Jeff Lynch has published a great article on integrating Commerce Server 2007 with BizTalk Server 2006 using the new Orders adapter for BizTalk included with Commerce Server. Very cool technology, and a great introduction to the topic. My complain is: Why does this kind of thing get published on Technet? This should be in MSDN, by all means. Which brings me to the point of this rant:
BizTalk Server and Commerce Server are Developer Platforms.
Currently, for most purposes Microsoft treats BizTalk and Commerce Server as part of the Windows Server System family of products, and that's usually fine; after all, they are server products. However, more than simple server products you buy, plan and deploy on your organization, like, say, Exchange or ISA Server, BizTalk and Commerce begin their life cycle in organizations usually as developer platforms on top of which you develop software to be deployed later on. And this is a key part of the nature of these products. In that sense, they really aren't than different than SQL Server. So, why are they treated totally different?
The BizTalk product team (and I imagine the Commerce server one as well) recognizes clearly that BizTalk has that duality of developer platform and server product that needs to be operated and managed. The BizTalk documentation has been substantially improved on both fronts lately (for which the BizTalk documentation team deserves a huge thanks from us in the community!). But it seems to me that's as far as it goes.
The rest of the Microsoft organization completely breaks down on this front and insist on treating BizTalk (and again, Commerce) as if it was just another server product like Exchange, instead of it being a significant and important part of the Microsoft developer stack like the .NET framework and Visual Studio.
This has significant consecuenses for how the products are brought up to potential customers by Microsoft, the status they enjoy (or even if they get mentioned at all!) in conferences and other events. Take this as an example: a few weeks ago the local Developer Days event took place, with a big focus on WinFX, Office 12 and Vista. We approached some of the Microsoft people responsible for organizing the event, who mostly worked as DPEs (Developer Platform Evangelism) and asked if they were interested in having at least one BizTalk-focused presentation at the event, or, maybe do a BizTalk related event in the future.
The answer? "Oh no, we can't do that. We're with DPE and we don't handle BizTalk. You'll need to talk to the Server Platform people about that since they are the only ones that can fund it". So, you couldn't cover BizTalk, but you could cover the new Office 2007 UI and how to create cool looking charts with Excel 12? Humm... makes you wonder, doesn't it?
Now, I'll admit that this level of disconnect might just be a problem with how our local Microsoft subsidiary is organized (or rather the whole Andean region, for that matter); I do not know if it is like this in other countries. However, I find it is inconvenient and hinders the adoption of the product and prevents potential customers from getting the information they need about them and how to approach the tools.