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Internet provides valuable technology infrastructure tool.

The Internet has revolutionized information distribution. Aided significantly by the huge acceptance of the World Wide Web and its platform independent browser technologies, the Internet has become the defacto standard global information infrastructure on which all types of information are stored, accessed, processed, and distributed. As a massive, subsidized telecommunications infrastructure, the Internet offers economies of scale not achievable with any other single technology. Today, companies can leverage the Internet and Internet technologies as their primary technology infrastructure on which mission critical business systems and applications can be cost-effectively deployed.

Before discussing how and why leveraging the Internet for your business is beneficial, it is important to define two key terms Internet and World Wide Web ("Web"). These terms are often used interchangeably, but it is their convergence that has resulted in the technological opportunities we see today.

The term Internet refers to the worldwide system of interconnected networks originally conceived of in the early 1960s and first implemented by DARPA as ARPANET in 1969. Highly subsidized, the Internet now connects millions of computers and tens of thousands of networks worldwide. The Web on the other hand was not introduced until 1991. Created by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN, the Web is a document navigation service based on hypertext documents with links to graphic images, audio, video, and text documents. Information accessible via the Web is stored on Web servers deployed over the Internet and is accessed via platform independent Web browser software such as Internet Explorer and Netscape. For the balance of this article, the term Internet refers to the combined capabilities of the Internet and the Web.

Over the last decade, businesses have increasingly utilized the Internet as a means of accessing and sharing static documents, generally published as HTML files and accessed via the Web. In fact, information sharing between businesses and consumers has grown over the past five years like no other time in history. But this represents only a small part of the story.

Organizations looking to leverage prior investments in technology and mitigate the risk associated with technology obsolescence and scalability must understand the Internet offers a defacto standard worldwide information infrastructure on which existing computing platforms can be cost-effectively connected and extended. Until recently, organizations have been constrained from moving mission critical business functions to the Internet due to limitations in security, bandwidth, and storage technologies. Such technological constraints are rapidly dissolving. Bandwidth and storage are increasingly available and more stable at a continuously decreasing price. Security technologies have evolved to the point where billions of dollars in financial transactions are safely executed daily over the Internet, and the federal government has begun establishing rules contemplating the electronic transmission of individual patient history and health care information over the Internet.

As a computing platform, the Internet has two key attributes not seen with traditional proprietary computing environments -- low cost and accessibility. As a result of the Internet's governmental and academic origins and a general acceptance that it possesses great public value, the Internet has historically been well subsidized. As a result, organizations wishing to take advantage of the Internet do not have to build the entire "information superhighway", but rather only have to fund the "on ramp" (i.e., Web-enable their business systems). As a result, economies of scale associated with leveraging the Internet's telecommunications infrastructure are available to all who wish to benefit.

The biggest challenge facing businesses attempting to deploy technology is accessibility. The interconnected nature of the Internet combined with the ubiquitous availability of Web browsers offers a response to this challenge. Workers, whether clerical or knowledge-based can have access to important business functions requiring the coordination and integration of documents, data, security and business context and have such access from virtually anywhere in the world and from any type of device able to run standard Web browser software.

The benefits of leveraging the Internet as a mission critical business system platform are significant. Businesses are able to develop and deploy substantial technology and functionality at a fraction of the cost because of the Internet's economies of scale, while workers from clerical to knowledge-based gain real-time, ubiquitous, contextual access to mission critical information and functionality without regard to physical location, information or access method.
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Author:Fisher, Todd
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 27, 2002
Words:703
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