Sunday, July 6, 2008

Is Talking Business Cheap?

As part of my Dynamics AX 2009 project we are evaluating the use of BizTalk as a mechanism to integrate data between our LOB systems and DAX. As we are a value retailer (Sounds cooler than calling us cheap-ass), it is in-bred in us to maximize our spend. (Also sounds cooler than milking it).

BizTalk is expensive, you cannot hide from this fact. A 2 processor license for the Standard Edition will set you back $17,000 and for the Enterprise Edition you are in for a stonking $70,00. My reference is here. I am sure that one can argue that this is before discounts etc etc but lets just talk list for this exercises. So what does the Enterprise Edition give you that costs $53,000 extra. You can go from a limit of 5 applications to unlimited. It also allows you to use more than 2 processors and it scales out better with fail over clustering etc etc. Apart from that the functionality is pretty much the same. Now I would imagine that most medium to larger enterprises would probably be OK with the Standard Edition depending on how many disparate systems are lying around.

On one of my late night web blundering, trying to find out more about this animal and potential alternatives I came across something quite exciting. I found a company based in the UK by the name of Quality Componentware. These guys are BizTalk consultants and are Micrososft Gold Certified Partners. If one digs a bit deeper you will also find out that they have written an alternative to BizTalk called SmartsIntegrator. The pricing? $499 per machine!!!! And it does not look that bad. I downloaded a trial version and had it installed and working on my PC within half an hour. Compare this with the day it took us to get a test version of BizTalk up and running.

After installing the product I browsed around and found it relatively intuitive. I created and inbound and outbound file location. Dropped file into one side and a second later it appeared on the other side as expected.

I am in no way endorsing this product and cannot find any customer references on it, BUT at the price surely it is worth investigating? I am certain that BizTalk will club it in terms of volume handling and pure functionality BUT does every business need that?

If you have heard about or worked with this product your comments would be most welcome.

- Paul Steynberg

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