First Presented 11 August 1999
Paper at www.ramin.com.au/marg/services.html
The universality of the Internet, has created a standard user interface to applications. Outsourcing and the evolution of common comprehensive software solutions, has lead to Vendors offering bureau services over the Internet - how will these "hosted applications", served over the Internet, differ from the facilities management offerings of the 1970s?
Marghanita da Cruz is principal consultant of Ramin Communications. Specialising in scoping requirements and implementing Internet delivered solutions. These solutions have included corporate electronic mail and information systems, the evaluation of telecommunications options for Internet access and delivery, and portals for communities of interest.
Business models for the implementation of Information Technology have been evolving in parallel with commercial and technical developments. In the 1970s the basis of the business model was expensive computer systems used to speed up the processing of complex information. Computer systems were the domain of weather and economic forecasters trying who found a solution to their computation needs in predicting events, preferably before they happened.
Through the 80s we saw the reduction in the cost of computers, the emergence of mini computers and personal computers. These systems questioned the role of IT departments as the protectors of large and expensive computer systems and we saw the evolution of the distributed end user computing. Technical specialists debated the appropriate operating system - CPM, MS/DOS or Unix, IBM eventually succumbed and released the IBMPC running MSDOS and the rest is history.
Then as the reality dawned on organisations that a major component of their expenditure was on computers, relationships with vendors developed and the duties of minding the computers and software became closely linked to the supply of the systems as the outsourced management model evolved. There was still an issue of interoperability between vendors who vied for the marketing advantage of licensing the industry standard.
While these discussions were happening within organisations the Internet, electronic mail and the world wide web was integrating organisations into the real world of other organisations and clients. This paper looks at the Internet enabled business model for providing services.
In my paper to Internet World 98 (Build or Buy?), I discussed the need for enterprises to develop business and management strategies based on the Internet model. It was not sufficient to outsource a computer system, it was necessary to develop a framework to manage the functions and services of the enterprise making maximum use of the Internet. I suggested that an enterprises ability to handle electronic mail, could be valuable indicator of its Internet readiness.
This year I will discuss the three significant opportunities the Internet provides to streamline intra and inter business operations:
The Internet introduces three areas for security consideration.
Encryption addresses the issues of integrity, confidentiality and privacy of information as it passes across the public network. However, the technology does not address the authentication of the transacting parties to establish their authority and avoid repudiation at a later date.
To some degree, digital signatures or certificates (public key/private key pair) have been recognised as the enabling encryption technology. However, the system relies on a trusted third party to issue and validate key pairs. The third party has to be trusted to preserve the integrity of issued certificates and identify the recipient, without breaching their privacy. The proposed Public Key Authentication Framework addresses these two issues with a hierarchical structure of certification authorities who either issue certificates or certify issuing authorities. Widespread public interest in digital signatures and implied acceptance of the framework is yet to be demonstrated.
Several standards and Internet Technologies are emerging to address the technical aspects of securing the Internet. These include:
The success of such a strategy is dependent on:
The timeshared systems of the seventies provided access to expensive resources for compute intensive applications. Internet based systems have the potential to integrate business systems across enterprises. This requires a technology model which can exploit short term and strategic opportunities by implementing systems, which can adapt to evolving business models.