by Dinesh Thakur Category: Services and Applications

The Internet, World Wide Web (WWW) and information super highway have penetrated into lives of millions of people all over the world. The Internet is a network made up of thousands of networks worldwide. Obviously, these networks are composed of computers and other intelligent and active devices. In fact, Internet is an example of self-regulating mechanism and there is no one in-charge of the Internet.

There are organizations which are entrusted to develop technical aspects of this network, but no governing body is in control. Private companies own the Internet backbone, through which Internet traffic or data flows in the form of text, video, graphics, sound image etc. All computers on the Internet communicate with one another using the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol architecture, abbreviated to TCP/IP, based on client/server architecture. This means that the remote server machine provides files and services to the user'~ local client machine. Software can be installed ort a client computer to take advantage of the latest access technology.

A wide variety of services, namely, electronic mail, file transfer, vast information resources, interest group membership, interactive collaboration, multimedia displays, real-time broadcasting, shopping opportunities, and many more are available on the Internet. To provide all these services, the Internet consists primarily of a variety of access protocols. Many of these protocols feature programs that allow users to search for and retrieve material made available by the protocol.

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCPIP) is the protocol suite developed for the Internet. In this chapter we describe how the Internet was formed, how it developed and how it is likely to develop in the future. We also look at the basic properties of TCP/IP.

History of The Internet

The Internet, www and Information Super Highway are terms which have deep impact in the lives of millions of people allover the world. The widespread impact of Internet across the globe could not be possible without the development of Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). This is the protocol suite developed specifically for the Internet. The Information Technology revolution of today cannot be achieved without this vast network of networks. This has become a fundamental part of life of millions of people allover the world. All the aforesaid services, basically, provide us the necessary backbone for information sharing in organizations and within common interest groups. That information may be in several forms. It can be notes and documents, data to be processed by another computer, files sent to colleagues, and even more exotic forms of data

During late 1960s and 1970s, organizations were inundated with many different LAN and WAN technologies such as packet switching technology, collision-detection local area networks, hierarchical enterprise networks, and many other excellent technologies. The major drawbacks with all these technologies were that they could not communicate to each other without expensive deployment of communication devices. These were not only expensive but also put users at the mercy of the monopoly of the vendor they would be dealing with. Consequently, multiple networking models were available as a result of the research and development efforts made by many interest groups. This paved the way for development of another aspect of networking known as protocol layering. This allows applications to communicate with each other. A complete range of architectural models was proposed and implemented by various research teams and computer manufacturers. The result of all this great know-how is that today, any group of users can find a physical network and an architectural model suitable for their specific needs. This includes cheap asynchronous lines with no other error recovery than a bit-per-bit parity function, through full-function wide area networks (public or private) with reliable protocols such as public packet switching networks or private SNA networks, to high-speed but limited-distance local area networks.

This is now evident that organizations or users are using different network technology to connect computer over the network. The desire of sharing more and more information among homogeneous or heterogeneous interest group motivated the researcher to devise the technology so that one group of users may extend its information system to another group of users who happen to have a different network technology and different network protocols. This necessity was recognized in the beginning of the 1970s by a group of researchers in the United States of America who hit upon a new principle popularly known as internetworking. Other organizations also became involved in this area of interconnecting networks, such as ITU-T (formerly CCITI) and ISO. All were trying to define a set of protocols, layered in a well-defined suite, so that applications would be able to communicate to other applications, regardless of the underlying network technology and the operating systems where those applications run.

Uses of Internet

No Company Will Be Able to Survive Without a Website

Anyone who claims this should be asked if they buy their morning newspaper or petrol for their car at the newsagent or filling station most convenient or the one with the best website. Should that be too trivial ask if anyone has ever refused to watch the latest Hollywood movie simply because it had no associated website. Alternatively, who has ever refused to eat at a particular restaurant or drink in a particular pub for no better reason than because there was no trace of it on the Internet.

There are any number of businesses continuing to trade successfully without any thought of the Internet and this will be true no matter how wired up the rest of the world becomes. Admittedly some of these are part of larger organizations that in all probability will have a website, but only as a small part of their overall business strategy not as a means of survival. The idea that a major oil company or brewery would collapse for lack of a website is laughable.

On the plus side, of course, there are companies which thrive on the Internet. To be more accurate they thrive because of the Internet. These are the small companies who, for the first time ever, are able to compete on level terms with their much bigger rivals. No longer does the business go to the company with the biggest marketing budget. Now the possession of a website means any company has a global presence.

In fact it is this that makes some people claim a website is necessary for survival. If small companies can take business away from big companies, which they can, then it follows that big companies must also have a website or else forever lose business. In other words everybody needs a website.

It has to be said there is some truth to this. Small companies can take business away from big companies’ thanks entirely to the Internet. The trick is in knowing where this applies. As already mentioned some companies will never need a website, others will. Once that is accepted decisions can be made.

Soon All Business Will be Done On-Line

If so it has yet to be proved. A case in point is the Argos shopping chain which set up business on the Internet in 1995; nine months later it had sold just twenty-two items. Not that this should be seen as a surprise,according to a report by the major consultancy firm GarnerGroup (released in November 1999) 75% of all on-line ventures fail. However the report did go on to state 'The companies which succeed, from both the traditional and start-up background, will have worked out what is reality and what is hype.

Obviously there are some businesses which can thrive in the on-line environment. One such is Comic Shack which was facing bankruptcy when it traded from a single shop, but which has since gone from strength to strength when it started selling its comics over the Internet. Interestingly the owner, David Shack, was in his sixties when he started his e-commerce venture. There is no ageism on the Internet.

A further example of this is the holiday industry where an increasing number of people are booking their holidays over the Internet instead of through a travel agent. Presumably they think that as the travel agent in effect books their package holiday using a computer link they might as well do it for themselves and cut out the middle man (A process referred to by Internet analysts as disintermediation.)

As for other companies; at a time when TV shopping channels have been available for years and catalogue shopping has been around for decades the sheer number and variety of retail outlets must say something about the way people prefer to spend their money. The Internet is unlikely to change that no matter how popular it gets. A fact which also holds true for companies not in the retail trade. There the standard methods of doing business will still be as valid.

Here it is worth mentioning a comment occasionally made by some companies to the effect that in future they will only be doing business over the Internet. With the exception of companies which are totally Internet creations, like on-line banks for example, all companies must still be able to cater for those customers who have no Internet connection. This must be obvious. Are they really suggesting they would turn down an order simply because the buyer had no Internet account? Would they really buy from a supplier who had a website in preference to one who offered better price, delivery and quality, but had no presence on the World Wide Web?

If the answer to these questions is yes perhaps the best advice is to insist on cash only transactions when dealing with them. Why risk becoming an unsecured creditor when they inevitably go bankrupt.

Back in the real world comments like that tend to be made by companies with a major financial stake in persuading other people to go on-line. It is not a mission statement nor is it a statement of intent. It is just a company with a major presence trying to use, or abuse, their position in the market for further gain and it should be treat as such.

Better yet, the next time someone makes a statement like that ask them about their plans to lay off their entire sales force. The answer should be more instructive than anything else they have to say.

The Customer Base Will Be Expanded

What this means is that by having a website where orders can be placed new business can be picked up fairly painlessly. While this is true there is an old accountant's saying that should be remembered: 'Turnover equals vanity; Profits equals sanity'. If the cost of doing business over the Internet is more than the profit it generates then what is the real value of that business?

This is the aspect of Internet life most quoted by those people trying to sell their particular (webrelated ) service. Usually the example given is of a specialty baker or butcher(for reasons unexplained butchers seem to be favorite) except when the example is looked at in any detail the amount of business generated by the Internet is a tiny fraction of the overall turnover. Also remember that these companies deal directly with the public who buy in small amounts and pay by credit card secure in the knowledge that, should there be a problem, the credit card company will refund them. Away from that line of work businesses who went on-line hoping for bigger orders from other companies have a very different story to tell.

Here the success story usually quoted is Dell Computers who set up their own website - and in less than thirty-six months sales from that site amounted to over $1 billion. However, the other computer manufacturers fared differently because, while they too wanted to sell over the Internet, they also had their established retailers and dealers to consider. (Being a mail order company Dell had no such worries.)

This highlights a problem any company could have because those retailers and dealers were still needed even after the Internet business was established and yet no dealer would be prepared to accept the loss of business that would inevitably follow if the website could offer a better deal than them.

In practice this meant that the website had to offer no special incentive to prospective customers just to protect the more standard retail outlets. This was obviously important and should serve as a warning to any other companies. Even in the case of Dell the Internet trade accounted for just 15% of its turnover with the other manufacturers recording even less, making those dealers that much more important.

Support Costs Will Be Reduced

The argument here is that instead of having to pay for promotional literature or catalogues and then pay even more to maintain telephone support lines all the information can be published on the World Wide Web. That way anyone who needs a new catalogue, for example, could download the latest, constantly updated, version of it.

Similarly if they need help the answers to the most common problems could be stored on a web page to be viewed at their leisure. (In the language of the Internet they would be called FAQ's or Frequently Asked Questions.)

While all of this is true the chance of anyone being able to reduce their support costs is practically zero. Customers will still want sales brochures and no one can rely on them having an Internet account so they will still have to be printed - and paid for. In much the same way anyone with a problem not covered by the web page, or, again, without an Internet account will still need telephone support.

From this it follows that, rather than fall, service costs will actually rise by the price of keeping that web page. Against this, of course, is the fact that the number of support calls might decrease (and the operative word is might) which means less people would be needed to handle them. That would, naturally, reduce support costs, but as no one could predict or calculate these savings it would be better not to expect them.

Even so, while a website might not reduce the cost of service it would undoubtedly increase the level of that service. By being available on what is usually referred to as a 24x7 basis (twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week) a website with its most common questions and answers, FAQ's, would be available to any customer well outside normal office hours.

New Suppliers Will Be Found

A simple search through the Internet might find alternative suppliers capable of providing a better degree of service than those currently being used. This is true, but those same suppliers should also be in everything from trade directories to the yellow pages which makes the value of searching the Internet entirely debatable.

New Ways of Working Will Be Found

This is also true to a certain extent. Some companies already have data processing centers in the third world who then transmit the processed information over phone lines to the European or American head office. This obviously gives any company doing it the advantage of lower labour costs, but as it is usually done over dedicated phone lines no one can really claim that the Internet is involved.

To be more accurate they should claim it an as example of electronic communication (which is totally separate from the Internet) although few people are prepared to make that distinction.

Away from such heady heights it is true to say that the easy access to information which a company website provides, plus the communication facilities suddenly available through email can make small satellite offices a much more viable proposition. Because of this a new office could be set up in any part of the world, no matter how remote, and yet still be fully integrated into the corporate structure. Alternatively one large office responsible for company activities over a wide geographical area could be split into much smaller branch offices covering less ground, but being equally a part of the corporate mainstream.

The Corporation Will Cease to Exist

This is one of those apocalyptic visions so beloved by the media. The idea is that soon everybody will work from home and communicate entirely by email so there will be no need for company offices, or even physical contact. Very often this is given a political spin by the commentators concerned who are more anxious to discuss the disintegration of society than the practicalities of the situation.

To them the only aspects worth considering are how people will be deprived of human contact, and therefore unable to form any kind of society, or the division of the world into the disenfranchised poor who have no access to the technology or the so-called information rich, invariably described as the Alphas.

Needless to say any such posturing should be regarded as the politics it undoubtedly is and ignored by anyone intent on living in the real world. In practical terms it will never happen; all companies rely on ad hoc meetings or the fact that people will be immediately available to answer a question or help solve a problem. Take that away and the only way the corporation would cease to exist would be caused by bankruptcy not technology.

For anyone still not convinced the remedy is simple. Next time some newspaper or magazine publishes an article along these lines write to the editor asking how far advanced their plans are for dismantling the company. Given that media organizations, and those in the print industry particularly, should be prime candidates for this treatment as articles and editorials can be sent in electronically the answer should be illuminating.

By now anyone reading this could be thinking that it is fanatically opposed to the Internet when nothing could be further from the truth. The Internet can be a fascinating place in its own right and a business opportunity so full of potential that everyone has to take it seriously. Having studied it they might decide it is unsuitable for their company or ways of working, but they still must seriously consider it.

About Dinesh Thakur

Dinesh ThakurDinesh Thakur holds an B.C.A, MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA, CCNP, A+, SCJP certifications. Dinesh authors the hugely popular blog. Where he writes how-to guides around Computer fundamental , computer software, Computer programming, and web apps. For any type of query or something that you think is missing, please feel free to Contact us.

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