Servers.NET - a Dummy's Guide to Microsoft's New Vision

.NET – a Dummy’s Guide to Microsoft’s New Vision

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by John Loomes


What IS .NET??

In September 2000
Microsoft announced its new vision – .NET

” The .NET Enterprise
Servers are the fastest way to integrate, manage, and Web-enable the
enterprise.” Microsoft

But, I hear you ask,
what IS .NET??

Having been asked this question
by several people I decided to write this article, which is by no
means an in-depth techincal appraisal of .NET, it’s a overview, a
‘bluffers guide’, something you can use to impress people at parties
(well perhaps not), but if youve heard of .NET, but never understood
what it means, then hopefully this will gop some way to helping you
out, and may inspire you to find out more……


Lets face it, Microsoft’s
‘mission’ is to have all IT everywhere running on its products. Not
just PC’s and Servers, but mobile devices, PDA’s, digital TV,
fridges..the whole shebang…Now in order to acheive this goal they
have to make integration an interoperation between all these
different devices (and any new ones that crop up) absolutely
seamless, and they have to write software that will look and feel
the same no matter what you access this from, be it a PC via an
application, via a browser over the web via a mobile phone etc
etc… In addition, all these applications and services need to work
together, using common data structures and document formats. Well
this is essentially what .NET is all about. Using the Internet as
the primary communications medium and Windows 2000 (and its
followers) as the platform it all runs on.

.NET consists of the following
composite parts:

  • Windows 2000

  • XML

  • .NET Enterprise Server

  • A set of API’s (application
    programming interfaces)


The .NET Product line is all
based around XML or Extensible Markup Language – HTML’s big brother
– which is used as a standard, platform independant mechansim for
exchanging information over the Internet. XML, as its name suggests,
is Extensible, which means its scope can be extended, which in
theory means that functionality isnt limited and it can grow as time
goes on. The .NET Product line uses XML as a communications

.NET Enterprise

At the heart of .NET is a set of
Server products which are all XML enabled and are designed for use
over the internet via any device. The current product set is as
follows: (links take you to Microsofts page for each

Application Center 2000

Aimed at the Application Service
Provider (ASP) market, manages Web based applications
BizTalk Server 2000

Manages Business to Business
(B2b) ecommerce transactions using XML. Bascially a way of
translating information between companies using different systems over the
Commerce Server 2000

This is like Internet
Information Server – with knobs on! Includes many ecommerce
Exchange 2000

The latest version of an old
favourite, includes support for mobile devices and colaboration
Microsoft Host
Integration Server 2000

Used to be called SNA
Server – provides connectivity to legacy mainframes
Internet Security and Acceleration Server

Microsoft Firewall and Web security product
Microsoft Mobile Information 2001 Server
A product for sharing information across mobile devices
Microsoft SQL Server

The latest version of SQL includes enhanced Web support

Visual Studio .NET

Visual Studio .NET is the development platform designed to
allow you to design solutions based around the above server products
listed above, think of Visual Studio 6 with XML built in and more
Web based features….


So there you have it! Its more of the same really, with increased
emphasis on the internet as a business communications medium and the
use of mobile devices accessing applications and data remotely.
Microsoft appear to be targeting 2 main markets here:

Internet Service Providers (ISP’s)/Application
Service Providers (ASP’s)
– these businesses are set to
grow and grow and Microsoft wants it all to run on their

Large Enterprises – Large Comporations will
make increasing use of the internet, and the traditional ‘PC on a
desk in an office’, is set to become a thing of the past (sure…)
as workers access applications remotely via wrist watches! (or

Seriously though, people are starting to question how and where we work, and
increased use of mobile devices is happening NOW. Again Microsoft
want to be the main players here….

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