Servicing the Web

Microsoft will unleash Web services and storage initiatives, plus Commerce Server 2002, at TechEd this week.

Microsoft Corp. will take to the streets of New Orleans this week to drum up support for its forthcoming Web services and storage initiatives.

At its TechEd conference, the Redmond, Wash., company will release its Commerce Server 2002 e-commerce site-building software, and it will address storage and the treatment of data in its next version of SQL Server. The company will also announce the availability of its first commercial Web service, MapPoint .Net, said sources familiar with the announcement.

Commerce Server 2002 has a range of new features geared more toward larger organizations, such as multiple-language-and-currency support and centralized security management.

While Commerce Server has been typically used for business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce applications, it is increasingly being targeted for business-to-employee applications and government portals.

Another new feature of the .Net-based server is integration with Microsofts Visual Studio .Net development environment through Commerce Server Developer Portal. This will allow developers to develop for Commerce Server 2002 without custom coding.

Microsofts new hosted, programmable MapPoint .Net Web service will allow developers to integrate maps, driving directions, distance calculations and other related features into business processes and Web sites.

Despite the availability of such services, analyst Matt Rosoff, of consultancy Directions on Microsoft Inc., in Kirkland, Wash., questioned their commercial viability.

"I think we are also going to see the release of a milestone software development kit so that developers interested in the .Net My Services can begin building applications," Rosoff said.

To that end, Microsoft will use the conference to announce a range of customers and partners using its .Net Web services technologies, including Pacific Life Insurance Co., Fujitsu and New York-based iWay Software, which will announce a unified strategy to deliver more than 200 adapters for Web services and BizTalk Server 2002. iWay officials said the companys strategy is to use its adapters to enable users to expose legacy applications as Web services.

Meanwhile, Actional Corp., in Mountain View, Calif., will announce SOAPswitch, a Web services gateway that allows users to publish secure and manageable Web services, as well as transform software into Web services, officials said.

Alphora Inc., in Provo, Utah, will announce a development tool for .Net Framework that automatically develops code for applications using a combination of relational database management system concepts and data management methods, said Nathan Allan, Alphoras director of development.

Also at the conference, Microsoft executives are expected to talk about server software under development that will allow businesses to host their own .Net My Services data.

In addition, Paul Flessner, senior vice president of Microsofts .Net Enterprise Server division, will describe some features and functionality due next year in the next version of SQL Server, code-named Yukon.

Customers and users seeking more information about the unified storage model expected in Yukon, called Storage+, and how it will be incorporated into Windows, wont get it next week. A Microsoft spokeswoman said public discussion of Yukon at such a high level will not take place.

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