.NET gets legacy legs

The advent of .NET Web services may press Microsoft users to look for a way to focus more attention on the entire enterprise. As a result, means of hooking up legacy mainframe apps with Windows-related apps will be reviewed anew.

Microsoft has presented varied means for mainframe connection over the years, but there is still room for other parties to enhance such efforts. In a move to level the playing field with other enterprise players, such as IBM and Sun, Microsoft is aligning itself with companies whose core competency is bringing legacy applications into new systems.

One such company is NetManage Inc., Cupertino, Calif., which has been providing host access for 13 years. The latest version of NetManage's OnWeb Host Integration Server runs on Microsoft Windows Server 2003, and allows transactions and business processes from host systems to be exposed as Web services to .NET Framework-based applications. OnWeb's host-integration tools are also being integrated with Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003.

The biggest advantage of this integration, according to Vijay Lal, director of product marketing for OnWeb, is the availability of Microsoft's 6 million Visual Studio .NET developers to go to the mainframe and bring data into the development environment of their choice.

"Until now, there has been a brick wall between host applications and the Microsoft development environment," Lal said. "We are breaking down that wall so that a host application can be integrated just as easily as any other application that a developer is working with."

The integration lets developers choose which development environment they want to use, and it also allows them to use any type of application within the .NET Framework. By eliminating the process of re-coding host application functionality, application development time is reduced, which decreases time to deployment.

NetManage officials said the .NET Framework can provide customers with a viable alternative to Sun's J2EE Framework. "The performance in applications in .NET is two times the performance they get out of J2EE applications," Lal claimed. Moreover, Lal believes the learning curve is shorter for developing with .NET than for developing with J2EE.

About the Author

Lana Gates is a freelance writer based in Mesa, Arizona. She can be reached via e-mail at


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