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BizTalk server 2006, where to start! (8/18/2006)

I am trying to do a quick learning of Biztalk Server and may want to gradually give any MS Certification exams on the same. Could you please tell me where to start? Can I install biztalk in my laptop (toshiba tecra s1, 20 GB hdd free, 2gb ram) Which book/online resource should I use? Do you have any installable tutorials on it? 
Thanks, Manjit


Dear Manjit
The first answer is yes. You can install BizTalk on your laptop with mentioned configuration, but don’t try it with less that one GB memory or you will really suffer. While doing the installation for BizTalk 2006 make sure that you have a proper internet connection that can afford around 50MB download during the installation. This is critical. During the installation of BizTalk 2006 it will install a couple of prerequisites and it has to download it from Internet. The disgusting part is that during the installation of those prerequisites, it doesn’t show you any feedback on the download progress. The only indicator that you can rely at this step is just checking your network monitor to see the download is going on. On my first installation I restarted the process 3 times and in all times I had the impression that the system crashed, while it was downloading the required elements.
By the way, before you install BizTalk 2006 you need to install SQL Server 2005 (or SQL Server 2000 with SP4), Visual Studio .NET 2005 and Windows SharePoint Services version 2.0 and preferably Microsoft Office 2003. If you are not installing office at least you need to install OWC (Microsoft Office Web Components), otherwise your Health and Activity Tracking will not work and BizTalk development without health and activity tracking is literally a nightmare.
The best training pack that I can recommend is free BizTalk server 2006 Tutorials. Just download it from the provided link and have fun. I studied the same tutorial for BizTalk 2004 and when I did the MCTS exam for BizTalk 2004 almost all the questions were there. The other very nice resource to warm up is Clinic 2954: First Look: Microsoft® BizTalk® Server 2006 for Developers. This online training is a wonderful free training. I myself completed it and it has lots of wonderful presentation demos and walkthroughs. This training is also free (at least for the time being). 
 Apart from all these things an instructor let training with an experienced BizTalk consultant will change the entire image. Simply the things that you may learn in 3 months with self study, with the help of an instructor you can get it in one day (No exaggeration at all). So if it is a corporate requirement also consider attending a course even for 20 hours introduction to biztalk server. Remember apart from a product, business integration is a concept that you cannot learn it by only learning the BizTalk server. To learn this part, the book Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004 unleashed (SAMS publications) has a wonderful introduction that will help a lot. Unfortunately at the moment I cannot recommend any book like this for BizTalk 2006.
 Also try www.BiztalkGurus.com, you will find lots of videos that help and teach you tricks. 
 I wish you best of luck and I am sure you will enjoy BizTalk a lot more that COM+. I seriously believe that BizTalk server is the sweetest product that Microsoft has ever released.
 Cheers
Alireza


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