Microsoft conducts a great deal of business electronically. To achieve this, Microsoft devised a business-to-business system that focuses on operational soundness, operational control, and business document tracking. In addition to the complex and specific end-user applications (such as MS Market and MS License), and custom applications for tracking and control, Microsoft primarily uses two server products to integrate business processes and exchange business documents among applications and business partners, namely Sterling Commerce GENTRAN: Server NT and Microsoft BizTalk Server 2002.
Microsoft uses GENTRAN to process and transport Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Compatibility, Integration and Interoperability (CII) business documents, such as purchase orders and invoices, over a Value Added Network (VAN) to business partners. Microsoft also uses BizTalk Server to process and transport XML business documents over the Internet to other business partners. BizTalk Server is also used for many other functions as discussed in this and other chapters of this book.
Because of the problems associated with EDI, as discussed in the business-to-business introductory chapter, Microsoft is using more XML documents and using BizTalk Server to process and transmit EDI documents. The benefits of migrating to BizTalk Server and XML include: