Mission to “Jupiter”: Building the Connected Business

EDITORS’ UPDATE, Feb. 13, 2004
— Microsoft Corporate Vice President Ted Kummert has provided an update to customers and partners on the


Jupiter


vision and E-Business Products. Please see the following link to learn more about his communication with customers and partners:

http://www.microsoft.com/biztalk/evaluation/news/JupiterUpdateLetter.htm
.

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 8, 2002 — The emergence of powerful new Internet technologies is transforming the enterprise. The tools of e-business — application servers, e-commerce solutions, information portals, business process automation products, and more — offer companies the opportunity to solve some of the business world’s most intractable problems. And they have become essential to the success of the modern enterprise.

At the same time, the proliferation of new technologies and solutions has made the technical challenges that enterprises face significantly more complex, and introduced an entirely new set of problems to solve. Today, the steps involved in building the integrated enterprise — such as connecting new e-business solutions with legacy systems, creating links between buyers and suppliers, and setting up automated business processes that span systems — can be extremely time consuming and expensive.

As part of its ongoing effort to help companies take full advantage of the potential of the next generation of e-business solutions while getting the full benefit of their existing information technology investments, Microsoft has begun a project that brings together a number of their e-business software applications, specifically Microsoft BizTalk Server, Microsoft Content Management Server, and Microsoft Commerce Server. Codenamed “Jupiter,” this new offering will fundamentally transform the way enterprises build their e-business solutions.

David Kiker, general manager of E-Business Servers at Microsoft, spoke with PressPass about Microsoft’s vision for
“Jupiter”
and how it will help companies reduce IT complexity and connect people, processes, and information through an integrated, standards-based e-business infrastructure.

PressPass: Today you are announcing Content Management Server 2002 and laying the roadmap for Microsoft’s e-business vision, codenamed


Jupiter.


Can you explain the impetus for this vision and how customers are to participate in this roadmap?

Kiker: Today marks a great day for our division. Content Management Server 2002 is the third e-business server to be launched this year, and we’re really excited about it and the success we’ve had in the last 10 months with this award-winning server family. Customers, partners and the entire industry have told us that we’ve developed the right solutions to solve their e-business problems, but we’ve also heard that they would like to see our offerings more integrated. Essentially, our vision for
“Jupiter”
is a project that aims to create a single, unified offering that will enable companies and end-users to analyze and react to the information, people and business processes of a truly connected business. To do this, the project will integrate Microsoft’s three best-of-breed e-business servers — Microsoft BizTalk Server, Microsoft Commerce Server, and Microsoft Content Management Server — and leverage the inherent Microsoft assets, including Microsoft Visual Studio .NET, our Windows application server and Microsoft Office. The road to
“Jupiter”
begins today with getting our customers on board with Content Management Server, BizTalk Server and Commerce Server. Those are the foundation for our vision and where customers can go today to get to
“Jupiter.”

There’s a second reason for this project, which is that there’s widespread frustration with several characteristics of today’s e-business software. One is that the software tends to be big, monolithic applications with too many features so there is a huge amount of redundancy. For example, if you buy an e-business solution from one vendor for one task, and another from a different vendor to handle another task, you’ll almost certainly end up with a lot of features and functionality that overlap. As a result, many business people I’ve talked to feel like they’re spending money on features that they don’t really want. Then there’s the problem of dealing with proprietary software, which limits who you can connect with.

PressPass: What are the advantages to customers of an integrated offering that includes BizTalk Server, Commerce Server, and Content Management Server?

Kiker: Without question, e-business tools are already revolutionizing the way companies do business. But in a lot of ways, e-business solutions as they exist today have probably created as many new challenges as they have solved, starting with the very difficult issues that arise when you try to connect disparate systems that are built on different platforms, or that don’t speak the same language, or that don’t share a common set of tools.

Today, if you are an IT administrator, you probably have dozens of different products that you need to manage and monitor that come from different vendors and run on different platforms. It’s tough enough sometimes just to keep them all running. Integrating them can be virtually impossible.

With
“Jupiter,”
we’re making sure all of our products connect seamlessly and easily, and we’re also making sure you can pick and choose the right components for your specific application needs. Customers want to be able to leverage and extend their current IT investments into a more unified ecosystem of information, people, and business processes. Ultimately, we think this will deliver two absolutely critical benefits for IT managers. First, if you are an IT department, you’re probably viewed as a cost center rather than a strategic asset. We think that the cost savings and increased efficiencies that “Jupiter” will deliver will be a fantastic benefit to our customers, in part because you will be able to use what you already have in-house and are currently deriving real value from.
“Jupiter,”
combined with .NET software, is about using what you have and turning IT into a resource for business agility.

The second benefit is that
“Jupiter”
means the dawn of the truly integrated enterprise, in which partners, employees, and customers will be seamlessly connected with information and process. When that happens, the IT organization becomes central to creating real strategic business advantage by providing the ability to drive incremental revenue, and deliver insight into customers, markets, and processes that are very difficult to achieve today.

PressPass: Can you tell us about some of the features that


Jupiter


will offer?

Kiker: There are four core design themes for
“Jupiter.”
The starting point is business process management. Business processes are central to the core value of any enterprise, because your business processes will allow you to leverage your people and products and create business value. Providing the ability to create unified business processes that span an enterprise and extend to partners and customers is essential to creating the connected business and it is the key part of our vision for
“Jupiter.”

The second design theme is interoperability.
“Jupiter”
is being built to solve the problems that are inherent today when you try to connect all of your existing systems and solutions. We want to make certain that customers can connect their business regardless of platform or language, particularly because corporations today have years’ worth of technology investments that are mission-critical, and must be integrated and connected. In addition,
“Jupiter”
will offer support for Web services so new applications built on XML will be easy to build and easy to integrate, while also providing solid connectivity with application adapters that will make it easy to link to legacy and proprietary systems.

Integration is the third design theme. Whereas interoperability focuses on the ability to connect with products from other vendors, integration centers on providing a single set of tools for solutions of all types. Today, by the time you implement an ERP solution and a CRM solution and a human resources application, you have three different sets of workflow tools that don’t share common functionality and are difficult to link together. With “Jupiter,” it doesn’t matter if you are building a commerce pipeline, an order management system, or a customer management application — you’ll be able to use the same set of tools, and it will be easy to connect that process to other critical business processes.

The fourth design theme is componentization. As I mentioned before, this is really critical to the businesses I talk to. The lack of flexibility of today’s e-business solutions is deeply frustrating to most business decision makers. To solve a small problem often requires buying a huge application, or even a whole set of applications. Larger issues may require patching together solutions from multiple vendors that have redundant features and may not work well together.
“Jupiter”
is being designed so it can be more fluid in nature, allowing customers to only use the components they need to solve the problem at hand.

PressPass: What kind of businesses will take advantage of


Jupiter?

Kiker: One of the biggest challenges of e-business right now is that it is so complex and expensive, and that it is basically only available to the massive and not the masses. Our vision for
“Jupiter”
is to make e-business much easier to use so we can dramatically lower the barriers to entry in terms of cost and complexity, and provide for every size business. For example, today Ford Motor Company has standardized on BizTalk Server. We want to make e-business accessible enough so that not only the Fords of the world can take advantage of it, but even Ford’s smallest suppliers can use it too.

PressPass: What is the release schedule for


Jupiter?

Kiker: We plan to release
“Jupiter”
in two phases. Phase one will focus on business processes and integration, and will be available in the second half of 2003. The second phase will add commerce and content management functionality, what I like to call the people-connecting technologies. It will be released in the first half of 2004.