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How .NET Affects the IT Professional

The .NET strategy can affect IT professionals in several ways. For our discussion, let's first consider how .NET might affect developers and then assess its impact on systems administrators and other IT professionals.

Developers feel a profound impact from the .NET initiative. To understand this impact, first consider a brief explanation of how application development has changed. Previously, developers built applications on local system services. A particular application was built to run on the services provided by a particular operating system. In this system, developers could specifically control how the application functioned on that platform. Applications were platform specific and did not communicate with each other well. The second wave of change occurred as developers moved to a different scale, called n-tier. This enabled developers to create applications that functioned on a network scale. In other words, development occurred away from local system services to global network services. This development created the ability to develop business software that was intrinsically more focused on business, which created higher productivity.

We are now at the next wave of change through XML and SOAP, the Web Service. The Web Service, or programmable Web, enables applications to interact on the Internet and provide services to users or other applications. This is a fundamental shift from the way applications have been described in the past when we thought of applications as a product: You purchased the CD-ROM and installed the product on a computer. A Web Service completes some kind of transaction or transfer. Built on XML, these Web Services can be used by any single person using any single device at any given time. This feature enables any number of application-specific processes to occur seamlessly on the Internet, without intervention from the user, as shown in Figure 1–1.

Figure 1-1Figure 1–1 Web Services provide a new look at web applications.

The Web Service process is accomplished by using both loose and tightly "coupled" programming features. The effective business process of n-tier computing (tightly coupled) is combined with the loosely coupled messaging standards and data access methods of the Internet. Because the .NET initiative is founded on the base of XML and the idea of Web Service, developers have a new way to create applications that function and integrate more easily. The challenge to developers is to integrate those concepts on which the .NET platform is built.

For other IT professionals, the .NET initiative will not radically change the world of IT server management. IT professionals should see a general relief in administration because of the distributed computing model .NET brings to the table, but management of the .NET Enterprise servers and workstations will function in much the same way.

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