Microsoft Highlights Commerce Server Beta - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Highlights Commerce Server Beta

The new version makes it easier to link with third-party applications for ERP and other functions, and it sports heavy-duty Web services features.

Microsoft has had a beta of its upcoming at Commerce Server 2006 available since December, but is formally announcing it just now.

As previously reported, one goal of the successor to Commerce Server 2002 is tighter integration with BizTalk Server and the rest of the Microsoft server roster. That means there will be no more need for Microsoft Solution for Internet Business (MSIB), a make-shift toolkit for server integration.

One solution provider said the biggest advantage of the new version is that it's now much easier to link Microsoft's offering into the non-Microsoft applications that typically power ERP and SCM applications.

"All the core functions of Commerce Server now have comprehensive Web services wrappers. If you want to use it as a serious e-commerce platform for larger enterprises, the things you need to manage will be in the ERP or master data management system and that requires retraining people to do management in another system is very klugey," said Jean-Yves Martineau, co-founder and CEO of Cactus Commerce, an e-commerce specialist based in Ottawa.

Martineau also said the updated catalog building tools and controls are much more flexible and refined than in the past.

The final product, pricing for which is not yet available, is due in July.

So why announce now? "We really didn't do a big deal in December and wanted to highlight momentum and talk about the great integration with BizTalk Server, something our customers were asking for," said Markellos Diorinos, product manager. "They need e-commerce to be integrated with line of business applications."

As Microsoft has said, there will also be better compatibility with other of its own servers because they share ASP.NET 2.0 foundations.

Some solution providers say they need to check out tie ins to the Microsoft's Content Management Server both present and future. Microsoft recently acknowledged that with the Office 12/Office 2007 wave, it is converging Sharepoint and Content Management Servers along with Excel Services.

Microsoft Commerce Server competes with offerings from BroadVision, ATG, Blue Martini, and IBM WebSphere's lineup.

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