In the last three chapters, you saw a variety of methods to perform asynchronous interoperability between the .NET and Java platforms. These included Java clients that access Microsoft Message Queuing (MSMQ), .NET clients that access WebSphere MQ, and the configuration of a bridge between the two queues.
In this chapter, we'll take a slightly different approach and look at how Microsoft BizTalk Server can be used not only to provide asynchronous messaging interoperability, but also to add significant orchestration functionality for messages that travel among various XML Web services. For those who haven't used the product, Microsoft BizTalk Server is Microsoft's integration server that combines core messaging capabilities with orchestration (or business-process) authoring, execution, and management. In general, this tends to encompass three areas:
Enterprise application integration Available for use with BizTalk Server is a very rich set of adapters used for connecting multiple applications and services throughout the enterprise. Some of these adapters are shipped with the product; others are available for download or purchase. The functions of these adapters range from transferring files by using FTP to connecting to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems such as SAP.
Automation of business processes BizTalk Server uses the concept of orchestration to create processes and schedules that can predictably control both enterprise applications and integration with partners and customers. To achieve this, BizTalk Server ships with an orchestration designer (providing a graphical view of business processes) and an orchestration engine (which allows orchestrations to be deployed independently of the design environment).
Deployment of applications Using a technique known as SEED, it's possible to create integration solutions that can be deployed easily and effectively to both remote locations and business partners over the Internet.
Be aware that this isn't a book on BizTalk Server. Although you'll see some of the fundamentals of the product in this chapter, the BizTalk Server product provides a vast range of functionality. To cover all this functionality could fill up an entire book. This chapter will target the elements of BizTalk Server that are relevant to .NET and J2EE interoperability. This includes how a BizTalk Server orchestration can be used to predictably call and manage a number of Web services, regardless of the technology stack they're based upon.
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For additional information on BizTalk Server, consult the Microsoft product page at http://www.microsoft.com/biztalk/ .