Microsoft has released many of the products that officials promised earlier this year would be its biggest release wave in the company's history. But there are still a number of key Microsoft enterprise products in development which haven't gotten the attention (and ad dollars) that Windows 7 and Bing have, as of late.
At the company's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) right before Thanksgiving, Microsoft shared updates on some of these products. Here are some of the promised deliverables -- with due dates, when I could find them.
Active Directory: Microsoft is readying a number of Active Directory add-ons that company officials are counting on to provide a backbone for the three-screens-and-a-cloud vision that Microsoft execs love to tout. The company is working on what it calls Next Generation Active Directory (NGAD), which is a federation service more than it is a whole new version of Active Directory. The goal is to enable users to "federate across all our directories -- the phone, the PC and the cloud," said Identity Architect Kim Cameron. Microsoft took a first step toward enabling NGAD (which so far, has no public due date) by releasing to interested parties in mid-November a downloadable schema application programming interface (API), system.identity. In the nearer term, Microsoft is planning to deliver the near-final Release Candidate (RC) test build of Active Directory Federation Services 2.0 before the end of this year and deliver the final version within the first quarter of 2010, Cameron said. ADFS 2.0 is one component of Microsoft's "Geneva" identity platform. Microsoft released to manufacturing its Geneva framework piece (now known as Windows Identity Foundation) a week-plus ago.
BizTalk Server: There are three relatively near-term releases of Microsoft's enterprise integration server, BizTalk Server, in the pipeline. In 2010, Microsoft plans to deliver BizTalk Server 2009 R2, which will be a "minor" update that adds support for Visual Studio 2010, SQL Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008 R2. The R2 release also will feature a new map design tool and a FTP-protocol-centric adapter. The company also is readying BizTalk Server 2006 R2 Service Pack (SP) 1, a beta of which is available now and the final release of which also is slated for some time in 2010. Further out (no release dates available, but I'd estimate 2011 at the very earliest), Microsoft is working on a new "major" version of BizTalk, which it is calling BizTalk Server vNext. This release will be built on top of Microsoft's just-announced Windows AppFabric platform (Dublin app server plus Velocity caching technology plus .Net Services). It also will allow developers to host some integration components in the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud and keep some on-premises, I'd assume by taking advantage of the forthcoming Windows Azure AppFabric release, which is slated to go to testers in 2010.
Office Communications Server: OCS 2010 (or whatever Microsoft ends up naming the next release of its Office Communications Server product), looks like a late 2010 deliverable, from the roadmap slide company officials showed at the PDC. With Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 slated to launch by mid-2010, that would mean OCS 14 will be done -- after an early-adopter "Metro" OCS 14 test period -- about two years after the most recent version, OCS 2007 R2, went gold. Integration is the watch word for OCS 14 (and the accompanying Office Communicator 14 enterprise client): There will be integration with Exchange Server 2010 data and business logic and integration with Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation. There are several new, related software development kits and newly exposed programming interfaces in the works for the OCS 14 release that will make it easier for developers and customers to customize and extend the presence, telephony and other built-in OCS features.
Duet: Microsoft and SAP have been collaborating since 1995 to integrate Microsoft Office with SAP's back-end business-process software. The next phase for the "Duet" project between the two is to integrate SharePoint with SAP's data and processes. The newest member of the Duet family, known as Duet Enterprise for Microsoft SharePoint and SAP, is due out in the second half of 2010. The newest Due client will build on SharePoint 2010's Business Connectivity Services. The idea is to make SAP ERP tasks, such as order entry, richer by integrating them with SharePoint workflows and other collaborative services. From my conversation with Office Senior Vice President Kurt DelBene, it sounds like there are other SAP-Office team integrations in the works. It also sounds like Microsoft is talking to other third-party app vendors about similar Duet-style partnerships, though DelBene wasn't ready to name names.