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Microsoft to orchestrate e-business suite

In the next 18 months, the software maker plans to replace its BizTalk Server, Commerce Server and Content Management Server with a suite called "Jupiter."

COPENHAGEN, Denmark--In the next 18 months Microsoft will replace BizTalk Server, Commerce Server and Content Management Server with a suite called "Jupiter."

The software maker said here at the IT Forum that it would replace its three products in the e-business area with one suite, which will probably sell at a reduced price.

The suite, code-named Jupiter, which will combine the features of BizTalk Server, CMS and Commerce Server, will ship around the end of 2003, and replace all three of the servers on the market today.

"The current products will be broken down into components and put into Jupiter," said Dave Wascha, product manager for the new program. "We want to reduce the overlap and redundancy."

Wascha said that customers want to have features unified around business processes, not products, and that the suite will, like the Office suite before it, take previously separate functions and put them in one box. The functions of the three current products will be referred to under the headings processes, data and people.

Because Microsoft is still a newcomer to this area, the product will emphasize interoperability with others in the area of EAI (enterprise application integration) and business-to-business commerce, said Wascha.

The aim is to produce something that makes it all a lot simpler, he said. "We want business process analysis to be as easy for analysts to use as Excel." The product will use the Business Process Engineering Language (BPEL) proposed by IBM, Microsoft and BEA Systems as a standard.

Among the redundant tools that Wascha wants to clear out are multiple workflow analysis tools. "We have four, in CMS, BizTalk, Exchange and Commerce Server."

Because this is a bid to expand into a new market, Microsoft will probably make its Jupiter offer very tempting. "All current CMS, Commerce Server and BizTalk customers with maintenance agreements will get the full Jupiter suite automatically," said Wascha. "The price will not be the sum of the three current products--it is more likely to be the average."

This would imply a price of around $30,000 to $40,000 per server.

The "process" functions will be delivered first, as BizTalk 2002 (delivered in February) is replaced by Jupiter modules in the second half of 2003. The other two products will be replaced and Jupiter completed early in 2004.

Until then, the Jupiter code name will be promoted by pictures of the planet Jupiter and its moons--which amateur astronomers here said had errors such as including the moon Io twice. "Duplicating Io removes a single point of failure," quipped Wascha.

ZDNet UK's Peter Judge reported from Copenhagen.