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RealTime IT News

Microsoft Drives .NET Forward at TechEd

Seizing on the TechEd 2002 show in New Orleans as a platform, Microsoft Corp. Wednesday unveiled several key alliances in support of its .NET Web services platform, as well as several products designed to round out its offerings.

On the alliance side, Microsoft has scored victories with both global telecommunications firm Cable & Wireless and infrastructure services and software provider Akamai Technologies Inc. .

C&W plans to deploy a distributed Microsoft .NET application platform on its U.S.-based Exodus hosting network that will give customers the ability to build, deploy, manage and monitor XML Web services on the network. The solution combines .NET Server and Visual Studio .NET with hosting infrastructure and managed services from Exodus.

"By investing in XML Web services, Exodus is taking the next step in providing leading hosting infrastructure and managed services to our customers," said Bill Austin, chief executive officer of Exodus. "The .NET platform combined with the Exodus managed hosting and content delivery infrastructure will provide a foundation for the delivery of compelling Web services scenarios to drive greater efficiency, performance and overall business value for Exodus customers."

C&W hopes to use the deal to give its customers the ability to deploy Web services on the Exodus network without having to make significant application changes. The platform will also allow customers to deploy Windows 2000 servers and applications in C&W Internet Data Centers worldwide.

Meanwhile, Akamai is developing EdgeSuite for Microsoft .NET in an effort to offer its customers high-performance delivery of Web services and Web applications built on the .NET platform. The service will integrate Akamai's EdgeSuite services with .NET Server and .NET developer tools like Visual Studio .NET and ASP.NET.

"EdgeSuite for Microsoft .NET will significantly enhance an enterprise's Web services-based communications and transactions with its customers, partners and employees," said Chris Schoettle, executive vice president for Technology and Network Infrastructure at Akamai. "This represents a significant shift in how enterprises will conduct core business functions within their Web operations, such as customer service, e-commerce and inventory management."

Akamai is already piloting the service with some customers, including Web security services provider McAfee.com.

"The Akamai EdgeSuite solution for Microsoft .NET will allow us to provide a greater level of service to our customers," said Doug Cavit, chief information officer at McAfee.com. "By moving the processing of our Web services to the edge of the network, our customers have access to more available, scalable and responsive anti-virus services. In addition, this added intelligence at the edge allows us to reduce the need to build, manage, secure and overprovision multiple data centers around the world, enabling significant cost savings."

The service will be available to all .NET developers in addition to Akamai's customers.

The market reacted brightly to the alliance Wednesday, driving Akamai's share price up 43 cents (about 11 percent) to $4.20.

On the product side, Microsoft unveiled the Exchange 2000 Server XML Web Services Toolkit for .NET, and beta releases of SQL Server 2000 Notification Services and SQL Server 2000 Windows CE Edition v2.0.

The Exchange 2000 Server XML Web Services Toolkit provides tools and resources for adding contextual collaboration to .NET-based applications through Exchange 2000. Developers can use the toolkit to add calendaring and scheduling, contacts, workflow and messaging to their solutions.

Meanwhile, SQL Server 2000 Notification Services provides a programming model and scalable server engine for generating and formatting notifications based on personal subscriptions. SQL Server CE v.2.0 adds integration with the .NET Compact Framework through Smart Device Extensions for Visual Studio .NET, allowing companies to develop applications that extend enterprise data management capabilities to devices.

Finally, Microsoft also took the opportunity to unveil the first of its commercially available Web services: MapPoint .NET.

MapPoint .NET is a programmable XML-based platform for mapping and location-based services which Microsoft is aiming at ISVs, solution providers, carriers, portals and enterprises as a service that will allow them to embed maps, driving directions, distance calculations, proximity searches and other location functionality in their public Web applications, wireless solutions, business productivity applications and enterprise solutions.

"With MapPoint .NET, location becomes an ingredient of a software solution and functions within the context of whatever work people are doing to help them gain insight into business productivity and efficiency," said Michael Graff, general manager of the MapPoint business unit at Microsoft.