Evolution of Business Practices using technology

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I witnessed a presentation given by a Microsoft engineer on the effects of increasing expectations on Information Infrastructure. The presentation was very insightful and further gives focus to what Microsoft is doing in its mission to connect the information worker. If you think about it there are basically 6 issues that face organizations today in the area of information technology management. These challenges can be found in almost any organization regardless of the vertical industry they are located in. These technology issues include:

  • Securing and Scaling an ever increasing amount of content.
  • Universal system access across a wide band of technology platforms.
  • Interoperability of platforms across a range of technology.
  • Users expect connected communication and collaboration between their peers.
  • Personalized data access no matter what the method of access whether its mobile or the user is in their office environment.
  • Integrated workflow and process management.

Now there may be unique needs in each vertical market, but mostly all information technology systems. Users are increasingly demanding access to this type of information and as IT managers and leaders it is our job to provide these resources. The problem comes in with effectively making all these disparate systems share information in an easy way. The preferred method is using XML technologies since XML is about data and the source of that data is not important as long as you can accurately describe the data.

Most users have problems learning many different user interfaces and ever interface the user uses reduces their productivity. This could be referred to as user pain. Its painful for users to have to switch between these various systems. In order to gain the most ROI on our technology investments we need to provide methods for users to do their work in a variety of systems and pull and push data to these systems. The method for doing this is XML and web services. There are many companies that are doing just this. They connect to Oracle Databases, PeopleSoft, or SAP backends all from the same interface. They companies that have created these types of interfaces receive much better ROI on their technology systems and as a result gain a more competitive advantage over their competitors.

I would suggest that companies who do not start to think in terms of trying to pull these systems together to allow better collaboration between the employees of their companies will have a difficult time competing in the coming years. This is one of the reasons you should be implementing systems that conform to standards for XML and web services. If the systems you are purchasing follow standards then you will have a easier time of integrating it with other systems when the time comes. In fact since the goal is to integrate systems should be your goal you should think in terms of how a particular system will interact in regards to the other systems you already have an investment at the onslaught of the purchasing process. This should not just be considered for shrink wrapped applications but also systems that you develop your self or have custom programmed for your business. These are some of the items you need to consider as you prepare your business for the evolution of business using technology.

Microsoft Removes Restrictions on Visual Studio Express Products

Microsoft has announced that they will now removed the restrictions on the Visual Studio Express Products. Originally they planned to only let you use the Visual Studio Express line until the end of 2006 when you would need to purchase a license for $49 to continue to use these products for your development purposes. That restriction is no longer there. This is actually pretty cool and I personally think a good move on Microsoft’s part. The Visual Web Developer is the only one of these products I have personally used and it is actually fairly powerful. Most developers of Asp.Net Web Applications can do the majority of tasks they need to perform with this product. While Enterprise level developers will still likely require one of the other versions of Visual Studio.Net most hobby type and novice programmers will be able to utilize one of these free versions for their tasks. You can also use these tools to do some fairly extensive programming tasks and thus make it possible for companies to save money on integrated development software costs.

This will mean more programmers will possibly give the .Net language a chance when other wise they may not, read hard core Java Types. This may be MS’s idea on offering the VS Express line for free and allow it to stay free forever. After all Ms still makes money on the platform every time someone creates an innovative .Net application and putting the tools in the hands of the people who can dream up these innovations.

You can find a link to the story on the front of the asp.net web site.

MSBuild Extras Toolkit for Asp.Net 1.1

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve recently found myself switching back and forth between Visual Studio 2003 and Visual Studio 2005 since I’m working on applications written in both Asp.Net 2.0 and Asp.Net 1.1. Most of the applications I’m working with right now are written in Asp.Net 1.1 and I’m not ready to update those components yet. In fact I’m not sure if I will ever update some of these as the are coming to the end of their life anyway. I will still need to support these apps and perform maintenance on the code even if I never add another feature.

I would prefer to just start working totally with VS2005 since it does have quite a few enhancements to the workflow that VS2003 does not contain. Well this has not really been possible until now. Enter MSBuild Toolkit for Asp.Net 1.1. I have not tried the component yet but their is a project over at GotDotNet workspaces that claims to allow you to build Asp.Net 1.1 projects using VS2005. I’m not sure how well it works yet, but I will be trying it soon. According to the project page: Since the release of MSBuild in .NET Framework 2.0, a very frequent customer request has been to provide a means for MSBuild to build .NET 1.1 applications. This demand stems from users who want to use Visual Studio 2005 and .NET 2.0 but need to continue servicing customers who use .NET 1.1.

MSBuild Extras – Toolkit for .NET 1.1 “MSBee” is an addition to MSBuild that allows developers to build managed applications in Visual Studio 2005 that target .NET 1.1. MSBee is a member of Power Toys for Visual Studio, developed by the Developer Solutions Team. Since it is built by the Microsoft Development Team, I’m sure it works as advertised so this may prove a good method for helping me to simply my development life a little. Look for the MSBee project at GotDotNet for more information.

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