Microsoft Slants Commerce Server for the Enterprise

The beta version of Microsoft's Commerce Server 2002 e-commerce site-building software is divided into Standard and Enterprise editions for the first time.

The beta version of Microsoft Corp.s Commerce Server 2002 e-commerce site-building software reveals a distinctive turn toward making the software an enterprise-class application suite.

In fact, this version of Commerce Server, which was announced today, is divided into Standard and Enterprise editions for the first time. The Enterprise Edition has increased performance and scalability to handle higher transaction volumes and larger product catalogs.

Other new features in this version are also geared more toward larger organizations, such as multiple language and currency support and centralized security management.

Microsoft Commerce Server 2002 Standard Edition is targeted at sites that use up to two CPUs and two Web servers, while the Enterprise Edition can run on unlimited CPUs and Web servers, officials said.

Commerce Server, known as Merchant Server and Site Server in previous incarnations, has previously been geared to small- and medium-sized organizations. It is typically used for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce applications and increasingly is being targeted for business-to-employee applications and government portals, according to L.J. Germinario, technical product manager for Commerce Server 2002, in Berkeley Heights, N.J.

Another new feature of the .Net-based server is integration with Microsofts Visual Studio .Net development environment through the Commerce Server Developer Portal. This will allow developers to develop for Commerce Server 2002 without having to use any custom coding. They can instead use the same tool they use for other .Net servers.

"It gives us a single environment for developers," said Germinario.

Developers will be able to create Commerce Server applications using ASP.Net and the .Net Framework with an Application Runtime, Base Class Library and Common Language Runtime Interoperability Layer, allowing ASP.Net applications to access Commerce Server services and systems, Microsoft officials said.

The beta version of Commerce Server 2002 also includes a Security Management Module, which allows e-commerce managers to administer permissions and tasks from a central application. Previously, those parameters were set within each application of the suite. Germinario said this is another feature that larger organizations require for security management.

The beta is available for download on Microsofts Web site. Pricing for Commerce Server 2002 will be determined when the product becomes generally available, which is expected to be sometime in the spring, Germinario said.