Microsoft is banking that a renewed Windows Server Systems blitz will make up for its lack of an e-business suite.
To prove its point, the company recently unveiled its new integration server with tight links to the operating system as well as to Content Management Server, Commerce Server and SharePoint Portal Server.
In the integration space, where even Microsoft acknowledges the great branding job IBM has done with WebSphere, the Redmond, Wash., software giant will tout how well BizTalk Server 2004 works with the rest of the Windows 2003 servers. Microsoft maintains its lineup compares favorably with rival offerings from IBM and BEA Systems, and solution providers say Microsoft just might be on to something.
"A lot of customers who may not have looked at BizTalk before will now seriously consider it," said Burley Kawasaki, CTO of Equarius, a Bellevue, Wash., Microsoft partner. "[Microsoft has] changed this into more of a platform discussion. When customers look at Microsoft, they also look at IBM and BEA, [but] they don't necessarily look at the pure-plays, like Tibco and webMethods."
Slated to ship April 1, BizTalk Server 2004 has been enhanced with a scalable messaging engine to manage and orchestrate workflow, and support for Business Process Execution Language (BPEL). Other additions include the ability to find and fix workflow breaks, as well as view dashboards that monitor business activity. Developers now can make use of the graphical capabilities of Visual Studio .Net 2003 to design new workflow processes. Partners including Hewlett-Packard and Siebel Systems trotted out their own supporting products and services.
"The value of being part of a larger platform is consistency," said Ted Kummert, Microsoft's corporate vice president of e-business servers, speaking at last week's BizTalk launch in Mountain View, Calif. Customers and partners want "a more integrated and consistent platform from the development and operations perspective. %85 That's why we wanted to deliver [BizTalk] as part of a complete enterprise server platform, and that's the Windows server platform."