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I've been given the job of setting up a Microsoft BizTalk staging server for our developers to test some integration for a client.

The catch is, I have no idea what BizTalk is, what it does, or what it is used for. Everything I can read about it on the Microsoft website is all just marketing fluff as far as I can tell, with lots of big enterprisey words (sentences like "BizTalk enables your organization to seamlessly integrate disparate systems and connect business partners")

Can anyone shed some light on what BizTalk actually does? Our developers don't know either, only that they have to integrate with it!

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Thank you for this question! I was looking for a brief meaningful and comprehensible description of BizTalk and couldn't find one! – ZweiBlumen Aug 30 '13 at 10:02
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Biztalk allows applications to talk to each other. It is used for sharing information or events between applications or systems that are needed to work together in a business process.

It provides a way of mapping inputs and outputs of different systems, for example when they use incompatible protocols or formats. I believe this is done in XML. It also provides collections of scripts or procedures, called orchestrations, that allow a set of actions to occur in target systems when triggered by something happening in another system.

It's an implementation of an enterprise service bus, which is a platform for building a service oriented architecture - if that helps...

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Aaah, sounds a lot like iBolt ( - thanks, that at least gives me a starting point! – Mark Henderson Jul 7 '10 at 8:54
Sounds more like DBus. – Tom O'Connor Aug 4 '11 at 17:30

To understand better the concepts of enterprise application integration I highly recommend you this book.

It gives an overview over all patterns you will see, and some input about the different competitor of the market (Tibco, Biztalk, and something from IBM I forgot the name).

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You can use it as basically anything, but I'd wager quite a few bucks that EDI is chief amongst Biztalk installations.

Basically; doing the translation between different e-commerce (b2b orders, invoices, what-not) file formats; thereby extending the domain of whatever ERP-ish software companies use.

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