I've been in the application-development business for a long time. Seven years ago, I had my trusty AS/400 "toolbox" containing the tried-and-true tools for developing any type of business application. All I needed was RPG, CL, DB/400, and a few display files, and I was off and running. Then we moved to a LAN environment and were faced with new challenges. So we learned NetWare, FoxPro, Visual Basic, and Microsoft Office. We gave up some scalability to build flexible, good-looking applications. But what if I want flexibility, a GUI, and scalability?
Let's face it client/server is the technology for mid- to high-level application development It promises flexibility and scalability. Many of you already have several client/server applications in production. The question isn't whether to do client/server but how to do it
The first thing you'll need to get is a bigger toolbox. We can't rely on one language or methodology to get the job done anymore. Ifs going to take a lot of pieces to make it happen. On the positive side, the hardware and software available on Windows NT to develop client/server applications are impressive. Today, almost all development languages and database servers run natively on NT. But what's really compelling is the next wave of application-development tools. Open your toolbox and throw in telephony (TAPI), messaging (NIAPD, speech (SAPD, cryptography (CAPI), security, object-oriented programming, Web development OLE, wireless computing, distributed objects, scaleable hardware, multimedia, and more. All this technology will be available-in some cases exclusively-on Windows NT.
One of the benefits of working for a magazine is that we get to review all the new software tools available for NT Our MIS department is right next to the Windows NT Magazine Lab, and the MIS staff is always inventing excuses to check out the new stuff we've received. Currently, we're working together on a Web-based NT Products & Services Directory. We're using a new Web development tool, Cold Fusion, to dynamically build the directory from data stored in Microsoft SQL Server on an NEC MIPS server. You can check out our progress on our Web site at http://www.winntmag.com.
Our lab has also spoiled us with the hardware "tools" available for Windows NT. Several years ago, we had to add more NetWare servers to "scale" our applications. Now we're running multi-CPU Pentium, Alpha, MIPS, and PowerPC machines that can scale beyond most minicomputers today. Instead of bumping up against the edge of performance, we can plan our growth based on existing server technology. Currently, we're working with four-CPU servers. But vendors, such as Tricord and Intergraph, have announced six- to eight-CPU P6 systems, and AT&T has announced that its WorldMark systems will support Windows NT with up to 16 CPUs!
It's exciting to be involved with an operating-system platform that both works today and doesn't lock you out of future tools and technology.