Microsoft .Net and XML Web services
So what exactly is .NET?
It is a means of connecting a world of information, people, systems and devices together to radically improve communication and business performance - regardless of the platform being used. It enables an unprecedented level of integration through the use of something called XML Web services (Extensible Markup Language) .
XML Web services?
This is a platform independent way of allowing applications to communicate and share data over the Internet as defined through public standards organisations such as the W3C. The Microsoft .NET platform includes a comprehensive family of products, built on XML and Internet industry standards, that provide for each aspect of developing, managing, using, and experiencing XML Web services. XML Web services will become part of the Microsoft applications, tools, and servers already in use today - and will be built into new products. There are five areas where Microsoft is building the .NET platform namely:
- User Experiences are XML Web services that allows to access information across the Internet and from standalone applications in an integrated way that saves time and money.
- Clients are any devices such as PCs, laptops, workstations, phones, handheld computers, Tablet PCs, game consoles, and other devices. .NET will make these familiar clients "smart" through their ability to access XML Web services. Smart clients use software that supports XML Web services enable access your data regardless of the location, type and number of clients used.
- Websites vs. XML Web services. Websites are about presenting information to a visitor. XML Web services, on the other hand, offer a direct means for applications to interact with other applications. Applications hosted internally, as well as on remote systems, can communicate via the Internet by using XML and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) messages.
- Servers. The .NET Enterprise Servers, including the Windows 2000 server family, make up Microsoft .NET's server infrastructure for deploying, managing, and orchestrating XML Web services. Designed with mission-critical performance in mind, they provide enterprises with the agility they need to integrate their systems, applications, and partners through XML Web services, and the flexibility to adapt to changing business requirements.
- Tools. Visual Studio.NET and the Microsoft .NET Framework supply a complete solution for developers to build, deploy, and run XML Web services. They maximise the performance, reliability, and security of XML Web services.
The .NET Framework
The .NET Framework is a high-productivity, standards-based, multi-language application execution environment that handles essential plumbing and eases deployment. It provides an application execution environment that manages memory, addresses versioning issues, and improves the reliability, scalability, and security of an application. The .NET Framework consists of several parts, including the Common Language Runtime, a rich set of class libraries for building XML Web services, and ASP.NET.
OK - but what does it mean for business?
By using the Internet to enable software applications to more easily work together, Microsoft .NET promises easier integration within and between businesses, while creating opportunities to more meaningfully connect with consumers. With .NET software and services, businesses can realise improvements in the time and cost associated with developing and maintaining their business applications, as well as benefitting from empowering employees with the ability to act on vital information anywhere, from any smart client.
Benefits of .NET and XML Web services
- Websites and XML Web services For businesses to truly harness the power of the Internet, websites must evolve. Ideally, they must be able to interact with one another as well as with existing systems and applications. XML Web services offer that opportunity.
- Global integration Taking the modular aspects of modern software applications and allowing them to communicate through standard Internet protocols (XML and SOAP), XML Web services offer a means by which business processes can interact. Applications hosted internally, as well as on remote systems, can be stitched together, allowing businesses to program the Web - quickly and economically creating specialised solutions that meet unique business needs.
- Internal integration XML Web services offer incredible value to organisations. Applications written in different programming languages and residing on differing platforms can exchange information using XML.
- Integrating with partners Not only can companies more easily integrate internal applications, they can also access services offered by other businesses. By combining XML Web services exposed on the Internet, companies can program their web site to use a wide variety of value-added applications from a wide variety of sources.
- Integrating with customers By enabling different software programs to interact, .NET creates new and exciting possibilities. A user will be able to establish an identity and move seamlessly from one .NET channel to another. They will control their data and be able to act on it anywhere, anyplace, and at anytime. They will have more power and control over their information, as they enable applications to interact on their behalf.
- Reaching out Creating XML Web services and exposing them on the Internet also provides another key advantage: it greatly expands the number of customers and business partners that can come in contact with a company's services. For example a manufacturer could expose an XML Web Service of its delivery schedules for new products. In this manner, their suppliers and distributors, amongst others, can use the information, building other information systems around it. Besides creating valuable links with partners, it creates the potential for advertising services for other businesses or customers that may not have been aware of that company or its service.
- Rapid development Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Framework empower developers to quickly and easily create cutting-edge XML Web services and applications, building on their existing skills sets. Through multi language support, developers are freed to use the appropriate language in building XML Web services. Seamless deployment, as well as the ability to use existing XML Web services, presents substantial savings opportunities for the corporate IT department.
- Empowering employees .NET offers the promise of allowing employees to act on the appropriate information where and when they need it. It facilitates better decisions by giving people in the field, at the office, and in between the information they need in a suitable and useful form. Important client information, once locked away in isolation on a mainframe, can more easily be accessed and acted on by a salesperson on a handheld computer across the country. A contact or appointment added to a Pocket PC by a project manager while at a job site can instantly be accessible to members of the same team scattered around the world.