The Internet, World Wide Web (WWW) and the information superhighway have penetrated the lives of millions of people all over the world. The Internet is a network made up of thousands of networks worldwide. These networks are composed of computers and other intelligent and active devices. Internet is an example of an automated mechanism, and there is no one in charge of the Internet.
Some organizations are entrusted with developing 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. It means that the remote server machine provides files and services to the user’s local client machine. The software can install on 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. This tutorial describes 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.
We’ll be covering the following topics in this tutorial:
History of The Internet
The Internet, www and Information Super Highway are terms that have a profound impact on the lives of millions of people all over the world. The widespread impact of the Internet across the globe could not be possible without the development of Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). It is the protocol suite developed specifically for the Internet. The Information Technology revolution of today cannot be achieved without this vast network of networks. It has become a fundamental part of the life of millions of people all over the world. All the services described above, basically, provide us with 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 processed by another computer, files sent to colleagues, and even more exotic forms of data.
During the 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 of all these technologies were that they could not communicate without the expensive deployment of communication devices. These were expensive and put users at the mercy of the monopoly of the vendor they would be dealing with. Consequently, multiple networking models were available due to the research and development efforts made by many interest groups. It paved the way for the development of another aspect of networking known as protocol layering. It 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 excellent know-how is that today, any group of users can find a physical network and an architectural model suitable for their specific needs. It 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.
It is now evident that organizations or users are using different network technology to connect computer over the network. The desire to share more and more information among homogeneous or heterogeneous interest groups 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 at 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 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 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 webpage. Alternatively, who has ever refused to eat at a particular restaurant or drink in a specific pub for no better reason than because there was no trace of it on the Internet?
Many businesses are continuing to trade successfully without any thought of the Internet, which 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, some companies thrive on the Internet. To be more accurate, they succeed because of the Internet. These are the small companies who, for the first time, can 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.
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 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 significant consultancy firm GarnerGroup (released in November 1999), 75% of all online ventures fail. However, the report did state, ‘The companies that succeed, from both the traditional and start-up background, will have worked out what is reality and what is hype.
Some businesses can thrive in the online environment. One such is Comic Shack, which was facing bankruptcy when it traded from a single shop but had since gone from strength to strength when 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, 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 for companies, not in the retail trade. There the standard methods of doing business will still be valid.
Here it is worth mentioning a comment occasionally made by some companies that they will only be doing business over the Internet in the future. Except for Internet creations, like online banks, for example, all companies must still be able to cater to customers who have no Internet connection. It must be apparent. Are they suggesting they would turn down an order simply because the buyer had no Internet account? Would they buy from a supplier who had a website preferred to one that offered a 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 significant financial stake in persuading other people to go online. It is not a mission statement, nor is it a statement of intent. It is just a company with a significant presence trying to use or abuse its position in the market for further gain, and it should be treated 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
It means that new business can be picked up reasonably painlessly by having a website where orders can be placed. 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 the actual value of that business?
It is the aspect of Internet life most quoted by those trying to sell their particular (web-related ) service. Usually, the example given is of a speciality baker or butcher(for reasons unexplained, butchers seem to be favourite). Except when the example looked at in 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 that, should there be a problem, the credit card company will refund them. Away from that line of work, businesses who went online 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 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 they also had their established retailers and dealers to consider while they too wanted to sell over the Internet. (Being a mail-order company Dell had no such worries.)
It highlights any company’s problem because those retailers and dealers were still needed even after the Internet business was established. 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 particular incentive to prospective customers to protect the more standard retail outlets. It was 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 critical.
Support Costs Will Be Reduced
The argument here is that instead of paying for promotional literature or catalogues and then paying 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 reducing 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. 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 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 fewer 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 24×7 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 regular 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. It 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
It is also valid to a certain extent. Some companies already have data processing centres in the third world that transmit the processed information over phone lines to the European or American head office. It gives any company the advantage of lower labour costs. Still, as it is usually done over dedicated phone lines, no one can claim that the Internet is involved.
To be more accurate, they should claim an example of electronic communication (which is separate from the Internet), although few people 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 split into much smaller branch offices covering less ground and equally a part of the corporate mainstream.
The Corporation Will Cease to Exist
It 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. It is often given a political spin by the commentators concerned who are more anxious to discuss the disintegration of society than the practicalities of the situation.
The only aspects worth considering are how people will be deprived of human contact, and therefore unable to form any 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.
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 exceptionally, 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.