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Lesson 5 Future-proofing
Objective Identify the technology and market forces that may impact viability.

Future-proofing Your ebusiness

The world of eBusiness is fundamentally evolving because of the ongoing emergence of new technology. Consequently, there is dynamic change in the array of technologies available, the features of that technology, and the cost of those technologies. There are a number of factors you should consider when identifying the technology and market forces that will impact viability.

Market and technology forces

Every eBusiness architect will need to do a certain amount of "future-proofing" to ensure the durability of the eBusiness design. The following sections outline the market- and technology-driven forces you must consider.

Market-driven

There are certain market-driven forces that influence the viability of an eBusiness solution. These include the ever-expanding array of solutions, compatibility issues, and financial considerations.

Market-driven forcesDescription
Array of solutionsWith a bewildering range of technology solutions on the market, anticipate and plan for new technologies and developments that willappear to make obsolete all new solutions.
Compatibility issuesDue to issues of compatibility with existing in-house legacy systems, you may need to decide whether to build a completely newtechnology solution that either accommodates or is built around existing legacy systems.
Financial considerationsChoices will often be determined by financial constraints. Compare short-term objectives with quick wins and longer-term strategies.

Technologies providing services

Common examples of competition between technologies for the provision of services often relate to the core computer operating systems and the most appropriate computer hardware Core computer operating systems include Unix, NT, and Macintosh. Appropriate computer hardware might include mainframe, mini, PC. At the user end, the proliferation of technology is even more dynamic for both the B2B and particularly the B2C sectors. In B2B, for example, major decisions often evolve around the issues listed below:
  1. Control
  2. Support
  3. Security and costs (cost per seat/per user is a common deciding factor, particularly with areas such customer service centers and call centers)

Technologies serving users

The architectural issues and considerations for technologies (applications) servicing users for both B2B and B2C are described in the table below.
Architectural issues and Considerations for Technologies servicing users
B2B Dumb: network terminals where all data and intelligence is hosted and controlled at the main data center versus
Client server: architecture, where information and intelligence is distributed to intelligent terminals such as PCs
B2C Network performance (speed of data transmission)
Quantity of simultaneous user sessions
Multiplicity of user access devices such as PCs (with their ever-improving cost to performance issues)
Emergence of Interactive Digital Television
Accelerating mobile communications market for Internet access (for example, WAP mobile phones) with terms such as mCommerce (Mobile Commerce)
In addition to the technologies applied to provide the services and the technologies applied by the users of the system, telecommunication networks also factor heavily into identifying the issues most likely to influence the viability of an eBusiness solution.

Tele-communication networks

Telecommunication networks also impact heavily on the decision-making process. Conventional telephone networks have become insufficient to transfer rich data at an acceptable speed. This rich data comprises a wide variety of textual, audio/voice, and still and moving image data. Telecommunication technologies and terminologies such as PSTN, ISDN, ADSL, copper wire versus fiber optic (with associated Rainbow spectrum multi-channel capability), in addition to fixed landline cabling versus terrestrial and satellite wireless broadcasting and narrowcasting are terms the architect should be familiar with. All of these overlapping, evolving elements are important parts of the decision equation.
  1. Rich data: A simultaneous combination of different data types (e.g. combination of textual and/or audio/and/or image and/or video data).
  2. Telecommunication technologies: Telecommunications involves any type of electronic data communications. The technologies that support this include telephone, television, satellite, fiber optics etc.
  3. Public Switched Telephone Network: Refers to the international phone system based on copper wires carrying analog voice data. This is in contrast to newer telephone networks based on digital technologies, including ISDN.
  4. ISDN: Integrated services digital network) An international communications standard for sending voice, video and data over digital phone lines or normal phone wires. ISDN supports data transfer rates of 64 Kbps (64000 bits per second). Most ISND lines offer. Most ISDN services include two lines at once. When both are used, the data rate of 128 Kbps is three times the data rate provided by today's fastest modem. The latest version of ISDN, B-ISDN supports transmission rates of 1.5 Mbps and requires fiber optic cablesBottom of Form 1 .
  5. ADSL: (Asymmetric digital subscriber line) Technology that allows more data to be sent over existing copper phone lines. ADSL supports data transfer rates of 1.5 to 9Mbps when receiving data (downstream rate) and from 16 to 640 Kbps when sending data (upstream rate).
  6. Fiber optic: A technology used for transmitting data by light. A fiber optic cable consists of thin strands of glass or plastic along which the light can travel.
  7. Wireless broadcasting: Broadcasting that uses high-frequency radio waves rather than wires.
  8. Narrowcasting: To send data to a specific list of recipients as opposed to broadcast which sends data to anyone and everyone.

Considering eBusiness viability

In the midst of this extremely confusing array of jargon, how should the eBusiness architect make a decision about eBusiness viability? Unfortunately, there is no single, correct answer, and no "best defense" in making these kinds of decisions. The architect's role and challenge is to:
  1. Use all resources to become--and remain--aware of all developments
  2. Evaluate all developments
In some cases, evaluating solutions means deciding on their practical value.
As always, your evaluation must consider the objectives defined for the eBusiness solution and how the solution chosen will need to take into account the inevitable, constant change in developing technologies.
Question: What are the three market-driven forces that influence the viability of an eBusiness solution?
Answer: 1) Array of solutions, 2) Compatibility issues, 3) Financial considerations
In the next lesson, we will discuss the challenges and issues you should address when you use a top-down strategy to incorporate an eBusiness.