"Residents of the Fort Worth/Dallas metroplex are mostly unaware of the Dallas Convention Center. The facility, though vast, seems to sink beneath the concrete when it isn't hosting a show.
TechEd is Microsoft's yearly fete for mid-level IT people, the life blood of companies' technical operations. This conference is one of two chances (the Professional Developer's Conference is the other) to rummage around in the brains of Redmond's best and brightest.
The subject of my first bit of face time was on the subject of Yukon, Microsoft's next major release of SQL Server. Microsoft will ship a private beta of Yukon by the end of June. 1,000 big customers and development partners will be in on the private beta, which remarkably will be feature-complete. A broader public beta is slated for early 2004. I expected Yukon to dominate both the show and my attention; it managed neither. Instead, the wow factor here is BizTalk Server 2004.
Earlier articles on Yukon put it at the center of the Windows Server System, the new moniker for Microsoft's entire stack of server software. Either through the absence of vendor-supplied details or misleading PR, Yukon looked like the filesystem for Longhorn, the next major release of Windows. Microsoft has straightened that out (Longhorn will connect to Yukon, but it's not required).
Instead, BizTalk Server 2004 will be the Sun around which the rest of the Windows Server System revolves. It seems perfectly deserving of that role, having been the unacknowledged star of Microsoft's product line since its introduction. Now BizTalk has, at long last, been rewritten in managed code. The significance of that effort is enormous. BizTalk now lives on the .Net framework, permits the use of scripts written in any .Net language, and stores orchestrations as .Net assemblies. Integration with Visual Studio .Net is much tighter. One bit that took me completely by surprise: Office XP's incredible InfoPath XML forms client is wired into BizTalk as a front end.
For those interested in such trivia, BizTalk Server 2004 is the largest managed-code application ever developed. That isn't truly trivia if you consider the effort required and the fact that the effort was invested first on BizTalk. That gives you a sense of the weight BizTalk throws around in Redmond.
Now the InfoWorld reviews process begins, and lest I wind up disagreeing with myself (I do this often, but try not to do so publicly), I'll save my other observations until I've had some hands-on time with BizTalk Server 2004."
[via Tom Yager]
Okay, that's a bit extreme, but it's nice to see Dave Wascha et al finally get some recognition for BizTalk and its pivotal role...