Over the last several weeks, Microsoft has made two surprising announcements that could have a significant impact on JD Edwards professionals. Because of these announcements, it won’t be long before many of us are considering new options for integrating JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and World with our Microsoft applications.

Microsoft’s first announcement hit the wires in late February when the company declared that it is dramatically expanding the ability of its products to interoperate and share data with other software. The vendor is posting around 30,000 pages of documentation on its MSDN web site that describes the APIs and protocols used to access its high-volume products. These products include Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Office 2007, SharePoint Server 2007, and Exchange Server 2007. Developers can use these APIs without license or royalty fees as long as the applications that use them are for non-commercial use.

What intrigues us about this announcement are the ways in which JD Edwards customers could use these APIs and protocols. Could it be possible, for instance, to integrate World and EnterpriseOne modules with SharePoint Server 2007 at key touch points? That could streamline collaboration with customers and suppliers within the context of our core business applications. How about similar integrations with Office 2007? Please let us know if any of you out there are exploring these kinds of options.

On a discouraging note, it looks like Microsoft is withholding documentation on all but the current releases of its products. That leaves the products that most of us use — Windows XP, Office 2003, SQL Server 2005, and so forth — out in the cold. That said, look for Microsoft to use this announcement as one more reason to get customers to upgrade.

New Integration Challenges

Earlier this week, Microsoft surprised the market a second time when it announced the latest additions to its Online Services family of products. In the announcement, Microsoft did the expected thing by unveiling hosted versions of Exchange Server 2007 and SharePoint Server 2007 that it intends to ship during the second half of this year. However, it threw everyone for a loop when it revealed that it will offer Online Services to all companies rather than just those with 5,000 or more users. That reversed a statement the software giant made last year in which it gave its partners sole responsibility for Online Services sales to companies with fewer than 5,000 seats.

By appealing directly to small and medium-size companies, Microsoft will make it easier for JD Edwards customers to try and buy its Online Services. Indeed, the software giant is already offering limited beta trials of Exchange Online and SharePoint Online at http://www.mosbeta.com. We expect that trial deployments of these and other Online Services will start appearing soon at many sites. As a result, JD Edwards professionals will increasingly be asked to evaluate these services and consider how to integrate them with EnterpriseOne and World. That will raise a host of new business and technical considerations for many of you.

In short, Microsoft’s latest announcements present both opportunities and challenges for those of us who must integrate business processes across back office and front office applications. If you are considering those opportunities and challenges and have any questions or perspectives to share, feel free to submit them in the reply box below.