Microsoft Corp is today expected to announce strategy and product details for its messaging and e-business servers focussed on increased security and reliability, simplified collaboration and web services development.
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft executives will officially open the company's Exchange Conference (MEC) 2002 in Anaheim, California, detailing plans significantly affecting the company's BizTalk Server, Commerce Server and Content Management Server products.
A roadmap will be announced for phased integration of the servers with each other and other Microsoft products, and the products' componentization. Componentization should mean users do not need to install a full version of a particular server and - instead - can pick only the features they want.
Microsoft is also expected to lift the lid on improvements to the next version of Exchange server, code-named Titanium. Improvements include radically improved management and server consolidation, and an XML-based API, XSO exposing Titanium to third-party developers.
Microsoft believes it can reduce systems administration overhead while ensuring Titanium is picked-up as a development environment for web services with the changes.
The biggest shake-up, though, is in Microsoft's emerging e-business server platform. E-business server lead product manager Dave Wascha declared Microsoft's intention to componentize and integrate the products, called the Jupiter family, with componentization scheduled for the first half of 2004.
Wascha cited customer feedback, saying organizations increasingly wish to mix-and-match e-commerce and business process products rather than buy from a single supplier.
Microsoft appears to be attempting to fit its relatively new products into a heterogeneous terrain dominated by vendors like Waldorf, Germany-based SAP AG. The company appears to have recognized e-business users are not loyal - or tied - to a single vendor, as they are in operating systems.
Wascha said customers would be able to select the functionality they desire instead of having to buy an entire e-business server. Exact packaging and pricing have yet to be decided but Wascha said componentization would introduce greater choice to customers.
"This is about how we reduce complexity from a technology perspective and buying perspective so we don't have 108 things to choose from on an a-la carte menu and you don't have to buy the big one product," Wascha said.
"You want personalization, you will be able to pull personalization out of the commerce server."
Increased attention to Knowledge workers is also planned as integration with the company's popular Office desktop productivity suite is planned. Tools in Office will be extended, enabling - for example - an Excel spreadsheet to analyze a business process.
Integration of the servers is a more immediate goal, planned for the second half of calendar 2003. BizTalk Server, Commerce Server and Content Management Server will see their separate development tools moved into the Visual Studio.NET development environment - increasingly the tools hub for Microsoft's other platform and server products.
Additional integration will come with support for Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BELP4WS) - Microsoft's first products to support the recently launched specification - WS-Security, WS-Routing and WS-Transaction. A library of some 300 BizTalk Server adaptors will be extended across the entire Jupiter family.
Light, meanwhile, will today be shed on Titanium. This version of Exchange will support features in the underlying Windows .NET Server 2003 operating system designed to simplify management, such as volume shadow copying. This enables administrators to take a snap-shot of a sever and up-date to the copy, reducing recovery times in the event of a crash.
Microsoft claimed it is able to consolidate five Exchange servers down to one, and that this would unleash the "next wave" of server consolidation. Also planned is file compression of up to 50%, to reduce size of data shifted between Exchange and the Outlook client.
Titanium functionality will be exposed to third parties via the XSO managed API. XSO gives developers a single, XML-based interface to write to when developing web services. This means the Exchange calendar, diary or in box could be populated with data from an outside application without using the traditional Collaborative Data Objects (CDO) route.
Jim Bernardo, .NET enterprise server group product manager, called XSO an "order or magnitude" different to CDO because it reduces development effort and is remotable. XSO also support Microsoft's Common Language Runtime (CLR).