Before we leave the realm of Microsoft communication server strategies, a few words should be said related to Microsoft's .NET initiative. Microsoft's .NET initiative revolves around sharing applications and data over the Internet using XML Web services (and other Web connectivity tools and programming languages). Microsoft promises that this technology will not only connect computers to computers on the Net, but will also link smart devices such as cellular phones and PDAs to the application and data network that .NET services provide.
The real power of .NET (and other non-Microsoft strategies being pursued by developers) is that services, including applications, can be shared over the Internet using secure HTTP. This means that simple hardware devices (remember the stripped-down Web computer concept?) will be capable of accessing complex applications and databases on servers using existing Web protocols.
Microsoft has taken a broad approach as it attempts to make .NET a reality. It has provided developers with a number of tools (.NET Visual Studio, for instance) for creating XML Web services and has also developed the network operating systems that will be deployed on servers that distribute XML applications, content, and other .NETconnected applications. Server products such as Windows Server 2003 actually provide a tool for deploying XML applications on a network called the .NET Framework Configuration tool.
XML, the .NET Framework, and other strategies for data exchange on the Web constitute a huge body of information that will be necessary for managing the enterprise networks that evolve over the next few years . Two good resources that will help you begin to build your own .NET knowledge base are these books: Sams Teach Yourself .NET XML Web Services in 24 Hours and Building e-Commerce Sites with the .Net Framework . Also check out www.microsoft.com for white papers and other information related to .NET.