May 2007 - BizTalk RFID Coverage :-)
By Tony Baer
May 2, 2007
The beta of Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006 Release 2 is upgrading support for RFID and EDI. And, not surprisingly, it's adding support for the latest Microsoft platforms, including Windows Vista and Office 2007.
The highlight is RFID support. That's been a challenge for most servers because of the need to handle or filter huge volumes of data that would spew from these devices. And because these capabilities aren't cheap, developing them has been something of a chicken and egg question: demand for RFID has yet to hit critical mass, yet to spur market growth, middleware providers must invest in significant R&D.
BizTalk's approach is based on adapting the kind of plug-and-play technology used for connecting computing peripherals such as printers to RFID. Microsoft has built a device interface, to which device manufacturers design the drivers.
Developing the driver layer was child's play compared to the next piece: developing an event processing services that applies logic and rules to filtering huge torrents of data. Microsoft claims its RFID event engine is lightweight enough so it won't add too much computing load. It allows filtering to occur in layers, at BizTalk Server, or if the device or device aggregators are smart enough, to share some of the filtering there as well.
The other major addition is upgrading the EDI interface. This may not be quite as exciting as RFID because it is a 40-year old technology, but enough of it is out there that Microsoft had to develop a credible mediation layer to serve large manufacturers who still rely on EDI as their B2B transactional backbone.
Previously, Microsoft only had a rudimentary adapter that required significant coding and customization work. The adapter in release 2 will support the full schema for specific EDI transaction sets that Microsoft will gradually add.
The core Microsoft updated platform support includes the obvious pieces, such as Vista and Office 2007. And release 2 adds more granular support for aspects of the WinFX programming model of Vista, including Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and windows Workflow Foundation (WF).
By Clint Boulton
May 2, 2007
Determined to lead the market for RFID products, Microsoft is teaming with Intel to offer business customers a platform that will enable RFID transactions on various devices.
The companies will build a platform out of Intel's UHF RFID Transceiver R1000 reader chip and RFID Transceiver Interface with the Microsoft BizTalk RFID device-management and event processing software.
Microsoft introduced BizTalk RFID to the market last year as a complement to its BizTalk Server 2006.
Now, the software giant is looking to advance its RFID position with the help of chip buddy Intel and some Web services.
RFID is a snowballing technology for automatic identification, relying on storing and retrieving data using RFID tags or transponders. Many high-tech companies have been experimenting with ways to add RFID capabilities to their hardware and software, preparing for what analysts have said will be a multi-billion-dollar market for RFID tools.
Microsoft and Intel are two of these hopeful vendors.
"RFID remains a bit of an island unto itself," Steve Sloan, senior product manager in Microsoft's Connected Systems Division, told internetnews.com, noting that RFID was inaccessible for all except who could build custom, or expensive, systems.
With RFID tag and reader prices coming down, products such as BizTalk RFID and the Intel R1000 reader processor and Tranceiver Interface can help users execute tasks via RFID on their devices.
"Our goal was ... to make a platform to build apps on RFID and extend them to devices. The way we built this platform assumes that RFID will become the de facto standard in many verticals, including retail, manufacturing and health care."
In that vein, Anush Kumar, product manager for Biztalk RFID at Microsoft, said BizTalk RFID now features "plug and play" services for various RFID devices via an embedded provider for the Intel platform and Web services for interacting with devices and tag reads.
Kumar described the ease-of-use factor of the plug and play services as "like plugging in a mouse."
The software also boasts new management tools to control devices and deploy RFID business processes, integration with Microsoft's SQL Server for data management and business intelligence, and Microsoft Operations Manager to monitor and troubleshoot deployments. There is also "out-of-the-box" integration with Microsoft Dynamics applications.
For an increasingly mobile experience, future iterations of Microsoft's RFID platform will run on Windows CE-embedded devices and interface with the Intel RFID Transceiver Interface, enabling device discovery, provisioning, security, patch management and monitoring.
Microsoft and Intel announced the news at the RFID Journal Live conference this week in Orlando. Motorola also had news at the show, announcing a strategic RFID deal with labeling and ticketing product provider Avery Dennison.
In the agreement, Avery Dennison will supply EPCglobal Gen 2 RFID tags to Motorola, helping the handset giant to fulfill its business customers' demand for its portfolio of custom RFID tags, including its airline baggage tags and tags for asset tracking.
By John Fontana
May 1, 2007
Microsoft issues BizTalk Server beta
Microsoft Tuesday inched closer to releasing its RFID platform when it shipped the first public beta of BizTalk Server 2006 R2.
The server, Microsoft’s business process and application integration platform, includes a number of RFID-specific features, such as plug-n-play services for RFID devices, that Microsoft hopes will make it easier for companies to roll out the technology and simpler for vendors to build products on top of it.
BizTalk Server 2006 R2 Beta 2 is Microsoft’s first public beta of the software and is its biggest splash ever into the RFID market, according to company officials.
While RFID is the main focus, Beta 2, which is feature complete and slated to ship by the end of September, also features native support for electronic data interchange (EDI). Microsoft also added integration with Vista and Office 2007, including adapters for Windows Communication Foundation and Workflow Foundation in Vista, and for Office SharePoint Server.
Microsoft’s RFID announcement comes a day after the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a 154-page report detailing best practices for retailers, manufacturers, hospitals and federal agencies that says organizations that use RFID devices should systematically evaluate potential security and privacy risks posed by the technology.
Microsoft’s goal with BizTalk Server 2006 R2 is to drive the integration of RFID data, back-end systems and line-of-business applications using BizTalk as a hub.
The hope is to integrate real-world data at the edge of the network, such as the number of cases of a product sitting on a loading dock, with business process workflow and line-of-business applications like SAP to aid in decision making.
“The focus is to make this platform so it enables mainstream RFID adoption,” says Anush Kumar, product manager for BizTalk RFID. “If you provide RFID data for people to consume and act upon, you really enable them to make better business decisions.”
Microsoft is starting at the hardware level by supporting integration of RFID devices using a plug-in-play service designed to make attaching an RFID device to BizTalk as easy as adding a new mouse to a PC.
The plug-in-play is supported by a service provider interface that is much like an SDK that allows device manufacturers to create drivers for their products. Microsoft also will support some RFID standards out of the box, including the Low-Level Reader Protocol (LLRP).
BizTalk Server 2006 R2 also includes event processing services that filter, aggregate and transform the data collected from RFID devices into business events that make sense of the incoming data stream.
Microsoft is working with 100 partners, including Intel and HP, and has 30 early-adopters including two running BizTalk Server 2006 R2 in production.
While Microsoft is integrating the RFID features into BizTalk Server 2006 R2 Enterprise Edition, it will also offer a licensing option for running BizTalk RFID as a standalone server.
Final pricing was not announced.
May 2 2007
Meanwhile, Microsoft, which teamed up with RFID firm Alien Technology to develop its BizTalk RFID platform last year, is enjoying a hearty dose of attention at this season's trade expos ... not to mention the media -- in Europe.
By David Sims
May 2, 2007
Xterprise Incorporated, a vendor of High-Definition Supply Chain products, has named CRM veteran Richard Vazzana, current vice president of Global Teleweb at Novell and former vice president of global customer relationship management for IBM's (News - Alert) Business Transformational Outsourcing Practice, to its Board of Directors.
Vazzana has thirty years' technology industry experience with IBM in various executive sales positions. His focus has been in customer relationship management (CRM), business transformation outsourcing, and order-to-fulfillment technology products and development.
Xterprise Incorporated, a vendor of RFID-enabled supply chain execution software applications, announced recently that it has worked with Microsoft on the development and release of its XAM 2.0 high definition RFID-enabled RTI inventory management application.
The relationship between Microsoft, Xterprise and iGPS will enable customers using the application to provide a "high definition" view of an RTI asset tracking and management application, Xterprise officials say.
BixTalk RFID Server delivers plug and play velocity and accuracy for printers, readers and other devices.
An Xterprise customer, Intelligent Global Pooling Systems, evidently requested a way to manage its new 100 percent plastic pallet pool with embedded RFID tags. The retail pallet market is going through dramatic transformation, and "identifying a unit load by RFID dramatically increases the accuracy of tracking and tracing products throughout the supply chain," according to Walter Kerr, chief information officer for iGPS.
By Clement James
May 2, 2007
Redmond teams up with Alien Technology
Microsoft has teamed up with radio frequency identification (RFID) firm Alien Technology to develop its BizTalk RFID platform.
The companies are using the Microsoft BizTalk RFID platform and Alien RFID devices to deploy a system called iSUM developed by tech firm Xterprise.
ISUM is designed to provide a platform for tracking assets across the supply chain, and for enabling organisations to improve supply chain visibility.
"The confluence of enterprise-class Gen 2 RFID readers, highly capable infrastructure software such as BizTalk RFID, and implementation of best practices developed in collaborative settings, will be essential to the continued rapid global adoption of RFID," said Susan Pearson, vice president of alliances at Alien Technology.
Steve Sloan, senior product manager in the Connected Systems Division at Microsoft, added: "We have worked closely with Alien and Xterprise to implement BizTalk RFID and Alien RFID readers in the iSUM application."