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Designing Development Support Infrastructures (Part 3 of 5): Using Active Directory to Support Internal Development

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IT infrastructure architects Nelson Ruest and Danielle Ruest discuss the requirements for special development support infrastructures using Microsoft Windows technologies. This article is the third part of a five-part series. It identifies how to design virtual security environments with Active Directory.
Nelson Ruest and Danielle Ruest are the authors of Preparing for .NET Enterprise Technologies: A Practical Guide for People, PCs, and Processes Interacting in a .NET World (Addison-Wesley, 2001, ISBN 0-201-73487-7).
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In terms of development, mainframe computers have long been seen as being more versatile than Windows systems. One great advantage of mainframes is that you can create separate operating environments within the same computer. Organizations using mainframes often have a production environment along with training and development environments. Each environment is completely segregated from the others. Each operates independently. If one fails, it doesn't bring down the house; it's simply restarted while everyone else goes about their business.

But Windows brings additional support to the developer. A developer using Windows to access a mainframe can open several 3270 sessions, each within its own environment. Using Windows task-switching capabilities, the developer can then simply move from one mainframe session to another, even using Window's cut-and-paste features to link the environments to some degree.

Are mainframes more powerful than Windows to support development? Today, the answer is no, not now that Windows 2000 and Active Directory are available. It's true that with Windows NT, segregating environments while linking them together was complex. Who hasn't had nightmares trying to understand the Windows NT trust system? Well, Windows 2000 is not Windows NT.

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