Enterprises need to rethink their application architectures and supporting technologies when moving to the Internet, Since user, organisational and technical requirements are different to those of client/server, simply Web enabling packages is often not enough.
However, the task is not impossible - the two architectures are not contradictory, according to Betsy Burton, research director at the Gartner Group, speaking at the consultancy?s fifth annual Enterprise Systems conference in Chicago this week. In fact, the Net can be used as a method of taking client/server from old two-tier to modern three-tier architectures.
?The Internet is evolving from a publishing medium into a dynamic medium for supporting intercompany and external online transaction processing (OLTP) applications and this is putting a strain on the existing infrastructure," she said.
She believes: "Users? number one concern is how to keep data up to date, followed by privacy, scalability and interface issues because you need to continually change the front end to make customers return to your Web site."
This means that organisations need to take several things into consideration when evaluating a move to the Internet because there are trade-offs involved.
Companies just wanting some presence on the Net can simply add a Web front end to their existing applications using screen scraper technology, but they should bear in mind that while this is the cheapest option, security and transaction integrity are very low.
On the other hand, those wanting to increase their market visibility would be advised to extend their current packages by bolting on either off the shelf or custom made Internet infrastructure technologies such as application servers. While this increases cost, transaction integrity and security are improved and application extensibility is also better.
However, those firms wanting to use the Internet for ecommerce and to increase profitability should consider building packages from the ground up. This will cause costs to rise dramatically because they will need to think about issues such as an organisational and customer support infrastructure and defining relevant policies and procedures, but the application will be extensible into the long term.
But, Burton warned: ?You can do the best architecture in the world, but if the cost goes up too much, it doesn?t make sense. Ensure you scale your expectations with the costs or else it will cause you a lot of work.?
She added that users should bear in mind that less than five per cent of ecommerce applications were likely to deal with heavyweight transactions before 2001, but by 2002, some 75 per cent of all such packages would probably be built from the ground up.
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