New Microsoft server can monitor activities

With the latest version of its BizTalk Server software, Microsoft Corp. is targeting agencies interested in keeping a closer eye on business processes.

One of the new features for BizTalk Server 2004, announced last week, is its business activity monitoring function, said Susie Adams, a principal technology specialist for Microsoft's federal unit.

BizTalk is Microsoft's server software for orchestrating business processes. The server can route individual work items or other transactions throughout an enterprise. An IT business process is any series of actions that must take place for a single piece of information, such as a document that must be reviewed by multiple parties.

The new monitoring feature lets managers view summaries of data, such as how many vacation requests are on file, as the data is entered into the system.

"We give you the ability to view both real-time and historical information about the business processes that are running," Adams said.

The company says BizTalk works closely with both Microsoft Office and the Visual .Net development platform. Users can monitor the status of business processes on Excel spreadsheets. Managers also can design workflows using the Microsoft Visio mapping tool to give developers a simple road map for creating supporting systems.

The Retirement Systems of Alabama, the state office that oversees health insurance and retirement funds, is an early user of BizTalk 2004. The Air Force is using BizTalk server for its Global Command and Control System.

Government reseller GTSI Corp. sells the BizTalk Server Standard Edition for around $7,200 for one server. Other prices apply for the Developer, Partner and Enterprise editions.

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