Note:  this is a place holder for Marty Tenenbaum who is out of the country from now past Nov 21.  He will provide an update abstract when he returns on work his group is doing on XML and document object modeling  -CWT

Eco System: An Internet Commerce Architecture

Jay M. Tenenbaum, Tripatinder S. Chowdhry, and Kevin Hughes

The Internet provides the first affordable and secure way to link people and computers spontaneously across organizational boundaries. But the Internet's potential is imperiled by the rising specter of digital anarchy: closed markets that cannot use each other's services; incompatible applications and frameworks that cannot interoperate or build upon each other; and an array of security and payment options that confuses consumers.

One solution to these problems is an object-oriented architectural framework for Internet commerce. Several major vendors of electronic-commerce solutions have announced proprietary versions of such a framework, including IBM, Microsoft, Netscape, Oracle, and Sun/JavaSoft. Recently, four of these companies have agreed to support a common distributed object model based on CORBA IIOP (Internet InterORB Protocol).

Yet for commerce on the Internet to thrive, such systems must also interoperate at a business application level. A consumer or business using one framework should be able to shop for, purchase, and pay for goods and services offered on a different framework. This is currently not possible.

In response, CommerceNet is organizing Eco System, a cross-industry effort to build a framework of frameworks, involving both e-commerce vendors and end users. The success of Eco depends on market leaders in each area participating actively on their respective task forces. Admittedly, in past battles for market dominance, it was difficult to bring leading players to the table. For robust Internet commerce, however, interoperability is so fundamental that we have to turn the concept of openness on its head-it's not just publishing an API. Everyone's software has to work together because no single company can control what platform its customers will use.

Internet commerce stands at a critical juncture. After an exhilarating start-up, further development hinges on bridging the chasm between early adopters and a true mass market.

Computer, Vol. 30, No. 5, May 1997
Copyright (c) 1997 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved

pp. 48-55