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Building Network Applications with Net2000

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Novell Consulting Services, Europe

01 Jan 1996

Net2000 is the architecture, interface, and infrastructure for the Smart Global Network. The Net2000 architecture is the context for all services, technologies, and infrastructure within Novell. Net2000 consists of both procedural and object based interfaces which expose these services to developers, making it easier to build distributed applications. The transport independent infrastructure has a common IPC model for both client and servers. Net2000 will lower the cost and complexity of building network applications across client/server platforms because of the availability it brings to these services. This DevNote explains how Net2000 will open new markets for developers and allow developers to build a variety of networked applications.

Previous DevNotes in This Series Nov 95 Net2000 Will Provide Integrated Interface to Network Services


In the fall of 1995, Novell announced an initiative to establish an open set of application programming interfaces (APIs) that will allow software developers to easily incorporate NetWare networking services into distributed applications. This initiative, code-named Net2000, will result in applications that leverage Novell's strategy for enabling a smart global network-one that will provide information and resources to users anytime from anyplace.

The Net2000 initiative symbolizes Novell's renewed effort to provide greater return on investment for developers by reducing the complexity associated with developing distributed applications. By making it easier to build network-aware applications, Net2000 will significantly grow the market for those products and services. Through the initiative, independent software vendors (ISVs) will gain entr e into two massive markets: Novell's present 50 million NetWare users and a future global network base of hundreds of millions of users.

The Novell Net2000 initiative benefits both developers and end users. With Net2000, developers can easily build all types of client and server applications using a universal set of APIs to tightly integrate network applications with distributed services across multiple platforms.

The APIs also extend access to NetWare services to heterogeneous environments, enabling network administrators to have a single global view of their network and services, including third-party solutions.

Network users will also benefit from the initiative, gaining access to network and enterprise services through applications regardless of resource location or underlying network infrastructure. The initiative will effectively lower development barriers to building and implementing true distributed network applications.

New Markets for Developers

Net2000 will open new markets for developers. Key initiatives include the following:

  • NetWare Connect Services (NCS)

  • Nested NetWare (NEST)

  • NetWare Services on Application Servers

NetWare Connect Services (NCS)

NCS is collaboration of technology and communications companies providing carrier-grade internetworking and multimedia applications for business communications. NCS enables users on virtually any platform to freely access information and services. AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, NTT, Telstra and Unisource each intend to offer their own network service to business customers.

These communications companies will work together to interconnect their networks under the umbrella of NCS, allowing customers to easily access users and information located on any of the affiliate networks.

NCS is the business Internet of the future, leveraging the installed base of NetWare as well as the World Wide Web and the Internet.

Novell has partnered with telecommunications companies to add value to the Internet. NetWare services forming the foundation of NCS will provide security and management for global networking. NCS will create virtual corporations and enable electronic commerce between individuals and businesses.

Novell Embedded Systems Technology (NEST)

Today there are all kinds of intelligent devices scattered throughout offices that perform singular functions well-printers, fax machines, scanners, copiers, and so on. For the sake of increased productivity, it makes perfect sense to make these devices work together. NEST will do that. With NEST, Novell is extending the reach of NetWare technology and leveraging its networking expertise. Novell is also working with numerous cable and utilities vendors to take networking to homes.

NetWare Services on Application Servers

Novell is committed to make NetWare services such as NetWare Directory Services (NDS) available on multiple platforms and operating systems. Currently, Novell is partnering with Hewlett Packard and SCO to put NDS on those platforms. This will enable applications written to Net2000 and NetWare services to run on a variety of platforms and increase the number of markets where they could be sold.

Building Network Applications

The ultimate value of Net2000 is the creation of new applications that access the vast amount of services and information in the network-without bringing the complexity of the network to users. Net2000 will let users define what they want from a network, providing a new level of convenience.

Net2000 applications will empower users to accomplish such tasks as the following:

  • Access, publish, and consume information and services freely

  • Collaborate and interact over large distances, connect to other people, and create virtual communities

  • Advertise, buy, and sell goods and services using personal computers

  • Automate homes through networked devices

Network services will serve as the foundation on which to build smart network applications. Net2000 applications will use network services to work intelligently for the user and hide the complexity of the underlying infrastructure. With Net2000 applications, developers write to the network instead of a specific platform. Following are some examples of what smart Net2000 applications will do.

Smart Installations. Net2000 applications automatically register themselves in NDS. Administrators then assign specific users rights to these applications, which automatically appear as icons on those users' desktops.

Seamless Access. Information and relationships can be easily represented in NDS. Users can query for services, applications and information from anywhere, anytime. Access to information is not tied to a particular location or network topology. The scope of access is broad enough to include files and printers, as well as databases, compound documents, software components, World Wide Web pages, and so on. Once the user finds the component he or she needs, the component is bound to the application or service that can utilize it. The relationship between services, applications and data can be easily stored in NDS.

Transparent Communications. The user of a smart application should not need any prior knowledge of the underlying networking infrastructure. The type of network protocol, Remote Procedure Calls, and access methods are completely hidden from the user. The knowledge of how to communicate with a service can be stored in NDS.

Smart Data Exchange. Users should be able to access and store any type of information. With object services, applications will support common data formats across the network and provide the ability to move any kind of information, including compound documents, voice, full motion video, and relational data.

Intelligent Security. Smart network applications are inherently secure and allow for a variety of security paradigms. These applications use NDS to identify users, and they have the ability to make network communications private through NetWare Security Services. They also provide single login through NetWare Security Services, even if the applications are running on heterogeneous platforms.

Convenient Management. System administrators see a consistent view of the network even if the applications are running on heterogeneous platforms. ManageWise allows administrators to perform management tasks and configure applications remotely.

Intelligent Licensing and Metering. Smart applications can be licensed in a variety of ways including nodal, per connection, or based on usage. This gives both the developer and users of network applications the option of selecting the best payment policy based on their business requirements. Novell's NetWare Licensing Services provides this capability today.

Platform Independence. Smart network applications can be developed on a variety of platforms and not restrict the user or the developer in choosing the best platform for their needs. Network services such as directory and security are available on multiple platforms.

Network Services

Net2000 is the vehicle through which developers can become partners in Novell's vision of smart global networks. Net2000 consists of:

  • Application programming interfaces (APIs) and components to access network services

  • Tools and a software developers' kit (SDK) to build Net2000 applications

  • Partner programs to sell Net2000 applications to users today and to the emerging global network market in the future

Net2000 will meet this promise to developers by focusing on these key objectives:

  • Consolidate and enhance Novell's strengths in the networking market and its network services

  • Enable developers to easily build network applications to Novell's network services

  • Expand the market for network applications by creating new opportunities

  • Enhance user applications by bringing the power of networking to the individual

Novell's vision of delivering a smart global network rests on the creation of intelligent network services. During the past five years, Novell has developed a set of key services that will deliver this vision. Using Novell's network services, developers can create smart network applications without worrying about the intricacies of the networking infrastructure. Novell will focus on the network, allowing developers to focus on their core competencies. Novell is the leader in network services and Net2000 offers compelling access to these key network services, described below.

NetWare Directory Services (NDS)

Network services such as directory services are critical to establish a common context and relationship between people, resources, devices and information across the network. Directories act as the starting point for finding and advertising information in a global network. With the successful introduction of NetWare 4, Novell is also the leader of the most widely deployed directory services.

NetWare Security Services

The success of any organization depends on its ability to securely send documents and perform financial transactions, as well as ensure the integrity of its data and information. Security services must be pervasive across the network to enable applications running on the network to communicate with each other in confidence and privacy. NetWare Security Services has several key features for building global information networks.

These include a unique security foundation (Trusted Network Infrastructure) to enable secure network computing, open architecture to allow third parties to add value, network-wide authentication between NetWare servers and other application servers, and the flexibility to support third-party authentication and public key services. Security is an absolute requirement for conducting business in the globally connected world.

NetWare Licensing Services

Licensing and metering services will greatly enhance an administrator's ability to deploy applications across the network. NetWare Licensing Services allows users to set up a variety of policies for applications. New licensing services leverage NetWare Directory Services, enhancing software management, distribution, and usage across a network. Licensing will also provide the foundation for generating revenue from Internet services and component software.

ManageWise and NetWare Administration Services

The primary purpose of management services is to make the access of services and information easier. Management services control and administer the various relationships and access between users, resources, and data. Licensing, single login, global event services and global consoles are required to give a consistent view of a heterogeneous network. ManageWise and NetWare administration services are the leading industry services to manage diverse computing platforms. The goal is to give the administrator a single and consistent view of the entire network, even if it consists of many diverse platforms.

NetWare Advanced File Services (NAFS)

Storage services are needed to provide non-stop data access to millions of users. Traditional file services must change to include all types of data including sound and images. High availability and continuous data access even while the network is down are necessary services. Novell's NAFS is currently the most pervasive file service available. Novell will soon release an advanced version of NAFS that will include an object store, replicated data and the ability to store terabytes of data.

NetWare Storage Management Services (SMS)

Complementing storage services is SMS, which provides management for storage devices and protects data from loss and damage. As distributed services and network applications become more prevalent, SMS will evolve to manage and protect data for the entire network. SMS will provide services to application developers to back up and recover vital information on users' applications and services in the global network.

NetWare Distributed Print Services (NDPS)

Print services continues to be a vital service for many businesses. Novell has partnered with Hewlett Packard and Xerox to create the market's only distributed print services. NDPS is tightly integrated with NDS and leverages the network to create a convenient and highly manageable printing solution. NDPS users can remotely load the correct print drivers and interact with NDPS-aware printers to modify and query the status of their print jobs. NDPS not only provides network services but is designed as a general-purpose platform to network any intelligent device, such as fax machines and copiers.

GroupWise XTD

Messaging services is undergoing a paradigm shift and evolving into collaborative and workflow automation services. Simple E-mail platforms such as NetWare Message Handling Service (MHS) are simply not enough to meet the demands of global networking. Novell's GroupWise XTD will lead the market in defining and delivering key collaborative services such as messaging, group scheduling, telephony, and fax and document management services, all integrated into one package. These services offer developers the opportunity to create value-added workgroup and workflow automation applications. GroupWise will replace MHS as the messaging service for NetWare 4.1.

NetWare Transaction Services (TUXEDO)

Transaction services are necessary for mission-critical client-server applications. TUXEDO transaction services provides the developer with a robust and proven set of tools and services to create three-tier business applications. In the future, transaction services coupled with security will provide the necessary foundation for electronic commerce on the Internet.

Future Advanced Services

Novell will continue to produce advanced network services such as object services, network application management services, web services, and electronic commerce services. Through Net2000, Novell is committed to providing a rich set of interfaces that provide easy and integrated access to all network services.

The Value of Net2000

In the early 1980s, the key enabling graphical user interface (GUI) technologies were available in commercial systems in niche markets and expensive hardware. It was not until 1984 that Apple defined the necessary GUI application development paradigms that application developers required: scroll bars, icons, menu bar, and so on.

The state of the art in network programming is at the same stage today as GUI programming was 10 years ago. Network programmers are mainly system programmers programming for niche or corporate markets. For example, today's network programming is centered around developing database access applications or, more recently, publishing HTML pages.

Network programming must evolve from its current realm of systems programming to applications programming. Current network programming paradigms are inadequate. What is needed is a set of simple networking paradigms that appeal to and are required by hundreds of thousands of applications programmers. Net2000 will establish the necessary guidelines and paradigms to build smart network applications. Problems apparent in current client-server programming paradigms include the following:

  • The application developer and user have to know too much about the networking infrastructure, making it very difficult to create and use network applications.

  • The lack of consistent network services such as security, directory, licensing, object services, and others. Global computing will be impossible without these services.

  • The lack of consistent management paradigms across heterogeneous platforms. Management and access to services and applications is very platform- or application-specific. This reduces the availability of information, and makes services and applications difficult to manage.

  • The lack of a proper licensing and metering infrastructure for selling components over the network.

Net2000 will establish a distributed computing architecture that will provide the following capabilities:

  • Access to services and applications regardless of physical location, network protocol, or platform

  • Accommodation of business logic running in many different locations on many different machines simultaneously

  • A pervasive security model that can be uniformly applied to all network services, resources, and devices

  • A management model that allows system administrators to have a consistent view of a heterogeneous network and provides an infrastructure to manage all objects from any location

  • A consistent, open programming interface on heterogeneous servers and clients

While Net2000 will provide a compelling architecture for building network applications, the architecture is not enough to make network programming any easier. Network programming is arduous. Network programming will remain the realm of system programmers unless the barriers to network programming are significantly reduced.

Net2000 will turn system programming into application programming. Net2000 will significantly lower the barriers to network programming and make the developer more productive by:

  • Allowing developers to use existing tools on the platform of their choice

  • Hiding the complexity of the network by providing easy-to-understand network metaphors

  • Providing heterogeneous platform support

  • Supporting multiple paradigms including Internet, Object-based, Visual and Procedural

  • Providing an enhanced SDK and developer program

Support for Existing Tools

Net2000 will support many existing tools such as Visual C++, Borland C++, Visual Basic, Delphi and PowerBuilder to let developers choose the best tool for creating network applications. These tools will be supported on all of the platforms on which they are available. Net2000 will also support a variety of programming languages such as C, C++, MFC, OWL, OLE/COM, and CORBA.

Creating Simple Networking Metaphors

Net2000 interfaces are designed for consistency and ease-of-use, allowing the developer to learn one set of APIs for quick access to multiple network services across various platforms. Net2000 will offer a set of network service interfaces to build truly distributed applications. Developers program to Net2000 network services and not to a specific platform. These services interfaces will expose the core services of naming (NDS), security, management and communications, as well as extended services such as NetWare Advanced File Services (NAFS) and NetWare Distributed Print Services (NDPS).

Heterogeneous Platforms

In a recently announced strategy, Novell launched plans for providing access to its services from all major application server platforms. With Net2000, developers can either choose to write their applications for the NetWare Loadable Module (NLM) platform or choose from Windows NT, HP-UX and SCO Unix application servers. Access to other platforms such as IBM AIX and SUN Solaris will also follow. Heterogeneity and pervasive access to NetWare services is a fundamental Net2000 strategy. Net2000 will also support the Windows 95, Windows 3.1, Macintosh, and OS/2 desktop environments.

Enhanced SDK and Developer Programs

Novell has completely reorganized its SDK and developer programs to truly support and facilitate the creation of network applications. The Net2000 SDK is more intuitive to use and employs the latest browsing and querying facilities to provide developers with the right information and APIs. Novell's DeveloperNet offers technical support, training and marketing support.

* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


The origin of this information may be internal or external to Novell. While Novell makes all reasonable efforts to verify this information, Novell does not make explicit or implied claims to its validity.

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