Paving the Way for ‘Jupiter’

Paving the Way for ‘Jupiter’

Mary Jo Foley

Microsoft still has yet to roll out the official Beta 1 release of the first phase of its “Jupiter” e-business suite. But that isn’t stopping partners from establishing Jupiter-ready facilities and practices.

Unisys is already prepping for what it expects to be an onslaught by independent software vendors (ISV) and enterprise customers for Microsoft’s competitor to IBM WebSphere.

Phase 1 of Jupiter, which is code-named “Voyager,” is simply an upgrade to BizTalk Server 2002. Microsoft officials say Voyager will go to beta one by the end of June and is still on track to ship commercially by the end of calendar 2003.

Phase 2 of Jupiter, code-named “Discovery,” will be an integrated bundle of BizTalk Server, Content Management Server, Commerce Server — and, according to some analysts – Microsoft’s Host Integration Server. That bundle is due out some time in 2004.

Get Your Code Names Straight

During the Windows Server 2003 launch, Unisys mentioned in passing that it planned to open a “Team Jupiter Lab” with Microsoft.

“The TJL offers a structured testing environment with a trained team of Jupiter support personnel that can work on any level of solution scenario and/or system design,” according to the one-line mention of the center that Unisys provided in its Windows Server 2003 press release.

Ian Grant, director of Unisys’ Microsoft Solutions Practice, and Peter Tripp, another director in the company’s Microsoft practice, filled in more details.

The first TJL will be housed at Unisys’ Redmond Technology Center, right off the main Microsoft campus. Some of Microsoft’s own Jupiter developers will be housed at the facility, Tripp says. Unisys is scoping out four other possible TJL sites worldwide.

The lab will serve a twofold purpose: It will provide potential Jupiter customers with a place to come for help in integrating their business processes with legacy applications—with Unisys providing the consulting assistance. And it also will provide third-party software vendors a place to test and certify their Jupiter adapters.

Jupiter will include an adapter framework as a core part of its architecture, Tripp explains. The lab will help independent software vendors (ISVs) develop adapters to plug into this framework as well as assist customers in creating their own “home-grown” adapters.

“Jupiter gives Microsoft an (adapter) platform like the WebSphere Framework. Bea, iPlanet and others are all providing tools to help you automate business processes,” Grant says.

Jupiter also is going to support the Object Management Group’s Model Driven Architecture (MDA), the Unisys folks say. This, too, will be good news for developers, since it will provide them with an architecture via which they can create applications visually direct from models, like developers did with CASE tools in the good old days.

Read “Microsoft Courting OMG Again”

Unisys also will use the TJL to highlight the vertical blueprints that it is developing to run on top of the Jupiter software, says Grant.

“We bring to the table vertical business processes — like airline reservation systems — that customers will be able to buy immediately,” Grant explains.

Grant says Unisys has been documenting these kind of vertical processes since last year. Unisys is building a collection of them around various Microsoft products, including Windows Server 2003, BizTalk and other apps. Unisys has been securing some key contracts via these blueprints. As Tripp and Grant point out, a late-April award of a $61 million state of West Virginia Medicaid contract to Unisys hinged on the company’s Medicaid Processing Outsourcing blueprint.

“Jupiter is Microsoft’s real serious play into the enterprise,” Tripp says. “(Business process) orchestration scalability has been tough to show. Microsoft knows they need a good story around this.”

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Microsoft Watch.