Balancing of Heterogeneity and Interoperability in E-Business Networks: The Role of Standards and Protocols

Balancing of Heterogeneity and Interoperability in E-Business Networks: The Role of Standards and Protocols

Frank-Dieter Dorloff, Ejub Kajan
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/jebr.2012100102
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To reach this interoperability visibility and common understanding must be ensured on all levels of the interoperability pyramid. This includes common agreements about the visions, political and legal restrictions, clear descriptions about the collaboration scenarios, included business processes and-rules, the type and roles of the Documents, a common understandable vocabulary, etc. To do this in an effective and automatable manner, ICT based concepts, frameworks and models have to be defined, that have to be known and understood, accepted and that have to provide additional e-benefits for all participating partners. In addition, ICT systems, tools and other instruments must be compliant with all the restrictions defined by the interoperability pyramid and they have to support the work properly and efficient, and last but not least they have to ensure trust and minimize e-business risks. Nowadays, many profitable and well working individual solutions on the market may be found. But there still is a gap for more general and well working interoperability solutions. This article shows the state of the Art in Research and Practice in building, managing and maintaining E-Business solutions under the focus to enhance interoperability based on standards, protocols and other helpful concepts, instruments and examples. To provide better understanding for non-specialists, also, the authors systemize the complex and interdisciplinary content and offer additional helpful explanations.
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E-Business is embedded in an open environment with many participating business entities (people, enterprises, government institutions, etc.). Each of them should have a chance for free and open E-business, regardless of the volume and the type of business they are running, where they are sited, and independent of local time, etc. In front of such fair goals there were, are and will be many obstacles for E-Business varying from country to country, from enterprise to enterprise and from person to person. These obstacles may be simple described by the two words “total heterogeneity.”

The areas of heterogeneity in E-Business may be classified by five categories, communication infrastructure, computing resources, business entities (enterprises), society, and standards, and all are mutually dependent, as shown in Figure 1. E-Business standards are important and helpful but unfortunately, the real situation in E-Business is far too complex, that it can be solved by standards alone. Due to the heterogeneity in E-Business arena may arise many and unexpected events and problems which afford additional and even new concepts, models and solutions.

Figure 1.

The total heterogeneity of E-Business arena


Thus let us address firstly communication and the heterogeneity of infrastructure. Much of Internet users may ask why is that? Internet protocols are well defined by their interfaces, including all rules known in advance, and they work, and may be confirmed by billions of Internet users. Thus, where is heterogeneity in communication? Let us remember “Birth of Broadband” document (ITU, 2003), the open document issued by ITU, that defined 512 Kb/s as entry speed over the network to be qualified as broadband. Many of the readers of this article will not get the point after all. They probably enjoy their Internet lives on GB backbone, but let us ask Ethiopians, for example, what they want, food or broadband?

Another heterogeneity issue of E-Business is growing by social discrepancies between societies, people living in different countries, and other social circumstances that may differ a lot. The deeper view of these aspects regarding developing economies can be found in Travica et al. (2007) and Roubiah et al. (2009). Such analyzes that focus on undeveloped world are hard to be found. Heterogeneities of computing resources, data, business processes and existing standards will be discussed later.

Keeping the total heterogeneity in mind we aim to get a common understanding and an overlook about the instruments and ways to achieve an interoperable and efficient E-Business Thus we provide a systemization aid which shall help to separate and to discuss the manifold problem fields of E-Business, its concepts, projects, models and solutions. Each of the four areas: E-Business as a Market, Understanding and Advanced Modeling E-Business, E-Business Standardization and last not least Converting, Customizing, and Enhancing in E-Business, represents one special aspect of the phenomena E-Business. These aspects should not be seen separate because EB-solutions, theoretical and all the more practical ones need knowledge and instruments from some or even from all of these aspects.

All aforementioned aspects highly relay on technological enablers also. Some of important that we must take into account are XML and E-Business Integration Standards based on it, UBL, Web services, Semantic Web technologies, such as RDF, OWL, OWL-S, Web Service Modeling Ontology, etc., Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, Social Networks, Internet of Things, Security and Trust Technologies, etc. These technologies supported a significant progress in E-Business interoperability, but also set up many new research challenges, some of them can be found in (Kajan, 2011; Kajan, Dorloff, & Bedini, 2012). In fact, many arguments and forecasts in this article are based on research efforts and results presented in these two books.

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