Careers: Interviews
Interview with Michael Flynn

This week Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P., had the opportunity to interview the Internet guru, Michael Flynn. Michael's current responsibilities include media interviews, educational and promotional initiatives for Microsoft employees, customers, and partners on .NET, Developer Tools, Commerce Server, BizTalk Server, ISA Server.

According to Michael, "My background is 16.5 years in IT. Started building clone PC’s, moved to field service, moved to large scale IT management, moved into software development, moved to computer sales, finally onto marketing. Companies I have worked for include Computer Junction, Office Equipment of Canada, Nestle Enterprises, Compaq Computer, and Microsoft. I have developed commercial software for Windows CE (Pocket Administrator) and have developed over 20 different software products for various industries include broadcast media."

Q: Can you describe your current and future role?
A: Currently I manage a number of products in a marketing role. Primary responsibility is to develop strategies for promoting / fostering excitement in Microsoft products and technologies. If I had my choice of jobs, I would like to design new products that leverage web services.

Q: Can you describe XML Web Services?
A: Web services, based on XML will greatly simplify application integration across the Internet. A great example of this is to consider using your accounting software vs. a browser to connect to a business partner to purchase product for resale. Using the accounting software, you could type in the distributor’s web site URL, your accounting software would then connect to a web service to order products, the advantage is to have the inventory, accounting, and pipeline databases within your accounting software updated automatically at the time of the order. If you use a browser to place the order, you would have to manually enter the order details into your accounting package.
Over time, any software package could be used to connect to a web site (web service) for information exchange. The big part of this is that with XML/SOAP you will be using industry standard based messaging protocols to develop these new connections.

Q: What are the capabilities of the new SOAP Toolkit and why would developers be interested?
A: The new version, SOAP Toolkit 2.0 provides full support for SOAP v1.1, the Web Services Description Language (WSDL). With the Toolkit, developers can build high performance, commercial quality XML Web Services or add such capabilities to any existing application that supports the Component Object Model (COM). In addition to new samples and debugging tools, this release also is fully interoperable with XML Web Services built using the .NET Framework and has been tested with SOAP implementations from a variety of other vendors.

Although you can expose Web Services using any programming language, object model, or operating system, Windows, COM, and our tools make it a snap. The SOAP Toolkit automates all the key parts of creating a Web Service.

Interoperability with Visual Studio.NET Beta 1. You can now use the SOAP Toolkit to call a Web Service created by a Visual Studio.NET Beta 1 application. You can also write a Visual Studio.NET Beta 1 application to call a Web Service created by the SOAP Toolkit.

Source code cleanup and optimization, and better performance. Our stress-test results showed a performance increase of about three times faster.

Memory leaks and bug fixes. All known memory leaks and many bug fixes are included in this release.

Improved error handling. We are now handling errors properly, and returning meaningful error messages.

A new Visual Studio.NET ROPEDEMO sample. This is an exciting addition to the SOAP Toolkit. Please see the documentation included with the toolkit for more details about this release.

Q: How is Native SOAP Support for Windows XP provided?
A: In addition to the standalone Toolkit, Windows XP will have native support for SOAP, simplifying the efforts of developers building XML Web Services on Windows XP, and ensuring customers will easily be able to utilize such services. Just as Windows 2000 was the first operating system with native XML support, Windows XP is expected to be the first in the industry with native SOAP support.

Q: Can you describe the W3C Acceptance of New Security Specification? Can you detail the XML key management specification (XKMS) digital certificate specification by the World Wide Web Consortium?
A: The W3C recently acknowledged the submission of the XML key management specification (XKMS) which was jointly authored by Microsoft, VeriSign and webMethods with submission support from Baltimore Technologies, Citigroup, Entrust Technologies, Hewlett-Packard Company, International Business Machines Corp., IONA, PureEdge Solutions, Reuters Limited, RSA Security and Science Applications International Corporation. The XKMS specification helps enterprises and developers use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) digital signatures and encryption with XML Web Services.

Q: Can you provide a road map for future XML Web Services?
A: Primary developers and consumers of web services will be corporate IT. Many customers are already developing web services to simplify the connectivity of disparate islands of information regardless of the platform they exist on. Web services from MS will include authentication, notification, and access to data.

Q: What ten tips and recommendations would you give to those entering the IT field and for seasoned veterans?
A: 1 - Understand the different platforms available, what are the pro’s, con’s
2 - Understand current industry trends, i..e. Web Services – XML/SOAP
3 - Understand the new developer tools, why and how they do most of the coding
4 - Understand advantages of different approaches to information access
5 - Understand how the many different devices i.e. PocketPC, play a role in IT
6 - Make education your everyday priority, every 24 hours the world turns, and with it so does your choices with OS platforms, developer tools, protocols, etc…
7 – If you are developing software, spend 90% of your development cycle in design, if you have done your job right, you only need 10% of the development cycle to complete the actual coding
8 – Don’t be afraid of change, change is good, looking back at the time of structured coding to object coding, it was hard to make the move, but making the move was one of the best decisions I had ever made. The investment in time to learn this new approach to development paid off on the very first job.
9 – If you are managing a development project be sure to leverage a good project management application. Tracking progress, setting goals and milestones is imperative to good project management.
10 – Documentation is another imperative to strong IT and project management. Assume the people you work with on a project will be replaced in 12 to 18 months. This is the nature of the business, so good documentation is critical to project and long term management success.

Q: Consider this a blank slate. Are there additional comments you want to make?
A: Web services represent one of the most important changes in application design, development, deployment, and management. This is clearly one of the biggest paradigm shifts since the advent of the GUI. Those who understand this change and those who leverage this new approach will be the most successful in the future.


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