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Accenture hosts .Net development

The consulting giant will unveil its Web Service Platform that's designed to accelerate the process of building customized business applications using Microsoft's .Net software.

Accenture has developed a hosted service it hopes will give new meaning to rapid application development.

The consulting giant next week will make available its Web Service Platform, which has been in pilot testing since last year. The service is designed to accelerate the building of customized business applications using .Net, Microsoft's name for software used to build and deploy Web services. Web services is a programming method that relies on XML-based standards to share data and processes between applications.

Accenture's service assembles popular .Net-oriented programming tools and provides a single location to store code during a development project. Customers access the service through a portal, where different team members can log in and use the appropriate tools. For example, a developer can access Microsoft's Visual Studio.Net, while a project manager could see a different view. The bundled products also include source code and configuration management tools from software provider Merant.

"When we started looking internally at tools needed for Web services, we saw that our traditional development and design tools didn't accommodate the nuances of Web services," said Michael Condon, a partner in Accenture's communications practice. "That's when we decided to leverage best-in-breed products."

The service includes a library of prewritten code that can be reused or customized for a specific purpose. A directory based on the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) standard allows a programmer to point to a Web service that runs on another machine as part of a larger application.

Accenture is offering the bundle as a hosted service, or the company will install the software onsite at a customer's facility. A hosted service allows companies to avoid lengthy product procurement and setup, Condon said. A centralized service also simplifies the complexity of managing offshore development, he added.

Accenture plans to build a version of its Web Services Platform for programming tools based on Java 2 Enterprise Edition within one year.

Accenture will offer its Web Services Platform as part of its Microsoft-oriented consulting and development services. The service was created by Microsoft-Accenture joint venture Avanade.