Enterprise System Architectures / Edition 1

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Web-based computing is the vital technology enabler for today's most i mportant business opportunities, like E-Commerce. It is also the flexi ble foundation for future solutions. However, because of the complexit ies and difficulties it represents, it can be critical hurdle for IT s hops and for an entire business. Enterprise Systems Architecture: Buil ding Client/Server and Web-Based Systems is your guide through these c omplexities as you integrate your technology capabilities with your st rategy, people, and processes to deliver astounding solutions.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780849398360
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 992
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.97 (d)

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Chapter 1: Netcentric: The Evolution of Computing, Frameworks, and Architectures

The 1970s: On-Line Transactions

In the 1970s, businesses began a transition to on-line, interactive transactions. Once again, there are many variations to on-line processing. However, at a conceptual level this processing opened up the file of transactions found in batch transactions and allowed the user to submit them one at a time, receiving either immediate confirmation of the success of the transaction or else feedback on the nature of the transaction error.

The conceptually simple change of having the user interact with the machine on a transaction-at-a-time basis caused huge changes in the nature of business computing. Those who were present at the beginning of this era can remember long discussions on such questions as what good screen design was and whether the concept of a dialog was a good thing.

More important, users saw huge changes in what they could do on a dayto-day basis. A transaction was processed when it happened, and the impact of the transaction was known to all concerned. Customers were no longer forced to wait for a batch run to process the application. In essence, the machine had an impact on the entire flow of work for the business user. Technological impact became human impact and business impact.

With the advent of on-line interactive systems, it was equally significant that the systems provided a means for the business user to communicate with others in the business as the day-to-day business went along. This capability was provided on the backbone of a wide area network (WAN). The WAN was in itself a demanding technology; because of these demands,telecommunications groups emerged within organizations, charged with the responsibility to maintain, evolve, and manage the network over time.

The 1980s: Databases

The theme of the 1980s was database and database management systems (DBMSs). Organizations used and applied database technology in the 1970s, but in the 1980s they grew more confident in the application of DBMS technology. They began to focus more on the sharing of data across organizational and application boundaries.

Curiously, database technology did not change the fundamental way in which business processing was done. DBMS made it more convenient to access the data and to ensure that it could be updated while maintaining the integrity of the data. In the long term it became apparent that DBMS was more about the business changing than about the technology changing. If the organization was willing to share information across organizational boundaries, DBMS could and did provide extraordinary benefits. If not, it was a rather machine-intensive way to achieve what could be done using more traditional access routines. The 1990s: The Coming Of Client/Server

In the 1990s, technology began to shift toward client/server computing. In this style of computing, once again, there were fundamental changes in technology.

First, there was another shift in the level of processing. Using the workstation, the transaction entered by the user could now be processed on a keystroke-by-keystroke basis. This was a change, again, in the level of interaction. This change led to a whole new set of discussions on how to do good window design, how to place widgets, and when and how to do processing driven off the keystrokes of the business.

Furthermore, there was a change in the communications. With client/server, users could communicate with others in the work group via a local area network (LAN). The LAN permitted workstation-to-workstation communications at speeds of 100 to 1,000 times what was typically available on a WAN area network. The LAN was a technology that could be grown and evolved in a local office with little need for direct interaction from the telecommunications group. This meant the local site could begin to evolve its own answer to the changing demands of the local business.

The Next Evolutionary Step: Netcentric Computing

Netcentric computing has brought new technologies to the forefront, especially in the area of external presence and access, ease of distribution, and media capabilities. Some of these are:

  • Browsers, which provide a "universal client." The browser-centric application style offers a new option in distributing functionality to both internal and external users. In the traditional client/server environment, distributing an application internally or externally for an enterprise requires that the application be recompiled and tested for all specific workstation operating systems. It also usually requires loading the application on each client machine. The browser-centric application style offers an alternative to this traditional problem. Today the Web browser provides a universal client that offers users a consistent and familiar user interface. Using a browser, a user can launch many types of applications and view many types of documents. This can be accomplished on different operating systems/platforms and is independent of where the applications or documents reside. The browser technology is also changing the traditional desktop as companies such as Netscape and Microsoft, leading Web browser vendors, continue to evolve their products (such as Internet Explorer and Netscape Communicator) and to redefine the structure and style of the traditional desktop.
  • Direct supplier-to-customer relationships. The external presence and access enabled by connecting a business node to the Internet has opened up a series of opportunities to reach an audience outside a company's traditional internal users. Consequently, the Internet is becoming another vehicle for companies to conduct business with their customers through broadcasting of product and service descriptions, exchanging interactive information and conducting actual business transactions.
  • Richer documents. The ability to digitize, organize, and deliver textual, graphical, and other information in addition to traditional data to a broader audience enables new ways for people and enterprises to work together. Netcentric technologies (such as HTML documents, plug-ins, and Java) and standardization of media information formats enable support for these types of complex documents, applications, and even nondiscrete data types such as audio and video. Network bandwidth remains a performance issue; however, advances in network technologies and compression continue to make richer mediaenabled applications more feasible on the Web.
  • Application version checking and dynamic update. Configuration management of traditional client/server applications, which tend to be stored on both the client hard disk and on the server, is a major issue for many corporations. The distribution and update problems of such applications that are packaged as one large or a combination of a few large executables makes minor updates difficult for even a small-scale user population because, every time an update is made, a process must be initiated to distribute new code to all client machines.
Advances in netcentric technologies are allowing applications to be packaged differently. For instance, ActiveX technology (from Microsoft) introduced version checking and dynamic install and update. The need for this had long been recognized; however, it was typically at best a custom effort, often bypassed due to its difficulty and cost. The introduction of this capability into core system software changes its implementation cost and makes it a more feasible option to implement...
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Table of Contents

Section I Overview of Netcentric Computing Solutions
I-1 Netcentric: The Evolution of Computing, Frameworks, and Architectures
I-2 Netcentric Computing and New Business Capabilities

Section II Architectures and Frameworks for Netcentric Computing
II-1 Architecture Frameworks for Client/Server and Netcentric Computing
II-2 Presentation Services
II-3 Information Services
II-4 Communications Architectures
II-5 Transaction Services
II-6 Environment Services
II-7 Base Services
II-8 Development Architecture
II-9 A Framework for Testing Netcentric Applications
II-10 Operations Architecture
II-11 Transition Frameworks for Netcentric Environments
II-12 Platform Architecture

Section III Designing and Implementing Netcentric Solutions
III-1 A Framework for Netcentric Implementation
III-2 Design and Implementation of Client/Server and Netcentric Architectures
III-3 Overview of Data and Process Distribution
III-4 Finalizing the Distribution Strategy
III-5 Netcentric Integration with Existing Systems
III-6 Interface Design
III-7 System Controls
III-8 Network Infrastructure Options for Netcentric Implementation
III-9 Management of Distributed Operations
III-10 Testing Implementation
III-11 Site Preparation and Installation
III-12 Project Management
III-13 Change Management

Section IV Special Topics
IV-1 Netcentric Security
IV-2 Knowledge Management
IV-3 Collaborative Computing Solutions
IV-4 Data Mining
IV-5 The Information Delivery Facility: Beyond Data Warehousing
IV-6 Componentware
IV-7 Costs and Frameworks for Managing the Client/Server Environment

About the Authors

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