The arrival of Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) has caused a significant amount of confusion throughout the architect and developer community. After all, on the surface, WF can be construed as replacing elements of BizTalk Server. This leads to an inevitable question: Why should you pay for BizTalk when you have WF available for free?
This truth is, however, that WF and BizTalk complement one another and can work extremely well together to meet and exceed your solution requirements.
This chapter covers the basic principles of WF and then discusses how the BizTalk Server vision fits with WF. It then details which technology you might elect to use for a given scenario, and provides an overview of how Office 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services 3 (which both leverage WF) can work together with BizTalk to enable compelling and exceed, up until now, seamlessly integrated solutions.
This chapter is not meant to provide anything more than an overview of WF to help position it alongside BizTalk. A number of great books are available that cover WF in depth. The best at the time of writing is Essential Windows Workflow Foundation by Dharma Shukla and Bob Schmidt.