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Lesson 9Considerations for packaged applications and turnkey solutions
ObjectiveDescribe considerations for packaged applications and turnkey solutions.

Baseline technologies for e-Commerce

Baseline technologies
Baseline technologies

ECommerce solutions often need to interoperate with packaged applications. Following are a few considerations for the e-Commerce architect in this area:
Turnkey Technologies
Turnkey Technologies
Understand what exists: Nearly every corporation possesses productivity, enterprise, and vertical applications. Some of these applications may be outsourced to Application Service Providers[1].
An application service provider (ASP) is defined as an enterprise that delivers application functionality and associated services across a network to multiple customers using a rental or usage-based transaction-pricing model. Gartner defines the ASP market as the delivery of standardized application software via a network, though not particularly or exclusively the Internet, through an outsourcing contract predicated on usage-based transaction pricing. The ASP market is composed of a mix of service providers (Web hosting and IT outsourcing), independent software vendors and network/telecommunications providers. It is important for the e-Commerce architect to take a full inventory of these applications, for an e-Commerce solution will often need to interface with these installed systems. For example, no matter how important an e-Commerce application is, it will seldom get a company to change its underlying accounting system.

Organizations are likely to be reluctant to develop their own e-Commerce technology if they use a minimally customized or "vanilla" implementation of their enterprise applications. In contrast, organizations with large amounts of custom-built or customized enterprise applications will often be open to taking on e-Commerce development tasks themselves.

It is important to keep track of activities in this area so that you do not need to reinvent the wheel.

Interfaces and security

E-Commerce solutions often require the development of interfaces to packaged applications.
Additionally, e-Commerce connections to back office applications often create challenging security scenarios. Previously, the only people who impacted the internal applications were employees. Now, via Web/e-Commerce interface, external personnel may fire off back-office transactions. Allow for security reviews for each interface in the project plan.


Keep in mind that e-Commerce can generate high volumes of new transactions. The underlying packaged application may need re-tuning to handle the new load. A successful e-Commerce solution needs to be much more than a pretty interface!

The weakest performance link in an application determines the overall speed of the application to the user (the "weakest link" theory). Do not let a forgotten underlying packaged application ruin the performance of an e-Commerce solution.

Turnkey headaches

The beauty of turnkey solutions is that the buyer can:
  1. Plug in the equipment
  2. Get some training
  3. Have a solution

Turnkey Solutions

The headache for e-Commerce is that most turnkey solutions do not offer an open interface. [2] They are self-contained, closed systems. When taking application inventory, make special note of turnkey solutions because they may become e-Commerce project bottlenecks.
Data conversion implementations are a critical concern in ERP implementations.
Industry-specific requirements are important considerations in selecting an ERP implementation. For example, most ERP solutions offer industry-specific functionality that replaces or integrates with a long list of point solutions. The integration scenario for ERP, therefore, tends to be far more complex than for point back office applications (like HR).
Similarly, supply chain management applications are becoming vertically specialized. For example, one of i2's specialties is electronics industry distribution. Whenever an e-Commerce or enterprise application solution involves both horizontal and vertical business processes, the impact of interface and data conversion rises to critical levels.

CRM and content management in e-Commerce

Two areas that historically have been segmented in packaged applications, CRM and document management/workflow, are going through major transitions due to e-Commerce. The changes in CRM are so extensive, we have dedicated an entire module to them in this course. Many document management/workflow vendors and their products are in the middle of a major mutation into a Web-oriented set of technologies commonly referred to as content management. We will cover content management in this course.
[1]Open Interface:Specifications to the interface are open to the public. This allows anyone to add on desired usability.
[2] Application Service Provider (ASP): A hosted applications solution that the buying organization does not need to install any new server hardware; it is a form of applications outsourcing.

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