Microsoft 'Airlift' Promises Tips On Portal, E-Business Servers

Information technologists wanting more detail on Microsoft's portal and e-business server offerings are heading to Seattle next week for the company's Portals and Integration "Airlift."

November 30, 2003

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Folks wanting more detail on Microsoft's portal and e-business server offerings are heading to Seattle next week for the company's Portals and Integration "Airlift."

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.Also expected are demonstrations of the cScape Wizard for Content Management Server. This software, co-developed by cScape Ltd. of the U.K. and Mondosoft of Denmark, promises to guide users step by step through content site deployment. The wizard could conceivably be distributed along with the new standard edition of CMS 2002, sources said. "This is a fast-to-Web accelerator for folks making the move from static to [dynamic] content-driven sites," said one source close to Microsoft.

Microsoft last month said it would offer a less-pricey version of Content Management Server 2002. CMS had been a whopping $42,000 per processor. The new standard edition will be $6,999 and be restricted for use on a single processor.

Partners will not have to wait for 2005 to get updated functionality in the e-business servers. The company is on target to ship BizTalk Server 2004 for application integration early next year. Also due as an interim update is a revamped, hopefully more intuitive, Business Desk feature for Commerce Server 2002.

This article appears courtesy of CRN (, the newspaper for builders of technology solutions.

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