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Lesson 5 An introduction to basic e-Commerce concepts
Objective Reliability - A consideration for each tool category

Describe how Reliability affects ecommerce Solutions

In virtually every considerations section we will find a few repeating themes. These themes reflect the philosophy of the "abilities" of solutions architectures, specifically:
  1. Reliability
  2. Scalability
  3. Maintainability
  4. Extendibility
  5. Vendor Viability
  6. Interoperability
In the past, an organization's solutions only needed to satisfy employees.
In e-Commerce, the solution must satisfy employees, customers, and suppliers. The bar has just risen.
So, what general considerations should an architect keep in mind? The same considerations as before, but with unwavering attention. We will spend the next few lessons looking at the four "abilities" and see how they are impacted by e-Commerce.

System Reliability and Security

To provide services online, CPA firms must have systems with high reliability and security. System reliability is about a system's availability [1] and its integrity. A reliable system can operate without material error, fault or failure during a specified time in a specified environment.
System security is the ability to protect information resources from unauthorized access, modification, and destruction. Information resources in an Internet/e-business environment are hardware, software, and telecommunications. For CPA firms, online security is vital not only because it is required to protect the information assets, but also because of the long-term trusted relationship with clients. From a client viewpoint, security is the perceived guarantee that no unauthorized parties will have access to communications between the client and the CPA firm. The focus of online security is threefold: authentication, confidentiality, and integrity.
Authentication is the ability of the system to verify that users are who they claim they are. Confidentiality refers to limiting data access or use to authorized individuals only. Online systems must be able to authenticate the identities of those who attempt to log on, allowing only legitimate users to access the information or database. Integrity refers to maintaining data accuracy and preventing hardware failure and unauthorized tampering. Current encryption technology (128-bit Data Encryption Standard) with public–private key usage and a good public key infrastructure (PKI) can accomplish these three goals. To have a good PKI, a firm needs to form consistent agreement between the practices of a certificate authority (CA) and the firm’s certificate policies because the CA manages the firm’s public keys.
In addition, properly trained IT professionals can play a key role to make an information system reliable and secure. It is also important that the top management of a firm maintain a well-established system development life cycle policy to assure the reliability and security of its information systems.

Breakthrough Technology

Reliability ensures that:

  1. A solution is available (availability)
  2. A solution performs in a fashion acceptable to the users (performance).
In short, reliability means that the solution is there, and that it works as advertised. Many of us have experienced the outage of a LAN or an email system, and seen how disruptive that can be. Now imagine that you are a dot.com company, and nearly all of your revenue comes from Web-based buying.
Your entire company's existence hangs on the reliability of your e-Commerce applications.
In the past, many architects might try to save a little money here or there in a solution by willingly introducing risk in terms of reliability. This will not work in e-Commerce. Reliability requirements typically drive systems and network management designs for e-Commerce solutions, along with networking, OS, and hardware choices.

[1]availability: This means the system is available for operations and can be updated and maintained in a manner that continues to provide system availability.