BizTalk Server 2006 launch vs release date and SQL Server dependencies

Confusing isn't it: BizTalk Server 2006 will be launced on the same date as Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005.

At first I thought this was just because the release of Visual Studio and SQL Server 2005 was delayed after the naming had been finalized. The new version of BizTalk Server was announced later and so it could have 2006 in the name without looking a year old just two months after the release.

Well according to this interview with Scott Woodgate at TheServerSide.NET it seems the product is launched only for marketing reasons on the same date as Visual Studio and SQL Server. Apparently it doesn't mean anything for the release date. BizTalk Server will not be released on November 8, 2005 but somewhere in the first half of 2006. Here is a part of the transcript of the interview:

Q: You mentioned BizTalk Server 2006. It was just announced that BizTalk Server 2006 would be launched with Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 with a release to be sometime in the first part of 2006. Can you explain the difference between launched and released and when are we actually going to be able to buy BizTalk Server 2006 and deploy?

A: Well, you have to put with some Microsoft jargon here while I address that question Paul, So BizTalk Server 2006, I would love to talk to you about the features later in a minute, and SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio.NET 2005 are incredibly related products. With those three products, you can do a whole ton of things in the integration space. They are all built on the .NET framework 2.0. We support BizTalk supports SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio.NET 2005. So, these products, they are just meant to be together and this is really the first time in the history of the development cycle that all three products are lining up for a release in a similar timeframe. One of the challenges, however, as the BizTalk guy that builds on top of Visual Studio and SQL Server is for me to release I have to be waiting like everybody else, I am sure is on TheServerSide for SQL and Visual Studio to release. So once those products have RTMed, it will take me some time in terms of the development cycles to make sure that our product is on top of the RTM versions and released BizTalk Server. So, we want to be able to release the RTM on the same time. On the other hand, the SQL guys and the Visual Studio guys are doing some massive launch events around the world and it just makes so much sense for BizTalk Server to be in then. Just from a marketing perspective, lots of noise on BizTalk Server, you probably have been hearing more and more about BizTalk Server well you're going to hear it louder and louder through those. So, actually what Paul Flessner announced in his Tech-Ed keynote was that Visual Studio, SQL and BizTalk Server would launch on November 8, if I remember rightly and what launch means is a set of events where everybody has a party and I am sure that Visual Studio and SQL will be done by that point. On the other hand, BizTalk Server will not be done. We expect that BizTalk Server will ship in the first half of calendar year 2006, right now having just released the community technical preview, I would say I would be feeling pretty good about early in calendar year 2006. But I am going to leave it a little open to first half given that we haven't yet made it to a Beta one. The idea here is launching these products together from a marketing perspective builds to really work with each other and we will be delivering it shortly after them.

Note that the interview was just released on TheServerSide.NET, but seems to be recorded shortly after TechEd USA. So before Beta 1 of BizTalk Server 2006 was released.

Another thing that still confuses me is the dependency of  BizTalk Server 2006 on SQL Server 2005 and. Scott calls them "incredibly related products". I installed Beta 1 and noticed that the documentation recommends installing on top of SQL Server 2000 instead of SQL Server 2005. Some parts of Beta 1 of BizTalk 2006 even require some SQL Server 2000 components to be installed even if you are running on SQL Server 2005.

On his blog Scott calls Beta 1 "functionality complete". Considering the dependencies on SQL Server 2000, I fail to see how BizTalk Server 2006 takes advantage of new features of SQL Server 2005. I would be really disappointed if by RTM BizTalk Server 2006 will only run on SQL Server 2005 and no longer on SQL Server 2000. Microsoft wouldn't be pushing the sales of SQL Server 2005 without technical merit or would they? 😉

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