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Microsoft outlines new enterprise technologies

Microsoft has used the Microsoft Exchange Conference in California to sketch out details of the company's vision for a connected business environment based around Web services.

The company outlined a new e-business server project, code-named Jupiter, and gave more details about its vision for real-time computing in the enterprise.

Paul Flessner, senior vice-president of the .net Enterprise Server Group, extolled the value of a connected business, directly linking lower total cost of ownership and higher revenue and productivity with the ability to connect applications, systems, customers, and partners.

Microsoft has been driving towards connectivity through Web services and its .net technologies, he said. "The next step [is] a programmatic environment across the enterprise that is Web-enabled by Web services," he said. "Web services is focused on making this environment easier [by] pulling the complexity down and [getting] everything connected."

Part of reducing complexity and bolstering connectivity will come from Jupiter, a set of technologies designed to componentise and unify Microsoft's e-business server line of products. These include BizTalk Server, Commerce Server, and Content Management Server, according to David Kiker, general manager of e-business servers.

"E-business is about connectivity and getting access to data," he said. "Jupiter is a single integrated set of e-business technologies, building on existing products."

Essentially, Jupiter will offer business process management capabilities and Web services technology such as the BPEL4WS (Business Process Execution Language for Web Services) to allow servers to work together as a unified platform.

Jupiter will also provide tighter integration with Visual Studio .net and Office in order to improve the experience for developers and information workers. For example, through direct connectivity to Microsoft Office, Jupiter could allow a business user to monitor and manage a real-time business process from inside an Office application, Kiker said.

Jupiter will be delivered in two phases during the next year to 18 months. The first set of technologies is scheduled for the second half of 2003, with the focus initially on services for business process management, XML Web services, and internal and external integration.

Specific offerings were not detailed, but will include process automation, workflow, integration technology, support for BPEL4WS, and an integrated developer environment, according to Kiker.

The second set of technologies, to be delivered in the first half of 2004, will add services for commerce and content functionality such as content management, commerce services, catalogue management, site analytics, personalisation, and campaign management.

Flessner also gave more details about Microsoft's real-time communications project code-named Greenwich.

"Greenwich is a set of technologies that we will push into a platform around real-time communication and collaboration," he said.

Moving away from instant messaging tools as part of Exchange, Greenwich will deliver real-time communication and presence technology as infrastructure in the Windows .net Server OS. Greenwich will allow customers to deploy applications that are built on a real-time framework.

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