ADO.NET stands for ActiveX Data Objects for .NET. It refers to the suite of data access technologies used to manipulate databases. ADO.NET is part of the .NET Framework..
ADO.NET provides access to datasources starting from SQL Server / Oracle to XML based data. Developers using ADO.Net framework can write powerful, efficient, yet datasource agnostic code without a lot of effort.
One of the key innovations implemented in the ADO.Net framework is that the data access routines are kept separate from the manner in which the in memory data is represented and concieved. This concept is popularly known as the "Disconnected Data". ADO.Net also provides pwoerful features to interact with XML datasources.
Some of the key features in ADO.Net can be categorized as follows
(a) Traditional approach to access / update data through execution of commands. This concept was inherited from the ADO, the COM based data access framework.
(b) DataSet and Data Adapters: The concept of accessing data and then manipulating it in memory without the need of a connection to the datasource. DataSet is concieved as an in memory database as it is designed to use and manipulate relational data.
(c) Data Reader: This option is used to perform a fast, lightweight and forward only read of data from the underlying datasource.
(d) Retrieve Scalars: This is a quick option to execute a query or a stored procedure that returns a single value to the caller.
The ADO.NET classes are found in System.Data.dll, and are integrated with the XML classes found in System.Xml.dll.