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Designing Systems for Internet Commerce

Designing Systems for Internet Commerce

by G. Winfield Treese
Internet commerce poised to revolutionize the way we do business is quickly becoming a reality, with an exploding number of Internet business sites now being deployed. If you are thinking about taking the Internet commerce plunge, read this book. Written by two of the most experienced practitioners in this burgeoning field, Designing Systems for Internet Commerce


Internet commerce poised to revolutionize the way we do business is quickly becoming a reality, with an exploding number of Internet business sites now being deployed. If you are thinking about taking the Internet commerce plunge, read this book. Written by two of the most experienced practitioners in this burgeoning field, Designing Systems for Internet Commerce will guide you through the business and technical considerations of building fully functioning, secure, and financially successful Internet commerce systems. Both comprehensive and practical, this book explains the fundamental principles of system design, reveals best design practices, and offers reality-based advice on implementation. It explores the common issues and critical questions to ask when planning a system for Internet commerce. In addition, it describes the key technologies relevant to electronic commerce and explains how to apply them using numerous examples. The authors' special focus is problem solving: They discuss the many potential risks, challenges, and stumbling blocks of Internet commerce systems and how best to deal with them. This information will enable you to anticipate and solve the problems you are likely to face, helping you implement an Internet commerce system that effectively serves the needs of your organization and its customers. You will also find comprehensive coverage of: * Consumer retail, business-to-business, and information commerce business models * The critical issue of privacy versus merchandising * Legal issues, such as taxation, copyright, and digital signatures * Essential cryptography and security standards and methods * Functional architecture and implementation strategies, such as the use of outsourcing, custom development, and off-the-shelf products * The technological building blocks of e-commerce, including content transport technologies, CGI, Java, ActiveX, sessions and cookies, CORBA, SET, and COM * Proven strategies for system design * Creating and managing content * Payment systems and transaction processing In addition, the authors walk you through a full-fledged Internet commerce system design to illustrate all of these strategies, technologies, and functions in action. Moreover, the book demonstrates how to separate content from transactions, and offers an example of a scalable transaction engine. Designing Systems for Internet Commerce will give you an understanding of how to bridge the gap between your vision of Internet commerce and the reality of attaining that vision with the technologies available today.

Editorial Reviews

A guide to the business and technical considerations of building systems for pursuing commerce on the Internet. Discusses such aspects as consumer retail, business-to-business, and information commerce business models, privacy versus merchandizing; legal issues such as taxation, copyright, and digital signatures, cryptography and security standards and digital signatures, and architecture and implementation strategies. Includes an annotated bibliography. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Product Details

Addison Wesley Professional
Publication date:
Edition description:
Older Edition
Product dimensions:
7.37(w) x 9.17(h) x 0.79(d)

Read an Excerpt

In 1994, The Economist ranked the Internet between the telephone and the printing press in its long-term impact on the world. Just as those inventions transformed society, so the Internet has already begun a transformation—one that is happening much faster than the earlier revolutions. Commerce, of course, is one arena already feeling the effects of the Internet. In the past few years, we have seen dramatic changes in some businesses, the creation of new businesses, and significant effects on others.

In the nineteenth century, fast transportation—the railroad—fundamentally changed commerce. At the end of the twentieth century, the Internet is making fundamental changes to commerce for the next century. We are just at the beginning of the revolution. It is a revolution made possible by technology, offering a tremendous variety of new business opportunities. The technology will continue to change, and change at a rapid pace. New markets will appear; old ones will be transformed or disappear entirely. The short-term changes in technology and markets are important, but the reaction to them must be balanced with a long-term business vision. The challenge is using the technology effectively to achieve business goals.

The audience for this book is what we call the "Internet commerce team." This team includes people responsible for business and those responsible for technology. It includes those who develop the strategic vision for a company, and those who put the strategy into action. In other words, the Internet commerce team is the group of people who make Internet commerce happen, from vision to implementation.

Our focus is on makingInternet commerce happen, and making it successful over the long term. In some ways, Internet commerce seems deceptively simple: companies think "let's put up a web site, and watch the money roll in." A year later, they're wondering what happened, and why it wasn't successful. As anyone involved in running a business knows, nothing is ever that easy. The most basic rules of business haven't changed, but the Internet does change the playing field. It offers new markets, new ways to get close to customers, new ways to work with partners.

For some, the excitement over Internet commerce has created a "credibility gap" between grand visions of change and the day-to-day problems of running computer systems for a business. It is easy to paint an exciting vision of the future, yet often difficult to figure out to get there. This book aims to help bridge this gap, grounding the vision of change with what is possible for businesses to achieve with the changing technology.

Throughout the book, we emphasize both practice and principles—the what and the why. Practices are the actions; the specific ideas for specific circumstances. Principles are the general rules; the elements on which practices are built. As technology changes (or, for that matter, as business models change), the practices will need to change. The principles, in contrast, change more slowly, and can be applied in a wide variety of circumstances. When a team understands the principles underlying what they do, they can adapt to changing circumstances and develop new practices for it. Without that understanding, they can become incapacitated when the situation changes and different practices are needed to be successful.

What the technology brings is a combination of new opportunities, changing cost structures, new customers, and faster response times. The technology opportunities must be combined with and tempered by the business goals. This book is about that combination—designing computer systems for doing business on open networks.

When we say this book is about design, we mean that it is intended to help with the design process. It doesn't give all the answers—the actual design for your business requirements is likely to be very different from someone else's. Nonetheless, we can explore some of the common issues and critical questions to ask when planning any system for Internet commerce. In the process, we look at some of the key technologies of today, and apply those technologies in several examples.

A word of warning: at times it may seem that we are overly concerned with potential problems—the things that can go wrong. These are not reasons to avoid Internet commerce. Rather, we think it is important to approach Internet commerce as you would any other business proposition, understanding the downside as well as the upside, the risks as well as the benefits. On balance, using the Internet for commerce can be a tremendous asset for businesses. Doing everything possible to maximize the chances for success is merely good business.


This book is an attempt to write down what we have learned about Internet Commerce so far. Much of our experience in this area is drawn from our association with Open Market, which began operations in April 1994, but we have applied many of the lessons learned about the Internet and about systems design during our earlier careers at Xerox, Digital Equipment, and MIT, as well as from our academic associations with MIT, Harvard, and Stanford University.

We would like first to acknowlege the great contributions and support we have received in this endeavor from Shikhar Ghosh, Gary Eichhorn, Andy Payne, Peter Woon, and the rest of our colleagues at Open Market. In one way or another, everyone at Open Market has contributed to this work.

The editorial team at Addison-Wesley has been outstanding, with our editor Karen Gettman, editorial assistant Mary Harrington, and the editor who inspired this work, Carol Long.

We have been fortunate to have many insightful reviewers for early drafts of our manuscript. Our thanks to Russell Nelson, Nathaniel Borenstein, Marcus Ranum, Richard Smith, Brian Reistad, Dave Crocker, Ray Kaplan, Bruce Schneier, John Adams, John Romkey, Fred Avolio, Kurt Friedrich, Alex Mehlman, Paul Baier, Ian Reid, Jeff Bussgang, and the anonymous reviewers.

Writing a book is a challenge not only for the authors, but for our families as well. To our wives, Marie and Catherine, and our daughters, Erica and Samantha, go our thanks and our love. We are truly blessed.

Win Treese
Cambridge, MA

Larry Stewart
Burlington, MA


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