What happens when your ecommerce vendor washes its hands of the ecommerce platform you purchased from them?
I don’t know about you, but just thinking about the possibility makes me break out in a cold sweat.
And this is a question that many Microsoft Commerce Server customers are left wondering as the dust settles around Ascentium’s acquisition of Cactus Commerce, Microsoft’s development partner on Commerce Server for the past four years, and Microsoft’s announcement that they will not be releasing future versions of the software.
A press release on the Cactus site states:
Microsoft will continue to honor mainstream and extended support of Commerce Server 2009 through 2014 and 2019, respectively. Microsoft will not release future versions of Commerce Server, but Commerce Server 2009 R2 will continue to be part of the company’s official price list until July 2012. Both companies are working closely together to facilitate a smooth transition plan for existing and prospective customers.
The press release is supposed to make people feel better about the transition, I think, but if I were a Commerce Server customer this would have me searching for a new platform. Why?
While support will be offered on the Commerce Server product through 2019, it doesn’t stand to reason that the product will keep up with next year’s consumer demands, much less the demands of consumers seven years from now. In my opinion, when a product road map clearly indicates that the product in question is being put out to pasture, it’s time to reconsider and look for another solution.
The B2B Take Away
So, what’s the moral of the Commerce Server story for B2B organization’s looking to launch an ecommerce site or replatform a first generation site?
Ask to see your vendor’s B2B ecommerce platform road map. It should extend at least three years into the foreseeable future—quite possibly more. It should also demonstrate consistent technological growth with an eye on cutting edge B2B technology. Key functionality should be forecasted at regular intervals. If the road map doesn’t mention mobile technology on a variety of platforms, run the other way. If the ecommerce vendor doesn’t support the consumerization of B2B ecommerce, keep looking. Ask the tough questions, make sure that any B2B ecommerce platform you consider is easily keeping pace with its B2C counterparts, and make sure that your selection has experience with total business integration.