Ted Kummert, Microsoft's corporate vice president of e-business servers, presided over the BizTalk 2004 launch in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday afternoon. Just before he took to the podium he talked with CRN Industry Editor Barbara Darrow about his new gig. A 14-year veteran with the company, he has worked on Windows NT and Windows CE development, and most recently spent four years with MSN.
CRN: How will your MSN experience help you with e-business servers?
Kummert: Part of my work with MSN was to figure out what the whole software-as-a-service thing was about. We built a subscription business [and] an Internet access business. I did figure out a lot of things about being in the services business and having a 24x7 globally available operation, a lot about infrastructure software and what it can enable for businesses. An infrastructure that helps you run your business more efficiently can give you a competitive advantage, reduce cycle times and [help you] implement decisions better.
CRN: So you figured out the software-as-service thing? Good for you.
Kummert: Well, one thing I really learned that carries forward here and why I wanted to come to [the] e-business server [division at Microsoft] is how to deliver solutions that make businesses more productive.
CRN: What's the story behind Microsoft's recent decision to pull back from an integrated e-business suite?
Kummert: Well, our vision is to deliver solutions to customers to help them with Internet applications, connect them to trading partners and help them further automate their business processes. That's the Jupiter [suite] vision and our vision for BizTalk Server 2004; the first version of that is today with BizTalk 2004. That's unchanged.
There's the integrated platform aspect, where customers and partners said to us what they wanted was a more integrated and consistent platform from the development and operations perspective. That carries forward as part of the broader Windows Server Systems [WSS] effort.
The third element, as we talked to customers about how they like to purchase technology, was that their consistent feedback was they prefer simplicity and flexibility to purchase separately across portal and integration products. The value they want from implementation is consistent from developers, IT professionals and end users. We'll deliver that from WSS.
The feedback was on packaging aspect, flexibility. But that doesn't change the work we need to do.
CRN: Some of your partners say with this new version of BizTalk, the rules are changing. Customers are now looking at IBM, Microsoft and BEA Systems for integration, not necessarily the pure-play Tibcos, WebMethods, etc. Do you agree?
Kummert: Yes. Customers want a comprehensive platform, basic integration, EAI as well as connectivity to business partners to enable trading. And they want a platform that can really scale up. They say, 'Give me orchestration capabilities, tools to construct them easily and quickly.' Customers want a comprehensive solution.
CRN: Steve Ballmer told CRN last year that within a few years, EAI as a category will be dead in the era of Web services. Do you agree?
Kummert: I wasn't there and can't comment on Steve's comment in particular. But we see from our customers' demand for application integration scenarios, they want support for the future direction of XML, Web services, SOAs [service-oriented architectures], a forward-looking platform as well as something to leverage their [existing, older] investments.
CRN: With the recent reorganizations--such as sending Content Management over into SharePoint Server group, which is in another part of the company--aren't there going to be problems ensuring good interoperability between all these servers?
Kummert: One thing we heard consistently [about] the portal offering is people want consistency on that. That was the decision to align Content Management Server and SharePoint Portal Server organizationally. People want the portal to scale across their needs. We will work together as part of the WSS to deliver that across teams.
CRN: When you're in an account pitching BizTalk, what rival offerings are you competing with?
Kummert: In terms of competition, IBM [with] WebSphere as well as the pure-play players, and BEA.
CRN: Just to confirm, there is no price change going to BizTalk 2004?
Kummert: No. It's $25,000 for the Enterprise Edition, $7,000 for Standard Edition.
CRN: Is it available today?
Kummert: Evaluation copies are available today. General availability will be April 1.