HiT Software of San Jose, California, which has long been supplying ODBC, JDBC, OLE DB, and .NET Providers for the IBM i and other DB2 platforms, is currently beta testing a .NET Data Provider for mobile applications. The Ritmo/i Mobile provider is specifically designed for .NET applications that need to access the IBM i database from small, portable devices. In addition to being a managed provider (native .NET application), the Ritmo Mobile provider uses 256-bit encryption and digital certificate authentication. HiT has the distinction of being one of the very few companies that creates .NET providers for the IBM i (the others being IBM, of course, and Microsoft). For more information about Ritmo/i Mobile, contact HiT through their web site.
Not "Obi", but OBA, as in Office Business Application. Almost from the beginning, Microsoft Office products like Excel and Word have included programmability, using the embedded Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) language. Using VBA, you can connect to a database like the IBM i using OLE DB or ODBC providers and ADO (not ADO.NET).
Starting with Visual Studio 2005, Microsoft introduced Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO), which lets you create .NET applications that are embedded within Office products. Microsoft calls this combination Office Business Applications. The obvious advantage of OBA over the previous VBA technology is that the .NET programming capabilities are much more comprehensive than what is available with VBA.
You can develop stand-alone OBA applications, but the full power of .NET enabled Office applications becomes more evident when the applications are hosted in SharePoint Server 2007. That is where this month's book, Professional Office Business Application Development Using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and VSTO, by Steve Fox and Bill Sheldon (Wrox, ISBN 978-0-470-37731-4) comes into play. Oddly enough, for such a long title, this is actually a rather small "computer book", as computer books go, coming in at just over 300 pages (does not damage your foot when accidentally dropped).
That being said, this is a very technically rich book. My initial impression upon reading through it was, "I didn't know you could do things like this." It is worth considering that the combination of SharePoint with Word and Excel might provide your organization with a great deal of the functionality that is being clamored for in the rush to modernization. Word and Excel applications take advantage of the experience that end-users already have; SharePoint is a way to organize and present the applications in a web-enabled environment. By itself, Chapter 3 (Installing and Customizing Microsoft Office SharePoint Server) was worth the price of the book to me.
If you're developing OBAs, you will appreciate this book; if you need to know what OBA can do and what it looks like, this is the book to start with; if you're not sure about ever doing anything with OBA, this book will show you some possibilities that you may want to consider.