e-Business Servers

A unique challenge inside Microsoft is the positioning of a stand-alone product versus Windows and Office the cash cows of the company. To drive upgrade cycles the company is forever forced to integrate more and more functionality into these platforms thereby cannibalizing products that live at the fringe or even worse in-between.

A good example are application servers that are used to manage e-commerce and service interactions over the Web. Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS), called “Viper” was at the forefront of this technology when the hotly contested decision was made to ship it as part of Windows. Microsoft therefore has been perceived as not having an entry in this $7 billion and fast growing market segment.

Microsoft’s focus on the enterprise spawned a pack of individual server efforts including BizTalk, Commerce, Content Management, Host Integration and more. These servers with their overlapping functionally, missions and market segments – confused customers as well as internal organizations.

An e-business server division was formed to integrate all these products and find a proper market strategy. I joined the team to explore and find new product strategies and form teams around them. The first product we conceived was HWS (Human Workflow Services), the service focused on moving BizTalk up the Microsoft stack by offering a highly innovative ad-hoc workflow environment for Office.

HWS evolved into workflow technology for Microsoft SharePoint and ultimately evolved into a service in Windows.

The second product initiative we conceived was dubbed BAM (Business Activity Monitoring) targeted at the area of enterprise event monitoring and analysis. BAM in typical Microsoft fashion made it very simple to roll out deployments in an enterprise.

The third strategy was to provide easy to use portal technology that wrapped BizTalk and could be shipped as part of Microsoft SMB Server. Its target was small to medium sized business with simple activity orchestration and monitoring capabilities.

Microsoft’s enterprise and server development at this time was at its prime. Understanding the Microsoft ecosystem and the economic engine has been a privilege and highly stimulating. Living in-between Office and Windows was a true challenge but fun.