FAQs about Commerce Server

Licensing and Support

How are you licensing Commerce Server?

We license a single edition equivalent to Microsoft Commerce Server Enterprise Edition. The licensed software can be deployed on your own infrastructure, or on a cloud infrastructure.

For deployment yourself, licenses will be available on a per server subscription basis, with a minimum 3-year subscription term. A server is defined as a real or virtual operating system instance in which the software is installed, irrespective of processor cores or sockets for running Web sites on your server. Our Commerce Server subscription includes the current release, upgrades, patches and access to support.

Finally, customers may entering into an agreement with a commerceserver.net hosting provider who can provide a full hosted solution including Commerce Server.

What discounts will be available?

Discounts may be available for select customers based on quantity of licenses purchased. Please contact us for more details.

How can developers write code?

Provided that at least one subscription license is held and active, a license-holder will receive an organization-wide license to use the software for the purposes of developing code only. All other scenarios require a full subscription license (e.g. – content management, line-of-business interface, failover, etc.).

What aspects of my solution require a Commerce Server license?

Simply put, any computer or web site which Commerce Server is installed requires a license. There are three scenarios in which a license is not required:
1. Development - Any operating system instance where usage of the licensed program is restricted to designing, developing, or validating code and to which no actual end users are connected or (slated-for) production data is stored.
2. Cold Failover - Any operating system instance that is powered off and will only be brought online in the event of another operating system instance's complete failure.
3. Webservice based Applications - Any operating system instance where the licensed program is not installed (other than copies of files as noted in the REDIST.txt) but applications are provisioned that connect to a licensed operating system instance over supported Web service protocols.

How does licensing work in a virtual machine or multisite hosting environment?

Microsoft currently offers programs whereupon the number of physical processors in a base server can be licensed on a per processor basis, and an unlimited number of virtual machines or web applications can then be run on that base server. We will match this program by charging the standard server subscription license price on a per processor-basis for hosting virtual machines and multiple web sites.
In other words, in a virtual machine and multi-site hosting only environment – the number of license subscriptions is capped at the number of base physical hardware processors.

How do I evaluate Commerce Server?

To evaluate Commerce Server, we encourage you to make use of the Evaluation Edition hosted on Amazon Web Services which is free of charge from a licensing standpoint but requires a small payment to Amazon for the machine images.

If you wish to evaluate Commerce Server 2009 R2 or Commerce Server 10 on your own infrastructure, we can make an evaluation license available to you on request. Please contact us through the website form.

What support is available?

All subscription license holder are entitled to support user assistance, troubleshooting, and bug fixes). Dedicated support plans with enhanced SLAs up to 24x7x365 with committed incident resolution times are available. These services are provided directly by commmerceserver.net. We can also provide support for Microsoft-released versions of Commerce Server, once outside of the Microsoft support lifecycle. Please see http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/ and search for Commerce Server for details on what support is available from Microsoft.

What offers are there to transition licenses from Microsoft to commerceserver.net?

For active Software Assurance holders, Enterprise Agreement Subscription holders, or Service Provider License Agreement holders, we offer transition concessions. Please contact us for specific details through the Web site form.

What happens to Microsoft Licensing discounts when switching from Microsoft to commerceserver.net?

In general, we are able to offer comparable discounts to Microsoft based upon quantity of licenses purchased, and these will be negotiated directly with customers.

Please explain the rationale behind the new licensing model, including the switch to a single edition.

In an effort to simplify licensing and move towards utility-based pricing while setting the stage for future utility / cloud computing models, a subscription model was chosen using a per server basis. Pricing was set based upon converting the existing Microsoft License + Software Assurance prices given standard configurations of 2 sockets per server. In typical scenarios, this ensures that customers are not paying more for the same configuration than they would have with Microsoft – and in many cases will see a significant discount of leveraging multi-socket servers. Given that most customers purchased Enterprise Edition of Commerce Server from Microsoft and the fact that the limitations inherent in Standard Edition do not make sense for most customers today, a switch to a single edition was made. Our pricing has been set nominally higher than Standard Edition and at a significant discount over Enterprise Edition from Microsoft to ensure that most customers see an overall lower total cost of ownership from standard Microsoft pricing. Special accommodations have been made for common edge cases, as noted within this section.

Please explain the rationale behind the new support model.

We have attempted to mirror Microsoft’s support options for both direct Web response support and Premier support one-for-one to facilitate ease of transition from existing support models.

How often will you be shipping new versions?

Our roadmap plots a path for us to release new versions with significant new features yearly. These are our major releases. Periodically between major releases, we may release compatibility or bug fix releases at our discretion. All subscription holders are entitled to download and install any release they choose, however we will indicate which are recommended releases.

Will Commerce Server stop functioning at any point in the future?

Commerce Server will continue to function to meet customer needs as long as it continues to be provisioned according to the documented system requirements.

How does the TCO compare between Commerce Server from Microsoft and Commerce Server from commerceserver.net?

At retail list price, a typical Microsoft deal for Commerce Server was structured as follows:

  • Retail price of $20,218 per processor
  • Assumption: 2 processors in a server
  • Software assurance at $5,054.50 per year per processor
  • Total 3-year TCO for 2-processor server: $70,762.98

commmerceserver.net's version can be licensed at $12,000 per year, per server for a total 3-year TCO of $36,000, representing an almost 50% discount.

The Transition From Microsoft

Why did Ascentium/commerceserver.net take over Commerce Server?

We have been Microsoft's engineering partner for the product since the CS2007 release, so we have a high degree of experience with the product. Indeed some key architects and developers worked on earlier versions. When Microsoft were looking to transition the product to a company with deep expertise in eCommerce platforms, we were an obvious choice. Under our stewardship, we have a vibrant roadmap planned for the product and are already deeply engaged with both existing and new customers.

What is the going-forward relationship between commerceserver.net and Microsoft?

We are partnering with Microsoft to provide support through the support lifecycle for Microsoft Commerce Server 2009 and R2, as well as to evolve the product on our own with future releases beyond Microsoft Commerce Server 2009 R2. We are in the process of becoming a Gold Partner in Microsoft's brand new Application Development Tier and have very deep, collaborative relationships with the various product and business groups at Microsoft. As a long-time partner and vendor, we are committed to a strong relationship with Microsoft and providing what we aspire to be the leading eCommerce solution for the Microsoft ecosystem.

What is your market position for the product?

We see a significant opportunity to evolve Commerce Server into a leading Digital Commerce platform for the Microsoft ecosystem for both B2C and B2B scenarios, as well as fostering a robust partner community to offer specialized solutions on top of the core technology.
Long-term, our viewpoint is that eCommerce solutions will coalesce with content management, search, analytics, marketing, and customer interaction to form holistic Customer Experience Management (CXM) platforms, as defined recently by Forrester Research. We intend to partner with the rest of the Microsoft ecosystem to ensure that a holistic CXM solution of which Commerce Server plays a significant part becomes available.

What does the transition mean for customers?

Customers can expect consistent product investment as well as clear and regular communication of the product roadmap. Planned investment areas include support for Microsoft Azure as an operating environment, analytics, new business tools, personalization, mobile/social enablement, core commerce enhancements, and more. A Product Advisory Council will be formed to solicit input for future releases. The roadmap will be driven by customer feedback, and is publicly available on this website.

What does the transition mean for partners?

We are actively recruiting partners to service the growing market for eCommerce solutions. We offer reseller agreements and premium support services to help partners grow their eCommerce business.

What does the transition mean for the developer community?

We will shortly be launching a community portal on commerceserver.net to encourage dialog, feedback and suggestions on the future of the product. If you are interested in shaping this new developer community, please contact us to learn how to get involved.

Our Company

Can you explain all the company names?

Firstly, we want to assure you that you are, in fact, dealing with one company throughout all the various transitions. But let us explain the various names anyway. Firstly, you will no doubt have heard of Cactus Commerce which was the name of the original engineering company that worked as a Microsoft partner on versions of Commerce Server back to CS2007. They were also a systems integrator specializing in eCommerce solutions based on Commerce Server. In 2011 they were acquired by Ascentium Corporation, a digital marketing agency headquartered in Seattle. This combined entity was who acquired the rights to further develop and market Commerce Server from Microsoft. From that point onward, Ascentium had both the combined agency/SI and product unit. Frankly it caused confusion, so the decision was taken to completely separate and rebrand the two sides of the company. So now the agency/SI is called SMITH and we, the product unit, is now called commerceserver.net

Why did you choose commerceserver.net?

Many reasons really. Firstly we realized that there was a lot of brand equity in Commerce Server itself, it's a well known product and we wanted the continuity. Secondly, the solutions created with the product are based on Microsoft's .NET platform. And finally, we already had that registered as a domain name for content. So everything just fell into place really!