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Lesson 3Hardware considerations
ObjectiveDescribe the considerations important for purchasing hardware.

Hardware Purchase

The number of variables effecting hardware design and choice for eBusiness solutions can be overwhelming.
Indeed, because it's impossible to know how successful an eBusiness solution might be, or how it might evolve, hardware design is really more of an art than a science.
There are several considerations regarding hardware design and choice, however, which apply to practically every eBusiness initiative. The table below has a list of the questions you should consider before adopting any hardware. In the column to the right of the question, you will find an explanation for why these questions are so important:

Hardware Considerations

Question to consider Explanation
Do you have control over the client community for an eBusiness solution? If developing a B2C solution, you will have virtually no control over client hardware; your end-user is anyone on the Internet. ForB2B solutions and intranet applications you may have some influence over client hardware, especially if dealing with new companies or new divisions, or with applications requiring handheld devices. In these situations, try to achieve a balance between price, performance, reliability, and support.
Is it easy to upgrade your servers? This is where reliability and scalability come in. Can your server hardware choice facilitate growth as your company and eBusiness needs grow? Does your server design offer linear scalability (by adding a second server to a single server environment, you double capacity) or something similar? Can your supplier support emergency demand? Can you integrate your server's capacity with that of third parties (like ISPs and ASPs)?
  1. ISP: An organization that provides access to the Internet. Small Internet service providers (ISPs) provide service via modem and ISDN while the larger ones also offer private line hookups (T1 or fractional T1). Customers are generally billed a fixed rate per month, but other charges may apply. For a fee, a Web site can be created and maintained on the ISP\'s server, allowing the smaller organization to have a presence on the Web with its own domain name.
  2. ASPs: A hosted applications solution that the buying organization does not need to install any new server hardware; it is a form of applications outsourcing.
What are your solution's multimedia requirements? Some eBusiness solutions make extensive use of multimedia, like streaming video, audio, high-resolution graphics, and so on. If an important part of your solution is rich multimedia, specialized hardware selections will be required.
Has your company already made a commitment to or does prefer specific software architectures, vendors, or brands? Some companies have already made such commitments. For example, some companies have committed to being "Microsoft" or "Unix" or "IBM" shops. Such commitments directly influence hardware buying decisions. If your company uses only Windows 2000 as a server operating system, you will not be able to purchase Sun Microsystem's hardware for your servers. In some cases, you may need to challenge the corporate standard.

In sum, there are several considerations to keep in mind when contemplating hardware purchase and implementation. The trick to making hardware-buying decisions is to allow for scalability, maintainability, and reliability without breaking the bank. The next lesson explains the functions of operating systems which is another core eBusiness technology.

A computer system can be divided roughly into four components: the hardware, the operating system, the application programs, and the users (Figure 4.3).
Figure 4.3 Abstract view of the components of a computer system
Figure 4.3 Abstract view of the components of a computer system.