Ecommerce Concepts   «Prev  Next»

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

Overview of ecommerce Standards and Basic Concepts

What role do standards play within the context of ecommerce?

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 versus Open Standards

A de facto standard is the result of market leading technology. In contrast, an open standard exists through the approval of a standards committee overseen by a non-competing third party, such as the ANSI , or OMG, or the W3C. For example, in the world of object standards there are two competitors:
  1. De facto standards: Have NOT been approved by a standards organization. Instead these are widely used and recognized by an industry as being standard.
  2. Open standards: Consensus-driven standards that are vendor-neutral and freely available to all anyone.
  3. American National Standards Institute (ANSI): Responsible for creating standards for private and public organizations in the United States.
  4. Object Management Group (OMG): A consortium of more than 700 companies with the goal of providing a common framework for developing applications using object-oriented programming techniques. OMG is responsible for the CORBA specification.
  5. World Wide Web Consortium: Responsible for producing interoperable specifications and sample code for the Internet.
  6. Object Standards: Define how objects should (a) define and expose their methods and properties to other objects, (b) act by themselves, and interact with other objects, and (c) turn into other objects, or get combined into larger objects.

Legacy Middleware

  1. CORBA is an open standard established by an OMG-managed process
  2. COM is a de facto standard due to Microsoft's dominant market position.
Both CORBA and COM should be considered within the context of a given situation. For example, a Unix-oriented company would probably show a preference for CORBA, while a company with a strong commitment to Microsoft Visual Studio is more likely to prefer COM. During this course, we will not distinguish (in terms of preference) between de facto standards and open standards.
  1. Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA): Enables pieces of programs, called objects, to communicate with one another regardless of what operating system they are running on or what programming language they were written in.
  2. Component Object Model (COM): Microsoft's language independent component architecture intended to provide general purpose, object oriented means to encapsulate commonly used features and functions.

SEMrush Software
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.