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Microsoft scrubs Jupiter project

Feb 17, 20043 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMicrosoft

Microsoft has shelved its Jupiter project that focused on the integration of commerce, content management and integration technology into a single suite.

Company officials said they pulled the plug primarily because customers said they had no need for the Jupiter suite. It was to integrate BizTalk Server, Content Management Server and Commerce Server.

While customers can integrate the three servers on their own, the monolithic suite potentially could have created licensing issues and other headaches while not adding much functionality, according to observers.

The news of Jupiter’s demise comes just two weeks before the release of BizTalk Server 2004, which had been described as the first phase of the Jupiter project. While the latest version of BizTalk will be released March 2, there is no longer a Phase 2, which was tagged “Discovery” and would have integrated BizTalk with the other two servers.

Microsoft’s original intent with Jupiter was to marry its portal and business integration software to compete with the likes of IBM’s WebSphere and BEA’s WebLogic. They hoped to take the pain out of integrating the three Microsoft servers by providing a pre-integrated suite.

“Customers have told us that they want to buy these two pieces separately – portal and integraton – so we have readjusted,” says Steven Martin, lead product manager for the e-business server team. “All of our goals for interoperability are the same.”

Martin, however, did not have details on how the servers would be integrated or designed to work together. He says those details are still being worked out along with new roadmaps for both Content Management Server and Commerce Server.

Martin also says Microsoft is mulling a number of options to align the Jupiter concept with Longhorn, the next version of the operating system due out in 2006.

“It’s too early to tell if Jupiter features will be made available in the OS,” says Martin.

Trouble appeared for Microsoft as early as last June when it said Jupiter would be delayed until 2005. Rumors also circulated that Commerce Server sales were not meeting Microsoft’s internal projections.

Last fall, other signs appeared, as organizational changes aligned Content Management Server with SharePoint Portal Server under the Information Worker group at Microsoft, and David Kiker, the general manager overseeing the Jupiter project, was reassigned.

“The Jupiter bundle just never made sense to me,” says Peter Pawlak, an analyst with Directions of Microsoft, an independent analyst firm focusing on the software giant. “I saw it as a competitive response to WebSphere, but when Microsoft talked to customers they said they did not want to buy it as a suite.”

Now the emphasis will be on how the former Jupiter servers fit into Microsoft’s portal model, according to company officials. Those efforts, however, won’t be without their own questions.

Pawlak said Microsoft will face new challenges trying to integrate Content Management Server with SharePoint Portal Server because the two have very distinct and different infrastructures. Microsoft acquired the Content Management Server technology when it bought NCompass Labs for $36 million in May 2001.

Microsoft also plans to integrate other pieces of the Jupiter suite with SharePoint Portal Server 3.0, which is slated to ship in 2005. The workflow engine from BizTalk Server 2004 will become a foundation technology in the portal server, Microsoft officials said in June 2003 at the company’s annual Tech Ed conference.