It's looking more and more like Microsoft's Commerce Server is following in the footsteps of Content Management Server.
That is to say it will pretty much cease to be a standalone product and instead--in the words of one e-commerce specialist--be sucked into the SharePoint vortex. (Polite readers might desist from pointing out that this post is almost identical to the Whither Commerce Server entry from nine months ago.)
What's newsworthy is that the future of Commerce Server is as murky as ever but indicators are it will pretty much go away as a SKU.
Exhibit A: Microsoft still has disclosed no roadmap post Commerce Server 2007 (aka Commerce Server 2006 which shipped last summer). This from a company that typically telegraphs such things to reassure partners and customers. News flash: Your Commerce Server partners are anxious and seeing companies go to what they term more pricey and less functional commerce implementations using (wait for it) IBM WEBSPHERE!
Exhibit B: The Microsoft "software plus services" take on SaaS idea is penetrating all product lines. Witness last week's news that the company is adding BizTalk Services to the franchise. No, this services vs. server thing is not a typo, the PR guy warned reporters cheerily. Ack.
Early versions of these services went out in CTP form last week. They are not a replacement to the venerable server, the spokespeep said. Rather they are a collection of a number of technologies that have been developed in the Connected Systems Division, so you'll see some .Net 3.0 functionality, some BizTalk Server functionality etc. etc.
All of this is part of Microsoft's vision of an "Internet Service Bus." (Why does Microsoft feel the need to invent new terms where there is no real reason? Their take: The ISB extends ESB goodies to the web. My take: Yeah. Okay)
Exhibit C: Content Management Server went through similar gyrations before it ended up changing groups and finally ending up in SharePoint land. Many partners feel this will be the case, and also that the whole idea is nuts.
Microsoft's statements to CRN over the past year have been that the company will continue to offer Commerce Server functionality post this last release, but with no details on deliverables.
A solution provider at the company's big partner confab in Boston last July pointedly asked a panel of executives at a lunch for Gold Certified partners lunch why there was literally zero chatter on the then-impending-release of Commerce Server at this huge show.
The pretty-much verbatim question: "All week I've asked about [the new Commerce Server] and no one has information. We're very excited it but why is there no mention of it and where is the product team?"
The answer then was silence. And it's been pretty much the same ever since.
It's time to start fessing up.