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Microsoft steps out of the e-commerce platform business.

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  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    As Mary Jo Foley said yesterday, I can confirm now that Ascentium (the company I work for) and Microsoft have made a deal, turning over Commerce Server customers, code and rights to Ascentium. 

    Ascentium is a digital marketing company which purchased Cactus Commerce, this summer.  Cactus has been part of the product development for years now, gradually taking over more and more of the development activities, and will continue to support released versions, but Commerce Server 2009 R2 will be the final release of Commerce Server.

    You may be interested in more information here:  http://blogs.forrester.com/brian_walker/11-11-11-microsoft_folds_its_hand_abandons_commerce_server_what_it_means.

    I joined the Commerce Server product team at Cactus about a year and a half ago, and I assure you we are actively planning out the future of e-commerce platforms.

    If anyone has any feedback or ideas about what they would like to see in the future e-commerce platform, I'm all ears.

  • User profile image
    cbae

    Microsoft has their hands in way too many pots.

  • User profile image
    magicalclick

    Not sure what to make out of it. I am still trying to see how it will impact Dynamics suit. It seems like a middle man between various commerce products. If various business apps are moving onto Azure, it makes sense to have the middle man sitting inside the cloud too. It is kinda odd MS is not going to do that.

    Leaving WM on 5/2018 if no apps, no dedicated billboards where I drive, no Store name.
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  • User profile image
    cbae

    , magicalclick wrote

    Not sure what to make out of it. I am still trying to see how it will impact Dynamics suit. It seems like a middle man between various commerce products. If various business apps are moving onto Azure, it makes sense to have the middle man sitting inside the cloud too. It is kinda odd MS is not going to do that.

    I predict the sunsetting of the on-premises version of Dynamics within a couple of years.

  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    @cbae:  Microsoft doesn't have the services to support large e-commerce deployments which CS targets, so it is better for them to step out the way from a product unit standpoint, as we were not able to do the things customer really need, the way things were. 

    @magicalclick:  Azure/cloud computing is what I'm working on, for the new product.

    I'll also point out that the cost of the product will drop significantly, and more information will be released officially, soon (today or tomorrow I heard, but maybe not until Monday).

  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    , cbae wrote

    *snip*

    I predict the sunsetting of the on-premises version of Dynamics within a couple of years.

    I agree, but there is still a lot of customer demand for either private cloud or hybrid solutions.

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    , Richard.Hein wrote

    As Mary Jo Foley said yesterday, I can confirm now that Ascentium (the company I work for) and Microsoft have made a deal, turning over Commerce Server customers, code and rights to Ascentium.

    I thought Microsoft Commerce Server was a short-lived experimented from 2000-2002 that never went anywhere?

    I never understood why Microsoft made CS; smaller shops are better suited by platforms like Actinic or Magento, and the larger shops would just build their own systems from scratch. Where does CS fit in to anywhere?

  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    , W3bbo wrote

    *snip*

    I thought Microsoft Commerce Server was a short-lived experimented from 2000-2002 that never went anywhere?

    I never understood why Microsoft made CS; smaller shops are better suited by platforms like Actinic or Magento, and the larger shops would just build their own systems from scratch. Where does CS fit in to anywhere?

    Most of our customers are large shops, and other than the ones shown at http://www.cactuscommerce.com/clients/Pages/ClientsOverview.aspx, I don't think I'm actually allowed to say who they are, but there are some pretty big customers and many new and ongoing service engagements deploying CS.  Most of the customers require services engagements to integrate CS into their existing systems.  Rather than build the entire system from scratch, these customers use the engine and APIs to extend CS, and often build on top of SharePoint and use BizTalk for B2B and B2C scenarios.

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    , Richard.Hein wrote

    *snip*

    Most of our customers are large shops, and other than the ones shown at http://www.cactuscommerce.com/clients/Pages/ClientsOverview.aspx, I don't think I'm actually allowed to say who they are, but there are some pretty big customers and many new and ongoing service engagements deploying CS.  Most of the customers require services engagements to integrate CS into their existing systems.  Rather than build the entire system from scratch, these customers use the engine and APIs to extend CS, and often build on top of SharePoint and use BizTalk for B2B and B2C scenarios.

    Hmm, so if you had a large organisation that wanted to set-up a large-scale web-based e-commerce storefront and didn't have the time or inclination to build it from scratch, MCS offers a prebuilt framework that a website design can be pasted on top of?

    How does the front-end of MCS work? Do developers just replace the *.aspx files or is it more complicated than that? Usually sites built on top of a framework share common elements so I'm curious as to how MCS offers a good level of customization whilst remaining a "common platform". If it's based on ASP.NET then does it mean the sites have to use WebForms and Postback/Codebehind classes?

  • User profile image
    cbae

    , Richard.Hein wrote

    *snip*

    Most of our customers are large shops, and other than the ones shown at http://www.cactuscommerce.com/clients/Pages/ClientsOverview.aspx, I don't think I'm actually allowed to say who they are, but there are some pretty big customers and many new and ongoing service engagements deploying CS.  Most of the customers require services engagements to integrate CS into their existing systems.  Rather than build the entire system from scratch, these customers use the engine and APIs to extend CS, and often build on top of SharePoint and use BizTalk for B2B and B2C scenarios.

    I wasn't too familiar with the product, but I always assumed it was like an engine to build on top of rather than a turn-key solution that replaces and existing system. Microsoft doesn't do too many turn-key solutions, which is expected since they're more of an arms dealer to solution providers rather than being a solution provider themselves. As an arms dealer, you don't want to be competing with your customers.

  • User profile image
    cbae

    , W3bbo wrote

    *snip*

    Hmm, so if you had a large organisation that wanted to set-up a large-scale web-based e-commerce storefront and didn't have the time or inclination to build it from scratch, MCS offers a prebuilt framework that a website design can be pasted on top of?

    How does the front-end of MCS work? Do developers just replace the *.aspx files or is it more complicated than that? Usually sites built on top of a framework share common elements so I'm curious as to how MCS offers a good level of customization whilst remaining a "common platform". If it's based on ASP.NET then does it mean the sites have to use WebForms and Postback/Codebehind classes?

    I'm sure there are some CMS-type customization capability provided by the administration pages, but it sounds like more-comprehensive customizations beyond just tweaking some templates is required by most customers. Otherwise, companies like Ascentium wouldn't really be needed except to do deployments. Smiley

  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    , cbae wrote

    *snip*

    I'm sure there are some CMS-type customization capability provided by the administration pages, but it sounds like more-comprehensive customizations beyond just tweaking some templates is required by most customers. Otherwise, companies like Ascentium wouldn't really be needed except to do deployments. Smiley

    , W3bbo wrote

    *snip*

    Hmm, so if you had a large organisation that wanted to set-up a large-scale web-based e-commerce storefront and didn't have the time or inclination to build it from scratch, MCS offers a prebuilt framework that a website design can be pasted on top of?

    How does the front-end of MCS work? Do developers just replace the *.aspx files or is it more complicated than that? Usually sites built on top of a framework share common elements so I'm curious as to how MCS offers a good level of customization whilst remaining a "common platform". If it's based on ASP.NET then does it mean the sites have to use WebForms and Postback/Codebehind classes?

    Sample web applications come with the product, which many customers have based their sites on, including ASP.NET WebForms and templates for SharePoint as well as a collection of web parts.  Customers also build their front-ends on top of CommerceLive, which is an additional framework and hosted services offering, built on top of Commerce Server 2009 R2, and which our services teams use to build e-commerce sites for customers.  Sites can use whatever front-end technology they wish, however.  There are also web services for business tools; the tools are used to manage catalogs, marketing campaigns, profiles etc..., and to customize the Commerce entity schemas via metadata, without re-compilation.  Commerce Server also has it's own caching and customizable pipeline infrastructure, data warehousing and reporting, profile key management across farms, staging services, BizTalk adapters and so on.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    I never knew they were in the e-Commence business to begin with, but I recall hearing about this product in passing once. Was it part of MSDN or something?

  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    , cbae wrote

    *snip*

    I wasn't too familiar with the product, but I always assumed it was like an engine to build on top of rather than a turn-key solution that replaces and existing system. Microsoft doesn't do too many turn-key solutions, which is expected since they're more of an arms dealer to solution providers rather than being a solution provider themselves. As an arms dealer, you don't want to be competing with your customers.

    Commerce Server itself is a framework to build on top of, with only samples to build on and is built by the product team.  The services team built CommerceLive, another framework on top of Commerce Server and they use that (not always) to build custom e-commerce solutions.  The services team is a customer of the product team.  We are still selling the product to other e-commerce solution providers, and there is no plan to stop doing that.

  • User profile image
    Richard.Hein

    @Bass:  I think it is.

  • User profile image
    JoshAnderson

    As I mentioned to some collegues there is no way Microsoft will alienate ecommerce.

    There is too much of a demand and money to be made. 

    They transitioned CS to a new company to give warm and fuzzies to current customers (Among other reasons I am sure).

    Microsoft will have a full blown ecommerce solution, that is built directly on top of the Dynamics platform. I am not sure exactly of which combination at first, but CRM and SharePoint will be in the mix.

    "Microsoft doesn't have the services to support large e-commerce deployments which CS targets"

    That was what was said about the mobile phone arena and Windows Phone 7 was released and is back as a major contender and viable solution.

    There is billions of dollars available for Microsoft to handle and create the commerce arena. 

    Mark my words: they have something in the works. The bomb will drop after July 12th when CS is removed from the catalog.

  • User profile image
    cheong

    , magicalclick wrote

    Not sure what to make out of it. I am still trying to see how it will impact Dynamics suit. It seems like a middle man between various commerce products. If various business apps are moving onto Azure, it makes sense to have the middle man sitting inside the cloud too. It is kinda odd MS is not going to do that.

    AFAIK, since under the current law, the courts and other law enforcements in U.S. can force U.S. based companies to give whatever data they were demanded to give that hosted on their servers, lots of foreign companies has withhold their step in moving their core business data to the cloud.

    Recent Achievement unlocked: Code Avenger Tier 4/6: You see dead program. A lot!
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  • User profile image
    magicalclick

    @cheong:

    that is indeed major. thank for the pointer.

    Leaving WM on 5/2018 if no apps, no dedicated billboards where I drive, no Store name.
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