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Lesson 3An introduction to basic e-Commerce concepts
Objective An overview of standards and their role in e-Commerce

Discuss the effects of standards in e-Commerce architectures and solutions.

The importance of Standards

Standards are definitions or formats that have been approved by a recognized standards organization or are accepted as de facto[1] by an industry. Without standards, only hardware, networking, and software from the same company could be used together. Standard user interfaces also make it much easier to learn how to use new applications.
Instead these are widely used and recognized by an industry as being standard.
De facto and open standards
Often, solutions using proprietary technologies, rather than standards-based technologies, increase risk in terms of:
  1. Lifecycle costs of a solution (i.e. maintenance)
  2. The ability to hire appropriate personnel to enhance a solution
  3. The ability of the solution to evolve to retain market viability
  4. The ability of the solution to integrate with other solutions as needed
  5. Proprietary technologies: Technology solutions developed using customized standards.
  6. Standards-based technologies: Technology solutions developed using pre-existing or established standards.

Risks of Proprietary Technologies Benefits of Standards-Based Technologies
Being locked into a design that falls behind the technology mainstream Longer shelf life
Not being able to find resources who can customize a solution Wide variety of consulting and training resources.
Increased costs of application integration Rich set of supply-side products
  Typically revise in discrete, manageable steps

To oversimplify a complex problem, standards-based architectures are good while proprietary solutions are bad.
Standards may not always apply: While standards are extremely important to the computing industry, they may not always apply. Here are three examples where "standards" do not apply:
  1. A company tries to achieve a competitive advantage by being an early adopter will not find applicable standards
  2. A technology supplier tries to create a de facto standard by having their propriety product reach market leadership
  3. An old solution works so well the organization is willing to overlook the lack of standards

Impact of standards

In e-Commerce, however, architects must usually consider the impact of standards on an architecture or solution. In the case of e-Commerce, we will find many standards that apply. We will also find that deviating from standards often carries harsh consequences.

E-Commerce architects need to understand:
  1. Standards that play a role in e-Commerce solutions
  2. When to employ them
  3. When to ignore them
The Resources section of this course contains a comprehensive list of standards that you are likely to come across in e-Commerce in a printable PDF file. Within each lesson we will call out the more relevant standards for each particular technology group, and weave standards into the lesson when applicable.

[1]De facto standards: Have NOT been approved by a standards organization.