E- commerce is referred to as a new business technique that takes care of the requirements of firms, consumers etc for cutting costs and enhancing the goods quality & the speed of services.

The requirement for e-commerce comes from the need inside the business to make good & efficient use of computing, which means to make use of omputer technology in such a way to enhance business processes and exchange of information both inside and across an enterprise

Electronic commerce applications are quite varied. In its most common form, it is also used to denote the exchange of business information using EDI ( Electronic Data Interchange), E-mail, EFT(electronic funds transfer) etc, and other similar technologies.

The business functions like payment and funds transfer, management of inventory, electronic catalogs etc act as initiators to the entire order management cycle that incorporates the more established notions of electronic commerce. In short, what we are witnessing is the use of the term electronic commerce as an umbrella concept to integrate a wide range of new and old applications.

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ARCHITECTURAL FRAMEWORK FOR ELECTRONIC COMMERCE

In general, a frame work is intended to define and create tools that integrate the information found in today’s closed systems and allow the development of e-commerce applications. The architecture should focus on synthesizing the diverse resources already in place in corporations to facilitate the integration of data and software for better applications. The electronic commerce application architecture consists of six layers of functionality, or functionality, or services: (1) applications; (2) brokerage services, data or transaction management: (3) interface and support layers; (4) secure messaging, security, and electronic document interchange; (5) middleware and structured document interchange ; and (6) network infrastructure and basic communications services.

1.      Electronic Commerce Application Services

The application services layer of e-commerce will be comprised of existing and future applications built on the innate architecture. Three distinct classes of e- commerce applications can be there; customer-to-business, business-to-business, and intra-organization.

Consumer-to-business Transactions

The consumers can learn about products differently through electronic publishing , purchase them differently by making use of electronic cash and payment systems which are secured, and can have them delivered differently.

Business-to-business Transactions

Here, businesses, governments, and many companies depend on computer-to-computer communication as a fast and economical way to commence business transactions. Small companies are also trying to see the benefits of making use of the same methods. Business-to-business transactions requires the use of EDI and electronic mail for purchasing goods and services, buying information and consulting services, submitting requests for proposals and receiving proposals.

Intra-organizational transactions

A company becomes market driven by spreading throughout information about its customers and competitors, by spreading strategic making so that all units of the firm can participate and by checking their commitment to customers continuously, by making improved customer satisfaction an objective. For maintaining the relationships that are critical to delivering superior customer value, management must pay close attention to service, both before and after sales.

 

2.      Information Brokerage and Management

The information brokerage and management layer provides service integration through the notion of information brokerages, the development of which is necessitated by the increasing information resource fragmentation. We use notion of information brokerage to represent an intermediary who provides service integration between customers and information providers, given some constraint such as low-price, fast service or profit maximization for a client.

Information brokerage does more than just searching. It addresses the issue of adding value to the information that is retrieved. For instance, in foreign exchange trading, information is retrieved about the latest currency exchange rates in order to hedge currency holdings to minimize risk and maximize profit.

Another aspect of the brokerage function is the support for data management and traditional transaction services. Brokerages may provide tools to accomplish more sophisticated, time-delayed updates or future-compensating transactions. These tools include software agents, distributed query generator, the distributed transaction generator and the declarative resource constraint base-which describes a business’s rules and environment information.

Software agents are used to implement information brokerages. Agents are encapsulations of users instruction that perform all kinds of tasks in electronic marketplaces spread across networks. Information brokerages dispatch agents capable of information resource gathering, negotiating deals and performing transactions.

Although the notion of software agents sounds very seductive, it will take a while to solve the problems of inter-agent communication, interoperable agents and other headaches that come with distributed computing and networking.

3.      Interface and Support Services

Interface and support services, will provide interfaces for applications such as interactive catalogs and supports directory services –functions required for information search and access. Interactive catalogs are the customized interface to consumer applications such as home shopping. An interactive catalog is an extension o the paper-based catalog and incorporates additional features such as sophisticated graphics and video to make the advertising more attractive.

Directories, on the other hand, operate behind the scenes and attempt to organize the enormous amount of information and transactions generated to facilitate electronic commerce. The primary difference between the two is that unlike interactive catalogs, which deal with people, directory support services interact directly with software applications.

4.      Secure Messaging and Structured Document Interchange Services

The importance of the fourth layer, secured messaging, is clear. Broadly defined, messaging, is the software that sits between the network infrastructure and the clients or electronic commerce applications, masking the peculiarities of the environment. In general, messaging products are not applications that solve problems; they are more enablers of the applications that solve problems.

Messaging services offer solutions for communicating non-formatted (unstructured) data-letters, memos, reports-as well as formatted (structured) data such as purchase orders, shipping notices and invoices. It supports both synchronous (immediate) and asynchronous (delayed) message delivery and processing.

Messaging is well-suited for both client-server and peer-to-peer computing models.

The main disadvantages of messaging are the new types of applications it enables – which appear to be more complex, especially to traditional programmers-and the jungle of standards it involves. Also, security, privacy and confidentiality through data encryption and authentication techniques are important issues that need to be resolved.

5.      Middleware Services

Middleware is a relatively new concept that emerged only recently. With the growth of networks, client-server technology and all other forms of communicating between/among unlike platforms the problems of getting all the pieces to work together grew. In simple terms, middleware is the ultimate mediator between diverse software programme that enables them talk to one another.

Another reason for middleware is the computing shift from application centric to data centric. To achieve data-centric computing, middleware services focus on three elements, transparency, transaction security and management and distributed object management and services.

6.      Transparency

Transparency implies users should be unaware that they are accessing multiple systems. Transparency is essential for dealing with higher-level issues than physical media and interconnection that the underlying network infrastructure is in charge of. The ideal picture is one of a “virtual” (“network; a collection of work-group, departmental, enterprises and inter enterprise LANs that appears to the end user or client application to be a seamless and easily accessed whole.

Transparency is achieved using middleware that facilitates a computing environment which is distributed. The goal is from the applications to send a request to the middleware layer, which then satisfies the request any way it can, using remote information.

 

WORLD WIDE WEB (WWW) AS THE ARCHITECTURE

Electronic commerce depends on the unspoken assumption that computers co-operate efficiently for seamless sharing of information. Unfortunately, this assumption of interoperability has not been supported by the realities of practical computing. Computing is still a world make up of many technical directions, product implementations and completing vendors.

The web community of developers and users is tackling these complex problems.

The Web architecture is made up of three primary entities ; client browser, web browser and third party services. The client browser usually interacts with the WWW server, which acts as an intermediary in the interaction with third-party services.

The client browser is rested on the user’s PC or workstation and provides an interface to the various type of content. The browser has to be smart enough to understand what file it is downloading and what browser connection it requires to activate to display the file. Browsers are also capable of manipulating local files.

Web server functions can be categorized into information retrieval, data and transaction management, and security. The third party services could be other web servers that make up the digital library, information processing tools and electronic payment systems.


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