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ECT 250: Survey of e-commerce technology E-commerce hardware and software Web servers The components of a web server are: Hardware Software When determining what sort of server hardware and software to use you have to consider: Size of the site Purpose of the site

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ect 250 survey of e commerce technology

ECT 250: Survey of e-commerce technology

E-commerce hardware and software

web servers
Web servers
  • The components of a web server are:
    • Hardware
    • Software
  • When determining what sort of server hardware
    • and software to use you have to consider:
    • Size of the site
    • Purpose of the site
    • Traffic on the site
  • A small, noncommercial Web site will require
    • less resources than a large, commercial site.
the role of a web server
The role of a web server
  • Facilitates business
    • Business to business transactions
    • Business to customer transactions
  • Hosts company applications
  • Part of the communications infrastructure
  • Poor decisions about web server platforms can
  • have a negative impact on a company. This is
  • particularly true for purely online (“click and
  • mortar”) companies.
hosting considerations
Hosting considerations
  • Will the site be hosted in-house or by a provider?
  • Factors to consider:
  • The bandwidth and availability needed for the
    • expected size, traffic, and sales of the site
  • Scalability: If the Web site needs to grow or has
    • a sudden increase in traffic, can the provider
    • still handle it?
  • Personnel requirements or restraints
  • Budget and cost effectiveness of the solution
  • Target audience: Business-to-customer (B2C) or
    • business-to-business (B2B)
types of web sites
Types of Web sites
  • Development sites: A test site; low-cost
  • Intranets: Available internally only
  • B2B and B2C commerce sites
  • Content delivery site
  • Each type of site has a different purpose,
  • requires different hardware and software,
  • and incurs varying costs.
commerce sites
Commerce sites
  • Commerce sites must be available 24 hours a day,
  • 7 days a week. Requirements include:
  • Reliable servers
  • Backup servers for high availablity
  • Efficient and easily upgraded software
  • Security software
  • Database connectivity
  • B2B sites also require certificate servers to issue
  • and analyze electronic authentication information.
content delivery site
Content delivery site
  • Examples:
    • USA Today
    • New York Times
    • ZDNet
  • Sell and deliver content: news, summaries,
    • histories, other digital information.
  • Hardware requirements are similar to the
    • commerce sites.
  • Database access must be efficient.
what is web hosting
What is Web hosting?
  • Web hosts are Internet service providers who also
  • allow access to:
  • E-commerce software
  • Storage space
  • E-commerce expertise
  • You can choose:
  • Managed hosting: the service provider manages
    • the operation and oversight of all servers
  • Unmanaged hosting: the customer must maintain
    • and oversee all servers
  • Cost effective for small companies or those without
    • in-house technical staff.
  • May require less investment in hardware/software.
  • Can eliminate the need to hire and oversee technical
    • personnel.
  • Make sure that the site is scalable.
  • If you need help in choosing a Web host, contact
    • the Web Host Guild. Formed in 1998, it is a sort
    • of Better Business Bureau of the Internet.
services provided
Services provided
  • Access to hardware, software, personnel
  • Domain name, IP address
  • Disk storage
  • Template pages to use for designing the site
  • E-mail service
  • Use of FTP to upload and download information
  • Shopping cart software
  • Multimedia extensions (sound, animation, movies)
  • Secure credit card processing
  • ISPs have Web hosting expertise that small or
    • medium-sized companies may not.
  • Creating and maintaining a Web site using an
    • existing network can be difficult.
  • With the exception of large companies with large
    • Web sites and in-house computer experts, it is
    • almost always cheaper to use outside Web
    • hosting services.
  • EZ Webhost
  • Interland
  • HostPro
  • HostIndex
    • Managed hosting
    • Other hosting options
b2c e commerce
B2C e-commerce
  • Requirements:
    • A catalog display
    • Shopping cart capabilities
    • Transaction processing
    • Tools to populate the store catalog and to
      • facilitate storefront display choices
  • Any e-commerce software must be integrated
  • with existing systems:
    • Database
    • Transaction processing software
catalog display
Catalog display
  • Small storefront (fewer than 35 items)
    • Simple listing of products
    • No particular organization
    • Example: Quebec maple syrup
  • Larger catalog
    • Store product information in database
    • More sophisticated navigation aids
    • Better product organization
    • Search engine
    • Example: LL Bean
shopping carts
Shopping carts
  • Early e-commerce shopping used forms-based
    • check out methods. Required writing down
    • product codes, unit prices, etc.
  • A shopping cart:
    • Keeps track of items selected
    • Allows you to view the items in a cart
    • Allows you to change quantities of items
  • Because the Web is stateless, information must
    • be stored for retrieval. One way to do this is
    • to use cookies, bits of information stored on
    • the client’s computer.
transaction processing
Transaction processing
  • Usually performed with a secure connection.
  • May require the calculation of:
    • Sales tax
    • Shipping costs
    • Volume discounts
    • Tax-free sales
    • Special promotions
    • Time sensitive offers
  • Details about transactions must be tracked for
    • accounting, sales reports.
b2b e commerce
B2B e-commerce
  • Business-to-business e-commerce requires tools and
  • capabilities different from those required for business-
  • to-customer systems.
  • Encryption
  • Authentication
  • Digital signatures
  • Signed receipt notices
  • The ability to connect to existing legacy systems,
    • including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
    • software. ERP integrates all facets of a business
    • including planning, sales, and marketing.
levels of packages
Levels of packages
  • Three levels of e-commerce packages:
  • Basic: Requires a few hundred dollars in fees
    • and less than an hour to set up. Typically
    • hosted by an ISP.
  • Middle-tier: Ranges in price from $1K to $5K+,
    • and can take from one day to several days to
    • set up. Can connect with a database server.
    • Requires hardware purchase and some skills.
  • Enterprise-class: For large companies with high
    • traffic and transaction volumes. Hardware and
    • in-house specialists needed.
basic packages
Basic packages
  • Basic packages are free or low-cost e-commerce
  • software supplied by a Web host for building sites
  • to be placed on the Web host’s system.
      • Fundamental services
      • Banner advertising exchanges
      • Full-service mall-style hosting
fundamental services
Fundamental services
  • Available for businesses selling less than 50 items with
  • a low rate of transactions.
  • These services offer:
    • Space for the store
    • Forms-based shopping
  • The Web host makes money from advertising banners
    • placed on the site. Each business has some control
    • over which banners are placed on its site.
  • Examples:, HyperMart
  • Drawbacks: E-mail transaction processing, banners.
banner exchange sites
Banner exchange sites
  • Banner exchange sites aid online store promotion.
  • Banner exchange agreements are made between
    • sites that sign up for the service.
  • The BES organizes the exchanges, enforces banner
    • exchange rules, collects statistics about customers,
    • and rotates ads on the sites.
  • A click through count is the number of visitors that
    • a banner produces at a site.
  • Examples: Banner Exchange, Exchange-it,
          • SmartClicks
full service mall style hosting
Full-service mall-style hosting
  • Full-service hosting sites provide:
    • High-quality tools
    • Storefront templates
    • An easy-to-use interface
    • Quick Web page creation and maintenance
    • No required banner advertising
  • In exchange these sites may charge:
    • One-time set up fees
    • Monthly fees
    • A percentage of each transaction
    • A fixed amount per each transaction
differences from basic services
Differences from basic services
  • Shopping cart software
  • Comprehensive customer transaction processing
    • Choice of purchase options (credit card,
      • electronic cash or other forms)
    • Acceptance and authorization of credit cards
  • No required (and distracting) Web banner ads
  • Higher quality Web store building/maintenance
    • tools (saving time and energy)
  • Examples: Yahoo!Store,
midrange packages
Midrange packages
  • Distinction from basic e-commerce packages:
  • The merchant has explicit control over
    • Merchandising choices
    • Site layout
    • Internal architecture
    • Remote and local management options
  • Other differences include price, capability,
    • database connectivity, software portability,
    • software customization tools, computer
    • expertise required of the merchant.
  • Prices range from $2000 to $9000.
  • Hosted on the merchant’s server.
  • Typically has connectivity with complex database
    • systems and stores catalog information.
  • Several provide connections (“hooks”) into existing
    • inventory and ERP systems.
  • Highly customizable
  • Requires part-time or full-time programming talent.
  • Examples: INTERSHOP efinity, WebSphere Commerce
    • Suite
enterprise solutions
Enterprise solutions
  • Distinguishing features:
  • Price ($25,000 - $1 million)
  • Extensive support for B2B e-commerce
  • Interacts with a variety of back office systems,
    • such as database, accounting, and ERP.
  • Requires one or more dedicated computers, a
    • Web front-end, firewall(s), a DNS server, an
    • SMTP system, an HTTP server, an FTP server,
    • and a database server.
  • Good tools for linking supply and purchasing.
  • Can interact with the inventory system to make
    • the proper adjustments to stock, issue purchase
    • orders, and generate accounting entries.
  • Example: Wal-Mart
    • Allows several suppliers to make decisions
      • about resupplying
    • Results in cost savings in inventory
  • Examples: WebSphere Commerce Suite, Netscape
    • CommerceXpert
web platform choices
Web platform choices
  • Hardware, operating system, and application server
    • software must be considered together since each
    • affects the other.
  • Whatever your choice you must ensure that the
    • server hardware is scalable, meaning that it can be
    • upgraded or a new server added as necessary.
  • Other needs, such as a database server, should be
    • handled by separate hardware. Database products
    • have large processing needs.
factors in performance
Factors in performance
  • Hardware and operating system choice
  • Speed of connection to the Internet
  • User capacity
    • Throughput: The number of HTTP requests
      • that can be processed in a given time period.
    • Response time: The amount of time a server
      • requires to process one request.
  • The mix and type of Web pages
    • Static pages
    • Dynamic pages: Shaped in response to users.
  • Benchmarking is testing used to compare the
    • performance of hardware and software.
  • Results measure the performance of aspects such
    • as the OS, software, network speed, CPU speed.
  • There are several Web benchmarking programs.
    • For examples see Figure 3-4 on page 87.
  • Anyone considering buying a server for a heavy
    • traffic situation or wanting to make changes to
    • an existing system should consider benchmarks.
web server features
Web server features
  • Web server features range from basic to extensive
    • depending on the software package being used.
  • Web server features fall into groups based on their
    • purpose:
    • Core capabilities
    • Site management
    • Application construction
    • Dynamic content
    • Electronic commerce
core capabilities
Core capabilities
  • Process and respond to Web client requests
    • Static pages, dynamic pages, domain name
    • translation.
  • Security
    • Name/passwords, processing certificates and
    • public/private key pairs.
  • FTP, Gopher
  • Searching, indexing
  • Data analysis
    • Who, what, when, how long? May involve the
    • use of Web log analysis software.
site management
Site management
  • Features found in site management tools:
  • Link checking
  • Script checking
  • HTML validation
  • Web server log file analysis
  • Remote server administration
application construction
Application construction
  • Uses Web editors and extensions to produce Web
    • pages, both static and dynamic.
  • Like HTML editors, application editors allow the
    • creation dynamic features without knowledge of
    • CGI (Common Gateway Interface) or API
    • (Application Program Interface) programming.
  • Also detects HTML code that differs from the
    • standard or is browser specific.
dynamic content
Dynamic content
  • Non-static information constructed in response to
    • to a Web client’s request.
  • Assembled from backend databases and internal
    • data on the Web site, a successful dynamic page
    • is tailored to the query that generated it.
  • Active Server Pages (ASP) is a server-side scripting
    • mechanism to build dynamic sites and Web
    • applications. It uses a variety of languages such
    • as VBScript, Jscript, and Perl.
    • More information? Take ECT 353!
electronic commerce
Electronic commerce
  • An Web server handles Web pages whereas an
    • e-commerce server deals with the buying and
    • selling of goods and services.
  • A Web server should handle e-commerce software
    • since this simplifies adding e-commerce features
    • to existing sites.
  • Features: Creation of graphics, product information,
    • addition of new products, shopping carts, credit
    • card processing, sales report generation, Web ad
    • rotation and weighting.
web server software
Web server software
  • There is no best package for all cases.
  • The market is divided into intranet servers and
    • public Web servers.
  • Three of the most popular Web server programs:
    • Apache HTTP Server
    • Microsoft Internet Information Server
    • Netscape Enterprise Server
  • See Figure 3-8 for the market share graph.
    • A more recent market share analysis.
apache http server
Apache HTTP Server
  • Developed by Rob McCool while at UI in the
    • NCSA in 1994.
  • The software is available free of charge and is
    • quite efficient.
  • Can be used for intranets and public Web sites.
  • Originally written for Unix, it is now available
    • for many operating systems.
  • For a discussion of its features see the Apache
    • Software Foundation page.
microsoft iis
Microsoft IIS
  • Microsoft’s Internet Information Server comes
    • bundled with Microsoft’s Windows NT/2000.
  • Can be used for intranets and public Web sites.
  • It is suitable for everything from small sites to
    • large enterprise-class sites with high volumes.
  • Currently only runs on Windows NT/2000.
  • See Microsoft’s Web Services page.
netscape enterprise server
Netscape Enterprise Server
  • Costs several thousand dollars and has a 60-day
    • trial period.
  • Can be run on the Internet, intranets and extranets.
  • Some of the busiest sites on the Internet use NES
    • including E*Trade, Excite, and Lycos.
  • Runs on many different operating systems.
  • See Netscape Server Products.
further information
Further information
  • What Web software is running on a site?
  • Web server side-by-side comparisons
web server tools
Web server tools
  • Other Web server tools include:
    • Web portals
    • Search engines
    • Push technologies
    • Intelligent agents
web portals
Web portals
  • Provides a “cyber door” on the Web
  • Serves as a customizable home base
  • Successful portals include:
    • Excite
    • Yahoo!
    • My Netscape
    • Microsoft Passport
push technologies
Push technologies
  • An automated delivery of specific and current
    • information from a Web server to the user’s
    • hard drive
  • May be used to provide information on:
    • Health benefit updates
    • Employee awards
    • Changes in corporate policies
intelligent agents
Intelligent agents
  • A program that performs functions such as
    • information gathering, information filtering,
    • or mediation on behalf of a person or entity
  • Examples:
    • AuctionBot
    • BargainFinder
    • MySimon
    • Kasbah
example uses
Example uses
  • Example uses for intelligent agents:
  • Search for the best price and characteristics
    • of various products
  • Procurement: Deciding what, when, and how
    • much to purchase
  • Stock alert: Monitors stock and notifies when
    • certain conditions are met, e.g. purchase 100
    • shares if the price is below $60 a share.