FOR INTRANETS AND THE INTERNET
Methodologies for a Connected World
By Clive Finkelstein, Managing Director
Copyright © 1996 Information Engineering Services Pty
Clive Finkelstein - "Information
Engineering for Intranets and the Internet"
We are all used to working in an environment of change, but
the pace of change in the IT industry today is unprecedented! It
affects all areas and in turn - other industries. The catalyst of
this change is the Internet and Corporate Intranets, and the new
opportunities that they present. What does this mean to
organizations that must still operate in this period of rapid
change? How can you plan? What direction should you take? What
technologies and products will survive, and which ones will
disappear? What impact does Information Engineering have in this
environment? How can it help you?
Back to Contents.
In the IT industry many managers look for the next silver
bullet to help them overcome the impact of technology change.
Does the answer lie with GUIs, or CASE tools, or Open Systems, or
Standards, or High-Speed Networks? Is the answer Client/Server,
or Data Warehouse, or BPR, or Repositories, or Business Rules? Or
is it O-O (whether O-O analysis, or design or programming - take
The answer is all of these
and none of them! There is
no silver bullet! For we are now seeing a fundamental change in
the rules that we have previously relied upon to plan our future
directions. I refer of course to the Internet and its internal
corporate counterpart, the Intranet.
We are now seeing a
fundamental change in the rules that we have previously relied
upon to plan our future directions.
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A Status-Update on the Internet
Consider the changes that the Internet has wrought since early
1995, and particularly in the last few months.
- Web browsers are now available for any platform and
operating system, based on an open architecture interface
using HyperText Markup Language (HTML).
- The release of the Java language by Sun, with Java code
(as applets) now able to be automatically downloaded from
Web servers to execute on a browser running as a Web
client. Java is a platform-independent language which is
interpreted as byte code by the browser, so providing an
open architecture environment for the execution of Java
applets (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Java applets are compiled to byte code and are
referenced by the HTML web pages that use them. Both reside on
the web server, ready to be downloaded when requested by a web
client. The Java code is executed as interpreted code on the
client, or instead as compiled code using a
"just-in-time" compiler operating as the Java byte code
is downloaded to the client.
(Diagram © 1996 IDG Communications, Inc
from an article in Infoworld.)
- The growing acceptance by the industry of Java as a
mainstream language: not just for applets on web clients
but also for web servers, data base servers; and soon
also as a complete development language in the operating
system - coming to Windows, OS/2, Apple Harmony (System
7.5 upgrade with OpenDoc) and Copland (System 8). Many
development tools are emerging for Java with
"just-in-time" compilers to improve execution
performance, such as: Borland Latte, Symantec Cafe and
- Microsoft attempted to use their dominant desktop market
share to establish Visual Basic (VB) Script as a
competitor to Java. A similar attempt was made by
Netscape, with their share of the browser market, to
(a subset of Java) in Netscape Navigator 2.0. Both
companies have now realised that the impetus behind Java
gives them no alternative but to provide
This benefits all the industry.
- Most DBMS products are now moving to use Java and HTML:
to accept input as HTML direct from Web forms, then carry
out relevant DBMS queries and generate dynamic HTML Web
pages to provide output in response. DBMS products to
provide this capability include: DB2, Oracle, Sybase, SQL
Server, SQLBase, CA-OpenIngres and Informix. Their focus
is on the Internet, but more particularly on the
- Client/Server development tools are also moving to Java,
with transparent access to the Internet and corporate
Intranets by applications built using these tools:
generating dynamic HTML output to display transaction
results. Vendors are developing new tools to provide this
capability, with backward compatibility for applications
using their earlier tools. Products include: Powersoft
Optima++ (with compatibility for Powerbuilder); Centura
(previously Gupta - with compatibility for SQLWindows);
and Borland Latte (with backward compatibility also for
Delphi and C++). Their market is the Internet, but also
more particularly the Intranet.
- Data Warehouse products are emerging with an internet
interface, accepting HTML input and generating HTML
output. Data Mining products, and Screen Scraper tools
providing GUI interfaces for Legacy Systems, will also
become internet-aware. These latter tools accept 3270 I/O
data streams and dynamically translate them to, or from,
HTML to display on the screen; thus they provide a
transparent HTML interface for easy migration also of
3270 mainframe legacy systems to the Internet and
- The Internet is based on the TCP/IP communications
protocol and Domain Naming System (DNS). Novell,
Microsoft and other network vendors now realise TCP/IP is
also becoming the network protocol standard for the
corporate Intranet and Dynamic Domain Naming System
(DDNS) will be a transparent Internet / Intranet Network
Directory Services standard. The communications standards
used for the Internet thus also will become part of the
corporate Intranet. This enables low-cost Virtual Private
Networks to be established using the Internet as the
backbone, or high bandwidth will continue to be provided
using dedicated private networks as part of the Intranet.
The pace of change over the last few months, brought about by
the Internet, has been unprecedented in our industry. In turn,
the Internet and the IT industry are bringing change to many
Back to Contents.
Consider now BPR and the percentage of BPR projects that have
failed: generally acknowledged to be 60% - 70% !!! (Of course, an
optimist might say that 30% - 40% have succeeded!) In my article:
"Business Re-Engineering: Three Steps to Success" - in
part published by Data Base Newsletter (Jan-Feb, 1994) - I
discussed reasons for this high failure rate. These are
The complete article: "Business
Re-Engineering: Three Steps to Success"
is on our Web Site.
Read it online, or download it as a Word document from our White
One reason why many BPR projects fail is that they do not have
sufficient senior management support to allocate resources that
are essential for project success, and to keep those resources
allocated to the project until it completes. However the major
reason for failure is that many BPR projects focus only on
processes - ignoring business plans on which those processes
depend, and the business information needed to support
decision-making. To re-engineer business processes no longer
required because of changed strategic plans is an exercise in
futility! In the article I discussed the three steps to BPR
success: ensuring that Business Processes and Business
Information both support the Business Plans set for the
organisation (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Business Processes and Business
Information must both support the Business Plans that are set for
the organisation. This is achieved using Business-driven
Business Re-Engineering (BRE) is a superset of Business
Process Reengineering (BPR). It structures Business Plans,
Business Information and Business Processes so that they are
mutually supportive. Business-driven Information Engineering
helps you achieve this.
Back to Contents.
Close alignment of
business plans, business information and business processes will
be vital for survival in the years ahead.
Using Information Engineering to Migrate
to the Internet and Intranets
Business-driven Information Engineering (IE), together with
the Visible Advantage Universal CASE tool, Visible
Advisor Methodology product and the Visible Universal
Model, help enterprises to align their information systems
and business processes with strategic business plans at all
management levels. Visible Advantage supports data base
generation for any SQL-dialect RDBMS, providing interfaces for
many Client/Server development tools. The Universal Model offers
a fast-start development capability, easily tailored to an
enterprise's unique business strategies. Organisations can thus
leave all options open: selecting the DBMS products and
development tools most appropriate to their development
directions; and rapidly building data bases and systems that
address current and future business needs.
All areas of an organization must follow the plans set by
management. This has always been an important goal - but the
competitive, rapid-change environment of tomorrow will accept
nothing less: close alignment of business plans, business
information and business processes will be vital for survival in
the years ahead.
The only thing stable today
is CHANGE itself.
Organizations must therefore structure themselves to respond
rapidly to change. They must above all change to a market-driven
and customer-driven focus, rather than be organization-driven or
product-driven as in the past. These customers may be external to
the business, or they may be internal customers who use products
or services provided by business areas elsewhere in the
enterprise. New business process opportunities can emerge from
this customer-oriented focus, with new processes crossing
previous functional boundaries. These cross-functional processes
lead to dramatic breakthroughs with re-engineered business
processes. They are automatically identified by Visible
Advantage, through data dependency Cluster Analysis.
Many business processes have evolved from manual processes
where required data was provided separately for each relevant
business area. Thus redundant data versions have evolved with
each process that needed that data, dissipated through the
enterprise. And when the data changed, every redundant data
version had to be updated so all versions were up-to-date. When
these manual processes were automated, our legacy systems also
implemented the redundant data versions, using Data Flow Diagrams
to document and implement the data flows also needed to keep the
redundant data up-to-date.
But if you have redundant data, you also have redundant
processes to maintain each of those redundant data versions. In
fact when data is structured non-redundantly, many of these
redundant processes disappear. Data continues to flow between the
organization and the outside world; but it no longer flows inside
the enterprise to update redundant data versions - as they no
longer need to exist. The way an organization has to operate when
data must flow to keep redundant data up-to-date and consistent
is quite different from the more efficient way it can operate
with only one valid version of data: which, when updated, is then
available to all who are authorized to access it.
IE also results in the development of Object-Oriented logic,
building reusable business processes as business objects: such as
Customer, Product, Order, or Market. These can be implemented
using Client/Server development tools, or they can be coded using
O-O languages such as C++ or Java, or using traditional languages
such as COBOL or C.
Information Engineering enables business experts and systems
experts to work together in a design partnership. Using the
strategic, tactical and operational business plans set by
management, IE defines integrated, non-redundant data bases that
are shared throughout the enterprise. This in turn leads to
simpler business processes: with re-engineered cross-functional
processes that use the Internet and Intranet, focus on customers
and benefit from new business opportunities emerging from a
cross-functional process emphasis.
operating systems, DBMS and client/server products will
disappear: transparently replaced by an open architecture
environment based on HTML and Java, but continuing to use those
DBMS and Client/Server tools on which our applications depend.
What does this mean, when we also consider the Internet and
Intranet? Most DBMS and Client/Server Development tools are
moving to interface directly and transparently with the Internet
and Intranet. Web browsers, Java, HTML, the Internet and Intranet
will all provide an open-architecture interface for most
operating system platforms. The previous incompatibilities
between operating systems, DBMS products, client/server tools,
LANs, WANs and EDI will disappear: replaced by an open
architecture environment based on HTML and Java, but
transparently continuing to use the DBMS and Client/Server tools
on which our applications depend.
The open-architecture environment enjoyed by the audio
industry - where any CD or tape will run on any player, which can
be connected to any amplifier and speakers - has long been the
holy grail of the IT industry. Finally, once the industry has
made the transition over the next few years to the
open-architecture environment brought about by Internet and
Intranet technologies, we will be close to achieving that holy
The client software will be the web browser, operating as a
"fat" client by automatically downloading Java code
when needed. Client/server tools will typically offer two
options, each able to be executed by any terminal which can run
browsers or HTML-aware code:
- Transaction processing using client input via web forms,
with dynamic HTML web pages presenting output results in
a standard web browser format, or
- Transaction processing using client input via
client/server screens, with designed application-specific
output screens built by client/server development tools.
This optional client environment will recognise HTML, and
will dynamically translate and present that output using
the designed application-specific screens.
These client/server development tools will provide transparent
access to data base servers using HTML-access requests, whether
accessing operational data or Data Warehouses. In turn the data
base servers will process these requests - transparently using
conventional languages, or Java, to access new or legacy data
bases as relevant. These may be separate servers, or instead may
be mainframes executing legacy systems.
Web servers will then operate as application servers,
executing Java code or conventional code as part of the
middle-tier of three-tier client/server logic distribution, with
data base servers also executing Java code or conventional code
as the third logic tier.
Back to Contents.
So What of the Future?
Development will be easier: many of the incompatibilities we
previously had to deal with will be a thing of the past. Open
architecture development using the technologies of the Internet
will also be part of the Intranet: able to use any PC and any
hardware, operating system, DBMS, network, client/server tool or
Data Warehouse. This will be the direction that the IT
industry will take for the foreseeable future.
New reengineering opportunities will emerge from immediate
access to customers and suppliers via the Internet. But this also
means that - unless corrected - the chaos of redundant data
that exists in most enterprises
will now be visible to the
world! This will be apparent from the front window of each
organization's web site. Not by what can be done, but rather by
what they cannot do when compared with their competitors.
With the Internet, unless
corrected - the chaos of redundant data that exists in most
will now be visible to the world!
So how should your organization operate when your customers
have immediate access with the click of a mouse to you
to your competitors? If your organization cannot meet the needs
of those customers, they will leave you just as fast - also with
a click of a mouse
and go to your competitors!
Hardware, software, networks and the IT industry are all
rushing to embrace the Internet and Intranets. What is the next
silver bullet? Is it an: Object-Oriented, BPR, Open, CASE, GUI,
Client / Server, Repository of Networked Business Rules Data
Or instead should we use Information Engineering to develop
integrated, well-managed, non-redundant data bases and
object-oriented systems that ensure business information and
business processes are all closely aligned with business plans -
able to be delivered seamlessly across the Intranet and the
Internet? If so, we had better start getting our organizational
house in order NOW !!!
The benefits that Information Engineering offers have never
been clearer. IE helps organisations achieve corporate business
and systems flexibility, with the rapid-change capability that is
vital for enterprise success in the coming competitive
Back to Contents.
For more information on Information Engineering tools and
services in this paper, contact:
Visible Systems Corporation
201 Spring Street Lexington MA 02421 USA
Phone: +1-781-778-0200 · Fax +1-781-778-0208
Web Site: http://www.visible.com
Information Engineering Services Pty Ltd
PO Box 246, Hillarys Perth WA 6923 Australia
Phone: +61-8-9402-8300 Fax: +61-8-9402-8322
Web Site: http://www.ies.aust.com/
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