MS recommends jaunt to Jupiter for true business processes

Margie Semilof

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- As Microsoft continues to sharpen its communication and collaboration strategy for IT administrators, it is becoming evident that the roles of Exchange and Outlook are being relegated to simple messaging and calendaring.

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    Customers who want true business processes and collaboration applications will have to dig into software that is much more complex.

    "Microsoft is solidifying the idea that contextual collaboration is something you will do through a platform and a tool set," said Dana Gardner, an analyst at Aberdeen Group in Boston.

    Small companies that are less worried about integrating applications will use Exchange and Outlook in this way, he said. But companies focused on business process management will have to work their way into something far more complex.

    To address that kind of complex business management, Paul Flessner, senior vice president of Microsoft's .NET Enterprise Server division, outlined the Jupiter initiative during his keynote speech this week at the Microsoft Enterprise Conference 2002. Jupiter is the code-name for a single platform made up of three bundled e-business servers: BizTalk Server, Commerce Server and Content Management Server.

    Jupiter will be delivered in two phases over the next 18 months. Flessner said that the company will offer an upgrade path for customers who want an integrated set of e-business servers. Jupiter will integrate SQL Server and SharePoint Portal Server, as well as Visual Studio. NET and Office, said David Kiker, general manager of Microsoft's e-business services.

    In addition to business process management and monitoring features, the platform will include more support for XML Web services standards, such as Business Process Execution Language for Web services.

    "Microsoft recognizes that it has too many servers," Gardner said. "What will be interesting is how [Jupiter] is priced. Not everyone will want to pay a lot, particularly if they don't want all of these features."

    Flessner also touched on Greenwich, the code-name for Microsoft's real-time communication server, which tackles presence applications like IM. The server will begin trials in early 2003 and is slated to ship later in the year.

    Product managers said that Greenwich, which requires .NET Server 2003, eventually will fold in other communications and collaboration technologies, such as those found in Exchange Conferencing Server. The platform supports three standards: SOAP, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and Simple, which is an API for exchanging presence information.

    "Microsoft sees the idea of presence as something that many applications will take advantage of, and because of this [capability] it can't be sitting on a proprietary e-mail system," said Peter Pawlak, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash., consulting firm. "The idea of someone being available for a peer-to-peer real-time interaction should be something the [operating system] takes care of, rather than an e-mail system which only certain users have."

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