Year in Review & Happy Holidays

2006 has been a truly interesting year for the e-commerce space at Microsoft. For what will likely be my last blog post of the year, I figured it would be good to share some personal reflections on where we have been and where we are going….

Premiering CS2007

This year saw Commerce Server 2007 finally ship, of which I am personally quite proud of the product and the team. Although it’s not perfect, it is by far the best piece of e-commerce technology to come out of Microsoft and the first truly geared for the large Enterprise scenarios. It was quite gratifying to see many of the CS200x rough edges like the Business Desk finally disappear, as well as some of the obvious feature omissions like Inventory finally get added.

It’s also great to be a technology trendsetter – by being one of the few solutions to include fully integrated deployment and health monitoring capabilities as well as the only (as of today) to be fully Web Service/SOA-enabled and EAI-enabled (via BizTalk 2006 adapters) solution out-of-the-box.

Getting the surrounding eco-system jump-started has been a Herculean effort across the team and a slower start than anyone here would have liked. That said, we are making great progress on all fronts. All of the surrounding Web downloads are done – such as the Language Packs, Partner SDK, BPA, and Starter Site. The first major documentation refresh and Performance Guide are now available, with the second and third major refreshes in progress. SP1 is coming with Vista client support, updated platform support, and all cumulative fixes to-date. And the Commerce Team Blog is now available at http://blogs.msdn.com/commerce/ – this is THE place for official tips and announcements.

State of the Industry

From an industry perspective, e-commerce is becoming cool again. Infrastructure renewal of sites put in place in the late 1990s to early 2000s that are now running on largely unsupported platforms is driving a lot of upgrades. Common definitions of multi-channel retailing are finally starting to coalesce. Demand for it is becoming real, as customers want to better integrate with their back-ends, suppliers, and brick-and-mortar channels. At the same time, making e-commerce infrastructure through altnerative marketplaces or available on non-Web devices is also a driving factor. Internationalization is also a big buzz word – focusing on making available brands internationally as well as the rise of e-commerce sites outside of the typical North American and European markets. From where things stand today, demand in the space overall is only going to go up.

Outlook for the Future

Internally, we have a lot in-store – based on our past track record of being dark for long periods (which I and everyone else are aiming to fix), I think folks will be pleasantly surprised. First and foremost is customer care – making sure any issues get fixed promptly as well as ensuring that all of the latest and greatest platforms are supported. Second, we have many initiatives underway to further round out the CS2007 eco-system surrounding the product. Third, we are also working on what happens next (and have been for some-time)…

As they say at the end of some of my favorite movies, “James Bond will return.” Here’s looking forward to 2007. Happy Holidays. Be seeing you.

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