REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 3, 2000 — When Arch Communications Group, one of the largest paging and wireless messaging providers in the United States, wanted to present account and billing information to its customers via the Internet, Microsoft was there to help. Using the Microsoft Windows DNA 2000 technology platform, Arch programmers developed Web-based applications that have enabled external resellers to immediately access the most current account and product information so they can serve customers more quickly and efficiently.
“Microsoft technology has made it possible for us to take our existing business process and directly empower our customers with it,” said Wendell Pinegar, Manager of Client/Server Programming at Arch Communications Group.
“This has not only saved us administrative costs; it has given customers a much higher degree of satisfaction.”
As the Internet continues to provide new products and services that affect virtually every aspect of daily life, a number of innovative Microsoft technologies will contribute to more advanced Web services that communicate with each other and work directly on the user’s behalf.
The introduction of Microsoft’s Windows DNA 2000, Windows 2000 and other products will help developers adjust to the fundamental transformation that is taking place throughout the industry concerning how people build and use Web sites. This new programming architecture builds on existing technologies and tools to transform common business processes into reusable, universally programmable Web services.
Microsoft’s vision for Web services is based on the idea that developers can build applications that operate across all systems regardless of the underlying platform or object model.
“In today’s world of e-commerce, businesses can’t build new solutions fast enough to meet the increasing demands of their customers at the same time that they maintain required levels of operational efficiency and stability,”
said Chris Olson, group product manager for the Microsoft Applications Server Technology Group.
What typically happens is that decisions are driven by demand rather than design, Olson said. When this occurs, businesses create a short-term fix that can cripple their long-term vision.
“What the Microsoft DNA platform provides is a standards-based approach for developers to build new flexible business applications that can leverage and consolidate information on the latest systems,”
The key ingredient for Microsoft’s vision of integrated, programmable Web services is XML or “eXtensible Markup Language,” an interactive Web language developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). XML is ideal for electronic commerce because it makes it easy to standardize information across the Internet.
The XML standard defines a way to represent data without tying it to a specific business process, Olson said.
“By doing so, two or more entities can freely exchange information without requiring specific knowledge of the processes that each applies to that data. This type of ‘friction free’ exchange is what will make the transformation of business processes to software services a feature rather than a monumental undertaking.”
Through the exchange of XML messages, Web services can easily describe their capabilities and allow any other Web service, application or device on the Internet to invoke those capabilities. As a result, XML makes it possible for Web site users to share more in-depth and complex information than they can today using HTML.
“By promoting XML, we are removing the barriers to cross-business development and facilitating e-commerce for the masses.”
“Implementing XML and the associated standards around XML through the Windows DNA platform enables businesses to build Web services that they can open up to anybody.”
The overall goal is to help make the Web more than a collection of static documents, and to create a platform that stitches together new services flexible enough for the ever-changing business models of Web-based businesses.
To help accelerate the adoption of XML, Microsoft has launched the BizTalk initiative. The BizTalk initiative centers around the adoption of the BizTalk Framework, a set of “best practice” design guidelines for developing XML-based representations of business data or schema in a consistent way. The BizTalk Framework resulted from input collected from members of the BizTalk Framework Steering Committee, a group of leading e-commerce software providers, standards bodies and corporations.
“By combining Microsoft’s leadership in driving technology standards forward with the steering committee members’ business knowledge assets, BizTalk provides a solid roadmap for building the Business Internet,”
Another key component of the BizTalk initiative is the Microsoft-sponsored BizTalk.org Web site, a collaborative workplace for the development, collection and free distribution of XML schema.
“Many customers are already benefiting from the efforts underlying the more than 350 schema that have been submitted,”
Two upcoming Microsoft product offerings that will help customers implement their BizTalk-enabled processes are the Microsoft BizTalk Server and the Microsoft Host Integration Server, code named Babylon. Microsoft’s BizTalk Server will provide the appropriate reliable routing and schema transformation interfaces between business processes while the Host Integration Server will help developers integrate legacy systems.
“Both of these Windows DNA products will provide critical infrastructure for instantly transforming new and existing business processes into Web services,”
Integration and interoperability among applications, data, transactions and platforms is critical for today’s customers, Olson said. With more companies buying computer systems rather than building them from the ground up, competitive advantage is based on how well the systems work together. By taking advantage of its existing knowledge base, infrastructure and resources, a company can quickly adapt to changing business needs, get its products and services out the door faster and find new ways of providing business value to new and existing customers.