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What is an Online Business Infrastructure?
Online business infrastructure, or e-business infrastructure, refers to the hardware, network, and software applications utilized by an online business to deliver services to workers, partners, and customers. The location of hardware, network, and software applications as well as how they are organized are also aspects of e-business infrastructure. In fact, a key decision in infrastructure management is which of these elements are located within the company and which are managed externally.
For example, many online businesses will decide to hire a third party to be responsible for their customer relationship management or supply chain management. This would mean that while the company is directly responsible for database management or digital storage, they partner with another company to handle customer service calls and product shipping. Deciding which components are handled directly and which are handled by a third party will have major impacts on a business’s day-to-day operations and business agility.
Key Things to Know About Online Business Infrastructure
The most important thing to understand about online business infrastructure is how it impacts the success and operations of your business. A modernized e-business infrastructure will improve your company’s business agility and user experience. Business agility is a brand’s ability to adapt and respond to their client’s needs as they evolve. A well-made online business infrastructure will allow your business to gather information about consumer trends and adjust your business operations more quickly.
A good e-business infrastructure will also improve your company’s overall user experience. This means that both employees and customers will have a simpler time navigating the architecture of your website and completing their transactions. An improved user experience will lead to more productivity and enhanced brand reputation.
Components of Online Business Infrastructure
The components of an online business infrastructure can be divided into five different levels. Each layer of components has specific interfaces that separate it from other layers. Here are the five layers of components in online business infrastructure, and examples of what interfaces could be found in them.
- Layer 1: E-business Services or Applications Layer
This layer includes customer relations management, supply chain management, data mining, and content management systems. Examples of this are employee resources and a USPS shipping calculator.
- Layer 2: Systems Software Layer
Web browser and server software as well as the standards related to them, networking software, and database management systems are all grouped in layer two. Google Chrome, Windows 11, Mac OS, and Slack are all examples of layer two interfaces.
- Layer 3: Transport or Network Layer
Layer three encompasses an online business’s physical network and transport standards (transmission TCP/IP).
- Layer 4: Storage or Physical Layer
Permanent magnetic storage on web servers or temporary storage in a computer’s memory makes up layer four. Any data stored for business operations can be grouped into layer four.
- Layer 5: Content and Data Layer
Web content for internal and external internet sites, customer data, transaction data, and clickstream data are all considered part of layer five. Any content that makes up your company’s website and the data related to that content is considered to be part of layer five.
The best way to explain the organization of the five component layers is through an example. Let’s say an employee of an online business wants to schedule a holiday. The process begins with the employee accessing a specific human resources application that has been created for booking vacation days. This application would be considered to be a layer one interface. To access that application the employee used a web browser such as Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox via their operating system whether it be Windows or Mac OS. Both web browsers and operating systems are considered to be layer two interfaces. The software used to schedule a holiday will then transfer the information of the holiday request across a network or transport layer, which is a layer three interface. The information will then be stored in either a computer’s memory (RAM) or in long-term magnetic storage on a web server, which are both examples of layer four interfaces. The content that makes up the web pages viewed by the employee and the data related to the employee’s holiday request both belong in layer five.
Do’s And Don’ts
Design Your Infrastructure for Flexibility and Speed
As previously mentioned, the entire purpose of a well-made online business infrastructure is to enable your business to be flexible. Remember that customer demands will inevitably change, and your business needs to be able to adapt to them quickly in order to stay relevant.
Evaluate Your Organization’s Current Infrastructure
Evaluating the current state of your organization’s infrastructure is the first step in modernizing it. Decide what you like about the infrastructure already implemented in the organization and what leaves some to be desired. Once you have chosen where to focus your effort you can begin modernizing those specific areas.
Rely on Aging Hardware
Technology is undergoing rapid and continuous improvement. This means that hardware can quickly become outdated and incapable of maintaining a decent online business infrastructure. Update your hardware regularly when your organization’s budget allows for it.
Rip and Replace Legacy Systems
Tearing out older systems in a company’s online organization structure and replacing them with newer systems that have been built from scratch does have its benefits. But those benefits are usually outweighed by the overwhelming amount of time and money that need to be invested in the process. Instead, it may be better to choose fully automated cloud migration to save on costs.