating BizTalk in a business IT infrastructure are the reliability of the system that can flawlessly manage a series of operations without errors and delays. The system ensures the security of the data that it processes and allows a business to be compliant with many business standards and regulations, including the all-important Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) and US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards.

BizTalk is flexible as it can be integrated in existing business’ IT infrastructures and with Cloud technology, like Windows Azure. The latest release, in fact, allows hybrid connectivity through an enterprise-class hybrid app that integrates a business existing IT setup and private cloud with a public cloud.

In addition, BizTalk has proven scalability thanks to Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) capability that allows businesses to access apps in the cloud. Platform as a Service (PaaS) is also possible with BizTalk able to integrate Microsoft Azure, and is apt for Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, Business to Business (B2B) tools and on-premises software.

With so many options available, configuring BizTalk in the way that is most effective for business automation is essential to ensure the maximum gain for a company that decides to implement the system. An IT consulting service can be invaluable in calibrating the software to meet the needs of a business by integrating it in the existing infrastructure, setting appropriate business rules, and providing the initial training and the 24/7 support that can really make the difference.

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