Being a Microsoft Commerce Server MVP, when I got the news that Microsoft was transferring development of Commerce Server to a partner, Ascentium, I was at first a little disappointed. I have been working with Commerce Server for a few years, and have really grown to like the product and its extensibility. So being that I am not a man of many words, lets sum this up into a simple advantage/disadvantage list.
- Subscription based licensing (Not a big deal for most companies, but for capital based accounting, not so good)
- Won’t be covered by Microsoft’s 10 year support lifecycle
- You’ll have to keep your platform a little more current (I know a lot of sites still using Commerce Server 2000)
- Substantial decrease in cost
- More aggressive release cycle (I would expect every 6 months or so)
- Not bound by Microsoft’s development policies
- We should start seeing integrated components like PayPal, Amazon, etc..
- Faster releases
- Better testability with releases
- Improved delivery format
- More personal experience for partners and developers
- When dealing with the non-Giant firms, your relationship is more personal and valuable
- Ascentium has committed to delivering the product and has a great road map
This is only speculative but here’s my take. I imagine several higher ups in Microsoft sat in a room and realized simply that there weren’t many new Commerce Server customers, why?, because the product was becoming dated. So, what to do, this is what I would have done… (And what I believe they did…) Well, we can transfer the development of Commerce Server to a partner, for all the reasons above, and keep a good enterprise e-commerce platform that runs on the Microsoft Stack, and we’ll still get the licensing revenue for Windows Server, SQL Server, BizTalk, and possibly SharePoint. All is all, a good decision on the part of Microsoft, whether it went down this way or not.
So in summary, while there are few disadvantages, I feel the advantages far outnumber the negative. One key thing that was never listed on either side was customer perception. This could swing either way, many customer are comfortable with the Microsoft product lifecycle and even depend on it. Other customers however, feel that Microsoft wasn’t allowing them to be competitive, falling behind the competition. Being that Commerce Server is still being developed by the same “people” as it was before, the product will be the same strength.