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Electronic Commerce Technology Chapter-3 Web-Based Tools for Electronic Commerce

Introduction The basic requirement for a merchant to have a Web presence or have an electronic commerce site, is (i) a connection to the Internet, and (ii) a Web server in the company network. The two main ingredients in a Web server are its hardware and software. In this chapter, we will discuss these requirements of a Web server. Web Server Hardware A merchant should think carefully when making a decision on the Web server computer. The decision depends on factors such as:   Operating system of the network. Unix operating system is found to be more rugged than that of Windows, but Unix is more complex to manage than Windows. Hardware requirement of the Web server software. A PC with a midrange CPU, small hard drive, and 32 megabytes of memory will perform poorly when compared with a high-end workstation or a powerful UNIX-based computer. Expected traffic or the number of transaction per unit time. Running a large, enterprise-class application server (such as an ERP system) on a personal computer is not feasible. Other software running on the same computer. For example, running a Web server and a database server can significantly slow down the performance of a computer. Scalability of the hardware -- meaning upgrade of components such memory, disk space, disk mirroring, or even connect additional Web servers if necessary.

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Setting Up a Web Server Setting up a Web server doesn’t require a lot of money. One can build a small Web server with an inexpensive PC (costing about $1,500) running on Windows 98 or NT. But it is a good idea to start with a server-type computer offered by several leading PC manufacturers.

Benchmarking Web Server Hardware and Software Benchmarking Web server hardware and software combination can help make informed decisions for a merchant. Benchmarking is testing used to compare performance of hardware and software. The results of benchmark tests demonstrate that there are measurable differences in server performance that a web site manager must consider before purchasing or leasing a web server. A benchmark test considers several factors such as:  The computer hardware

Besides testing Web server’s performance. API is more efficient than CGI.exe program in the site mentioned and run a database query for ticker=MSFT. For example.  Both CGI and API are protocols that are supported by a Web server software. causes to run stock. it is important to test server software features for efficiency and usability. WebStone is a popular benchmarking software that measures performance on various types of Web pages such as:   HTML: This is the standard static Web page containing only HTML tags. versus a static page. clicking on a link with URL: http://www. API: Application Programming Interface or API is a set of protocols that uses “multithreading” to handle user requests of the dynamic Web pages. which is just a plain HTML page.     The Web server software Network connection: A Web server on a T3 connection can deliver Web pages to clients much faster than it could on a T1 connection. Type of Web page: A server that delivers mostly static Web pages will perform better than the same server that delivers dynamic Web pages. Throughput: It is the number of HTTP requests that a particular hardware and software combination can process in a unit of time. A dynamic page is a Web page whose content is shaped by a program in response to user request (such as a database query). CGI: Common Gateway Interface or CGI protocol causes the Web server to run another program and return the result to the Web server.exe?ticker=MSFT. There are companies who offer performance comparison on leading server-type computers and Web servers. View latest report from Mindcraft: http://www.mindcraft. There are also several benchmarking programs available in the market that can be used by a merchant to test an e-commerce site. Response Time: It is the amount of time that a server requires to process one request.com/perfreports/web/ Web Server Software Feature Sets All Web server software provide some basic features which can be classified as:  Core capabilities  Site management  Application Construction.com/cgi-bin/stock. as CGI requires an individual program to be brought to the Web server memory when requested by multiple users.stocknews. and  Electronic commerce .

Electronic commerce sites use SSL to accept confidential information such as credit card numbers from Web consumers. The public documents are to be viewed by any user. formats the HTML page.Mybusiness. and also the logical name and the physical name do not have to be same. Thus users can transfer files to and from the server. Access controls provide or deny access to files based on the username or by URL. Web servers also support Secure Socket Layer (SSL). For a dynamic page. This is useful when users develop and test Web pages in their personal computer (even dynamic Web pages using a personal Web server) before moving to the company Web server. and the pages visited. A Web administrator normally configures this physical-to-logical file naming. Log files can yield information that can be used for Internet marketing. Security: Web servers are located publicly on the Internet or privately on organizational intranet. Thus different groups can have their own domain name. the server invokes other programs or database. The files and folders are configured for validation of username and password. and returns it to the client.Core Capabilities The most fundamental duty of a Web server is to process and respond to Web client requests that are sent using HTTP protocol. The Web server translates a logical URL into a physical file address. Search engines or search tools search either the existing site or the entire Web for requested documents.htm. Security and authentication services are set for extranet users. usually behind firewalls. A user may have to be authenticated with a username and password unless anonymous access is provided for files and folders. This means that many businesses can share a Web server’s IP address. An indexing program provides full-text indexing whereby indexes are generated for documents stored on the server.htm” may be configured as logical URL: www. including who is visiting the Web site (the visitor’s URL). Security is also an issue using FTP services. the server locates the page and returns it as a formatted HTML document to the client computer. Searching: Search engines and indexing programs are standard components of the Web server. . Site Analysis: Web servers can capture visitor information. which is a protocol developed by Netscape for transmitting private information securely over the public Internet. The physical file may be in the same computer or in another computer. FTP: Web servers provide File Transfer Protocol (FTP) services. Web servers allow processing digital certificates and private/public key pairs. A virtual server or virtual host is a feature that maintains more than one server on one machine. For example. and the folders containing public documents are configured to be viewed by anonymous users. the date and time of each visit. IP-Sharing or Virtual Server: A Web server can work as many virtual Web servers. how long the visitor browsed the site. These data are stored in a log file. in which case the users are accessing Web files from the public Internet. the physical file “c:\Inetpub\wwwroot\default. For a static page. but all domain names refer to the same physical Web server.com/home. Logical File: A Web server can have a logical file name corresponding to a physical file.

Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) is another technology developed by Sun. and Oracle). Administrators can stop and restart all Web services without stopping and restarting the computer.com/siteserver/commerce/default.com/products/jdbc/index. broken links.microsoft. or entire domains.com/data/techmat. error-prone pages etc. transact business. An electronic commerce software can provide templates and other tools to quickly develop an e-commerce site. there are protocols such as Common Gateway Interface (CGI) and Application programming Interface (API) that are used by programs such as Java and C++ to develop dynamic Web pages. DB2. shopping carts.microsoft.Site Management A Web server provides tools to manage the services mentioned above. Reference: http://java. and identification of orphan pages. and analyze commerce Web sites more effectively. such as management of multiple Web sites. file security. Application Development Application development includes Web editors and extensions to produce Web pages – either static or dynamic. Administration of a Web server can be performed from a remote computer in the network. Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) and ActiveX Data Object (ADO) mechanisms. For dynamic Web pages.htm . can be used to develop dynamic Web pages that use database connection of variety of databases from different manufactures (such as SQL Server. and log file analysis. both developed by Microsoft.htm Similar to ODBC. Active Server Pages (ASP) developed by Microsoft. Reference:http://www. With ASP. one can build Web pages with embedded query strings for database manipulation using scripting languages such as VBScript and JavaScript. an electronic commerce software is a separate software that integrates with the existing Web server. Site management also include authoring tools such as Microsoft Front page 2000. Microsoft Site Server 3. This might include templates for product browsing.sun. as well as script checking. that is used for Web-database applications. written in Java and it runs on Unix Web servers.htm Case Study: http://www. But in most cases. These include HTML editors such as FrontPage for static Web pages. is a server-side scripting technology to build dynamic Web applications.com/solutions/ecommerce/OffDepot. and credit card processing. Ref: http://www.microsoft.html Electronic Commerce Some Web servers provide advanced services that support online selling and buying (such as shopping cart and catalog services). groups of computers. Administrators can grant or deny Web access to individual computers.0 Commerce Edition is an Internet commerce server that enables businesses to engage customers. HTML validation. virtual file.

IIS runs only on the Windows NT operating system and it comes free with the NT Server. MMC is a Microsoft network administrative tool that can be used to administer all servers in the NT network.Web Server Software and Tools There are many Web server software available in the market. Because Windows NT allows many IP addresses to be assigned to a single network interface card. and O’Reilly WebSite Professional Of these. Some of them run on only one operating system while others run on several operating systems. HP-UX. and Sybase SQL Server. These servers account for about 75% of the intranet Web servers. It includes a search engine and the Microsoft FrontPage HTML authoring tool. Apache supports the ODBC standard and can access databases in Microsoft SQL Server. visit: http://www. or from a remote computer within the local network using the Microsoft Management Console (MMC). IBM Db2. an HTML authoring tool. and Linux. Oracle. the Apache and Microsoft Web servers are leading in the market. It also supports Java applets (or client-side scripting) that runs in the browser. Netcraft. It also supports FTP. Apache can be managed either from the server console or remotely using a Web browser. . a networking consulting company. Apache also supports ASP (active server pages) and Java servlets (Java scripts). For further information.com for the latest survey results. Sun Solaris. both of which are serverside scripting programs. from a browser.apache. Apache HTTP server Apache runs on a wide variety of operating system such as Microsoft NT.org/httpd. IIS supports multiple virtual Web hosting. Visithttp://netcraft. and it supports FTP.html Microsoft Internet Information Server Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) is the second most popular Web server in the public domain and it is the most popular Web server in the intranetdomain. periodically surveys on the number and type of Web servers used by various organizations. It supports CGI (Common Gateway Interface) and API (Application Programming Interface) programming interface. The four most popular Web servers are: · · · · Apache HTTP Server Microsoft Internet Information Server Netscape Enterprise Server. but only a few of them are leading in the total market share. It has a built-in search engine. It can be managed locally. This is because of the largest share of Windows NT operating system in the PC market.

and other web-based activity. directory. negotiating and purchasing products/services on the Internet. Web portals are customizable home bases from which users do their searching. FoxPro) through appropriate ODBC drivers. group. push technologies and intelligent agents are issues for consideration in the acquisition of a commercial Web site. which is a descendant of the original web server program. . or update existing pages. Intelligent agent software runs in the background to reduce the workload involved in locating. ActiveX Servers (equivalent to Java applets). It is aimed at sites that service a large number of hits (as high as 100 million per day). or file.asp Netscape Enterprise server Netscape Enterprise Server (NES) is popular Web software. Push technologies allow suppliers to “push” unsolicited information about their product/services down the distribution channel by automated delivery of specific information from a web server to a customer’s hard drive. HP-UX. Although pull technologies which involve a proactive request by the customer for information still predominates. The index is a catalog of everything that the spider locates. For further information. Other Web Server Tools Other web server tools such as portals. IIS supports its native Active Server Pages (ASP). an index and a search engine utility program. visit: http://www. search engines. A spider searches the web to find pages. a spider. evaluating.com/windows2000/guide/server/features/web. information filtering. It has all other features like Microsoft IIS and some are even better such as file transfer mechanism and administration. Access control can be limited to a user. SQL server. Digital Unix) and NT environment. navigating. NES runs on both Unix (Solaris. The search engine’s utility program. searches millions of pages to identify matches and then ranks them in order of each link’s relevance.microsoft. the application of push technologies is increasing especially for intranet users. All search engines contain three components. and ISAPI (equivalent to API). It supports many common databases (Access. Oracle.Security is tightly integrated with the Windows NT operating system. IIS allows secured socket layer (SSL) and includes a built-in certificate server. or mediation for the users. upon request of the client. This software robot performs tasks such as information gathering.