Microsoft last week launched two major pieces of its composite application infrastructure: a release candidate of Windows Server AppFabric, and the first BizTalk Server 2010 beta.

AppFabric, which was introduced at PDC last year, is intended to make the development and management of composite applications easier for .NET developers. Microsoft also offers a hosted edition, Windows Azure platform AppFabric, which provides connectivity services (service bus and access control) for .NET applications in the cloud.

Windows Server AppFabric incorporates Microsoft’s “Velocity” distributed in-memory application cache platform, and its “Dublin” management technology for Workflow and Communication Foundation applications.

The final release of the product will be available in June to customers with licenses for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

“The distributed, in-memory data caching system [that] Windows Server AppFabric includes could help developers build very high-throughput Web applications on ASP.NET,” said Rob Sanfilippo, research vice president of developer tools and strategies at analysis firm Directions on Microsoft. AppFabric will also save developers from having to write infrastructure code to deploy and manage WCF and WF applications, he said.

Currently, Windows Server AppFabric provides different capabilities than Azure platform AppFabric. The hosted edition does not incorporate Velocity due to technical problems. The AppFabric branding scheme may cause some confusion, Sanfilippo remarked, adding, “The two AppFabric technologies are to converge in future releases.”

BizTalk Server 2010 works with Windows Server AppFabric to enable developers to build composite applications that connect to disparate line-of-business systems through BizTalk Adapters and BizTalk Transformations from within .NET development environments, according to Microsoft.

The BizTalk Server 2010 beta, which was originally planned as “BizTalk Server 2009 R2,” adds support for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010. It includes updated adapters for Oracle and SAP systems, as well as new adapters for FTP, SharePoint 2010 and SQL Server 2008 R2.

An improved mapper tool should simplify translating message formats between applications, Sanfilippo said. Other noteworthy changes are new tools for setting up and removing connections between businesses, management tools, new performance tuning capabilities, and features that extend support of RFID tags, he added.

“All of these additions and improvements address gaps and short-term customer needs with the current BizTalk Server 2009,” said Sanfilippo. “It is good to have this release to keep the BizTalk up to date, but this is not a major release that will provide the product with substantial new capabilities. That will come with the next major release, which probably won’t arrive before late 2011.”

BizTalk Server 2010 will be released to manufacturing in the third quarter.