There, a few hundred partners will be briefed on BizTalk Server 2004 and SharePoint Portal Server 2003, and how various combinations of the two can be used to build Web sites. Attendees expect to receive early access code for BizTalk 2004, beta versions of which have been available for a month or so.
Part of the agenda is to help partners understand Microsoft's portal strategy of the not-yet-converged offerings. Microsoft integrates some baseline portal capabilities in Windows Server 2003, but others are part and parcel of the portal server itself.
Another key focus will be knitting SharePoint Portal Server 2003 together with the current Content Management Server 2002 with new code. "That is the Spark piece," said one source. Spark is the code name for Microsoft Content Management Server 2003 Connector For SharePoint Technologies. Microsoft distributed beta copies of Spark at its annual conference in October.
The Content Management Server/SharePoint Portal Server/Spark amalgamation is an interim strategy. Theoretically, there will be much tighter integration between the various server software components, including the portal server, when Microsoft unveils its "Discovery" integrated e-business suite, due in 2005. Discovery is slated to include functions found in Commerce Server, Content Management Server and BizTalk Server, as well as tight ties to SharePoint Portal Server.