Posted by Chris Maunder
Tuesday, January 2, 2001 7:00pm
Application Development for the 21st Century
During the past few months we’ve seen attempts by the major platform vendors to begin to articulate their vision for the next era of computing:
- Information anywhere, anytime, on any device (Bill Gates has been talking about this for a couple of years)
- Applications developed using components and "services" residing on networked computers around the world
- Applications seamlessly sharing data
- Dynamic directories and marketplaces for services and components using technologies like Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI)
The quest to build a unified networked application architecture is driven by several converging trends and enabling technologies:
- Adoption of TCP/IP-based network standards
- Emerging standards for wireless connectivity
- Ubiquity of Internet-connected computers
- Increasing bandwidth
- Emergence of Internet-hosted application platforms
- Shift in development focus from the client to middle-ware and backend servers
- Increasing focus on software as the most important
aspect of e-commerce
- The need for these software systems to communicate
and share data
- Desire to reduce redundant development through
feature or component/service sharing and re-use
- Renewed focus on component development – and
expansion of the paradigm to include "services"
- Move towards open standards and open technologies
- Availability of inexpensive Open Source alternatives (Linux, Perl, Apache)
- Availability of investment capital to fund Internet-related ventures
In this article, I’ll take a look at some of the implications of Microsoft’s .NET, examining the business strategy and vision and the implications to marketers of application development tools.
Platform Suppliers Woo Developers
For the past 10 years Microsoft has fueled the growth of a robust market for third-party applications software. But in the past two years many third-party developers have begun to question if the Internet has so fundamentally altered the influence of Microsoft that supporting Windows is no longer a key business success factor.
Meanwhile, Sun, Oracle, IBM, HP, and others have begun actively courting developers to support their software platforms and technologies. In fact, programmers are now among the most sought-after technology decision makers.
Despite the competitive threats from new technologies and emboldened competitors, Microsoft continues to enjoy a large installed base of technologies and support from application developers.
Among the major platform suppliers, Microsoft is arguably the only one whose strategy over the past few years has placed application developers at the center of the universe – recognizing the importance of developer support.
IBM, HP, and Sun continue to pursue application developer support for their software platforms as a means of creating demand for hardware and service offerings – placing developers two degrees of separation from the core product and service offerings driving their businesses. On the other hand, Microsoft’s business interests continue to be much more closely aligned with the primary interest of commercial application developers: commercial opportunities supporting Microsoft’s software platforms.
Microsoft’s latest technology and marketing initiative, .NET, is currently long on vision but short on business strategy. While the details will be flushed out over time, and the vision will evolve into a business strategy developers can support, time is money. The longer the opportunities take to emerge, the more economically attractive other platforms become. Let’s take a look at the state of .NET, and make some assumptions about where it’s going.
Key Elements of .Net