Earlier today I learned about the new partnership between Microsoft and Cactus Commerce through some press releases, but finally some official announcements come from the Commerce Server product team.

Ryan Donovan has blogged on both the Commerce Server product roadmap and the new Commerce Server Information Desk (CSID) program: Official Announcements: Commerce Server Product Roadmap & Information Desk Program. Here are some of the things I took away from the post:

  • Technology
    • Commerce Server “7” (codename) - next major version of Commerce Server, targeted for mid-2000
    • Commerce Server 2007 accelerators - a la carte additions that you can add to your CS 2007 implementations
      • Technology integration - MOSS 2007, Dynamics, Live services, and Silverlight (wow!)
      • Vertical scenarios - Merchandise/retail, apparel, electronics, digital downloads, and hospitality
    • Pricing, licensing, packaging, and naming are all TBD
  • Resources and support
    • Commerce Server Information Desk (CSID) program
    • Aims “to provide top quality pre- and post-sales engagement support”
    • Product-group managed program immediately available through csid@microsoft.com

I am very excited about both of these announcements. It’s exciting to hear that the product team is plugging away at the next version of Commerce Server, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the accelerators! I’ve wanted this for a long time now - true integration to other MS products as well as the ability to specifically target certain industries.

My guess is that these accelerates are/were the intellectual property (IP) of Cactus Commerce, and that this new partnership has allowed Microsoft to bundle them into the product. Can anyone validate or invalidate this statement?

Ryan also posted an announcement on his personal MSDN blog: In-Depth: Commerce Server Product Roadmap & Information Desk Program Announcement. Here are some of the additional nuggets I took away from his post:

  • CS 2007 is now a year old! (time flies …)
  • Commerce Server “7” will be the seventh major version of MS’s e-commerce platform
  • Features
    • Migration from CS 2007
    • Commerce Foundation 3.0
      • An **all-managed foundation **(finally!)
      • A consistent programming model
      • 2-tier and 3-tier/web-service support for runtime and management services
    • Commerce-at-Your-Fingertips
      • It’s not just about the Web site
      • Kiosks, mobility, and in-store integrations (wow!)
    • Lifestyle Commerce
      • Social networking (man, this would be SO handy right now …)
      • Personalization
      • “… targeted marketing across all channels with predictive analytics to measure the results and make adjustments …” (artificial intelligence?)
  • “… long-term arrangement with Cactus Commerce … as the new preferred joint development and go-to-market partner for Commerce Server.”
    • MS Partners and customers can leverage Cactus’ experience and expertise
    • Working along with the product group

Great stuff! The features that will come in Commerce Server “7” look to be outstanding!

While I am happy to hear about Microsoft’s joint venture with Cactus, I do have some questions regarding Cactus as the new “go-to-market” partner …

  • What does this actually mean to us (i.e. Microsoft partners)? How exactly can we leverage their expertise?
  • While I’ve never consider us to be in competition with Cactus (different markets), it does seem strange that we may compete against Cactus for solutions and services yet will rely on them for sales and delivery support. How is this going to work?
  • Who’s really at the helm? Microsoft, or Cactus? (_this is asked facetiously … _)

Again, it’s all good stuff. I think the partnership is really going to drive things forward. It’s a great time to be involved with Commerce Server!