Baseline Technologies   «Prev  Next»

Lesson 4Operating systems
ObjectiveDefine the role and vendors of operating systems in ecommerce.

The Pioneering Age of E-Commerce: Vendors, Operating Systems, and the Infrastructure Evolution

Before the ubiquity of cloud computing revolutionized the IT landscape, e-commerce – the commercial transaction of goods or services over the Internet – was already a bustling domain. This era, often referred to as the pioneering age of e-commerce, saw vendors and operating systems play pivotal roles in shaping the trajectory of online businesses. Their roles, intricate and instrumental, demanded a deep-dive exploration.

Vendors: The Pillars of E-Commerce Infrastructure

In the preliminary stages of e-commerce, vendors played an absolutely essential role, acting as the pillars of the digital infrastructure that undergirded the burgeoning world of online commerce. Vendors, in this context, refer to companies and organizations that provided hardware, software, and services necessary for businesses to establish an online presence and conduct digital transactions.
  1. Hardware Suppliers: Before the age of cloud, businesses often required their own physical servers to host websites, databases, and other necessary applications. Vendors like IBM, Dell, and HP became the go-to suppliers of these critical hardware components.
  2. Software Providers: These vendors supplied e-commerce platforms and software solutions that enabled businesses to display their products, manage inventory, and process transactions. Companies such as Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft were key players in this arena. Their products – often customized for each business – formed the heart of many online storefronts.
  3. Security and Payment Service Providers: As e-commerce transactions involve sensitive data, vendors specializing in security solutions and online payment systems were of paramount importance. These vendors ensured that transactions were encrypted, secure, and complied with various regulations.

Operating Systems: The Silent Workhorses

In the realm of e-commerce infrastructure, operating systems (OS) functioned as the silent workhorses, providing the necessary environment for all software solutions to run efficiently. Their role, though less visible to the end consumer, was no less critical.
  1. Web Servers: Operating systems like UNIX, Linux, and Windows Server were crucial in hosting websites. They provided the environment for web servers like Apache, IIS, or NGINX to run, ensuring that online stores were accessible 24/7.
  2. Databases: Most e-commerce platforms relied heavily on databases to store product information, customer details, and transaction records. Operating systems ensured the smooth running of database management systems like MySQL, Oracle, or SQL Server.
  3. Compatibility and Integration: As businesses began to integrate their e-commerce platforms with other systems (like CRM or ERP systems), the OS played a pivotal role in ensuring compatibility and facilitating seamless integration.

In Retrospect: A World Before Clouds

As e-commerce grew in complexity, so did its demands on infrastructure. The roles of vendors and operating systems were intertwined in this dance of digital evolution. They provided the tools, platforms, and environments that online businesses needed to thrive. Yet, as transformative as these entities were, they were not without challenges. The costs of setting up and maintaining physical servers were high, scalability was often a hurdle, and redundancy required significant investment. These very challenges paved the way for the next big shift in e-commerce infrastructure: the advent of cloud computing. The cloud era ushered in an age of flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness, but it stood on the shoulders of the pioneering vendors and operating systems that came before it. In recounting the history of e-commerce, their contributions are indispensable, for they laid the very foundation upon which the digital commerce empire was built.

Operating systems (OS) provide low-level software services. They convert a core instruction set available in the CPU and peripherals into a set of executable and manageable functions. This conversion occurs through higher-level software functions, such as:
  1. Programming languages/compilers[1]
  2. Management Applications: Any application that manages desktop systems (either remotely or directly on the system).
  3. Middleware: Acts as an interoperability platform between unrelated software architectures and applications.

Windows OS

The most famous operating system in the world is Microsoft's Windows. Today there are several versions of Windows.
  1. Windows OS is used for PCs
  2. Windows CE is used for handheld devices and very small mobile computers
  3. Windows Server is used for servers and workstations.
Question: Is Windows CE still used for handheld devices and very small mobile computers?
Windows CE is no longer widely used in handheld devices and very small mobile computers. Microsoft discontinued development of Windows CE in 2013, and support for most versions of Windows CE ended in 2018-2020.
There are still some devices in use that run Windows CE, but they are becoming increasingly rare. For example, some rugged handheld devices and industrial control systems may still use Windows CE. However, most new handheld devices and very small mobile computers now run Android or iOS.
Android and iOS are more versatile and powerful operating systems than Windows CE, and they have a wider range of apps available. They are also more widely supported by hardware manufacturers and software developers. If you are still using a handheld device or very small mobile computer that runs Windows CE, you should consider upgrading to a newer device that runs Android or iOS. This will ensure that you have access to the latest features and apps, and that your device is secure. Here are some examples of modern handheld devices and very small mobile computers that run Android or iOS:
  1. Zebra TC55
  2. Honeywell Dolphin 75e
  3. Honeywell Dolphin 7800 Android
  4. Honeywell CT50
  5. Zebra TC8000
  6. Zebra MC9200
If you are unsure about whether or not to upgrade your device, you should consult with your IT department or a trusted technology advisor.

In early 2000, Microsoft superceded Windows NT with Windows 2000, which was Microsoft's new line of server and workstation operating systems. Microsoft plans to offer high-end versions of Windows 2000, including a 64-bit variety, so that Microsoft can compete with Unix and other more established operating systems on larger hardware servers.

Operating System Standards

Leading operating systems in terms of market share, and in particular in terms of use in e-Commerce include:
Apple Multiple Virtual Storage (MVS) UNIX
HP-UX Netware (Novell) Windows

There are, however, more than a dozen other operating systems with legitimate market share and vendor support, and all are candidates for e-Commerce solutions. For example:
  1. SCO Unix is still used by tens of thousands of small businesses
  2. There is still plenty of VMS and Digital Unix from the Digital Equipment Corporation (now part of Compaq)
  3. Several Japanese and German computer manufacturers, like Hitachi, Fujitsu, and Siemens-Nixdorf, use their own operating systems for some of their solutions.
In addition, there are several real-time operating systems (RTOs) used for embedded systems and handheld devices.
  1. Operating system standards
  2. Operating system subgroups
  3. Operating systems can be further broken down into three subgroups:

Operating System Vendor/Tool list

Vendor Product Name(s) (if applicable) Subcategory
Apple MacOS Client
Microsoft Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000 Client
3Com PalmOS Device
Microsoft Windows CE Device
Sun Microsystems J2ME, ChorusOS Device
Hewlett-Packard HP-UX Server
IBM AIX, OS/400, MVS Server
Microsoft Windows NT Server
Novell Netware Server
Red Hat Linux Server
SCO SCO Unix Server
Silicon Graphics IRIX Server
Sun Microsystems Solaris Server

Please see the Resources section of the course to download a PDF file containing a complete list of all of the vendors and tools covered in this course, along with URLs to the vendor Websites.
  1. Client OS:
  2. Server OS:
  3. Device OS: Operating system used for handheld devices

[1]Programming Languages/Compilers: A program that translates source code (e.g. html) into object code.