Although most of us take information for granted, good information is easy to come by. Let’s investigate the difference between data and information, the characteristics of good information and the process of transforming data into useful information. To make sound decisions managers need reliable, accurate data that can be transformed into information. Organisations use many methods to collect data , including survey ,interviews, documents reading and even brain-wave monitoring. Sophisticated voice activated technology is available that allows people to store data merely by speaking into a computer. Today it is widely recognized that information systems knowledge is essential for managers because most organisations need information systems to survive and prosper. Information systems can help companies to extend reach to faraway location, offer new product and services, reshape jobs and work flows, and perhaps profoundly change the way they conduct business.
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The past decade has seen a rigorous change in the way we understand and use Information Technology within a business context. Advancements in the field of research and development has led to technologies such as; distributed computing, content management, data mining and processing, all of which fulfil a range of business needs. The move from localised computing platforms to distributed web technologies has been caused by, among other factors, the take-up of commodity computer and network components based on faster hardware and sophisticated software.
About The Project
The objective of this report is to analyse and compare a specific category of open source content management systems, within the context of small to medium businesses; this specific category is about web portals. The project aims to create a comprehensive comparison which deals with the specific requirements of small to medium businesses only. Thus, providing a clear understanding of the current trends within the commercial sector and the open source community.
This report involves a comparison between existing open source, web portal content management systems. The comparison is based on a set of business requirements which represent the needs of small to medium businesses, which aims to find an open source solution as an alternative to commercial solutions.
Due to the nature of this subject, this report assumes that the reader has some understanding about Information Technology.
Content From A Business Perspective
Computers where initially created to perform time-consuming or complex mathematical computations and in many ways replace human labour. Boiko (2001) describes the computer model as follows: “If you can reduce a problem to a series of simple mechanical operations on numbers and logical entities (entities that are either true of false), it is amenable to solution by a computer”.
At their lowest level, computers process data. The data processed by computers at a low level is not immediately readable or understandable, because it is made to be understood by the computer only. This data is used to perform a set of operations as described above.
The fact that computers are data-processing machines makes it hard to process content, which by definition is not just data. Technology has evolved over the years and computers are now required to perform computations on content while retaining their human meaning.
Electronic Commerce ,Electronic Business, And Digital Relationship
The changes we have just described represent new ways of conducting business electronically both inside and outside the farm that can ultimately result in the creation of digital firms. Increasingly, the internet is providing the underlying technology for these changes. The internet can link thousands of organisations into a single network creating the foundation for a vast digital marketplace. A digital market is an information system that links together many buyers and sellers to exchange information, products, services and payments. Through computers and networks, these systems function like electronic intermediaries, with lowered cost for typical marketplace transactions such as matching buyers and sellers establishing prices ordering goods and paying bills. Buyers sellers can complete purchase and sale transactions digitally regardless of their location.
New Opportunities With Technology
Although information systems are creating many exciting opportunities for both businesses and individuals, they are also a source of new problems, issues and challenges for managers. In this course we will learn about both the challenges and opportunities information systems pose and we will be able to use information technology to enrich our learning experience. New technologies open up far more possibilities for reproducing previously published work online than we can afford to pursue, so we have to pick and choose the most useful ones for you, our audience. The Journal would like to gather and benefit from all of the ideas, suggestions, and hard work that readers are willing to provide. Constructive technology assessment (CTA) differs from other technology assessment methods by emphasizing implementation and development of new technologies over a simple assessment of those technologies’ potential impact. CTA, which was developed in Denmark and the Netherlands, seeks to moderate the impact of potentially damaging technologies while taking full advantage of beneficial technologies. Nowadays, the development of integrated circuit (IC) industry and scientific researchers rely more and more on the nanofabrication technologies. Nanoimprint lithography (NIL) has been included on the ITRS lithography roadmap for 32nm, 22nm and 16nm nodes. However, there are numerous other applications for NIL. This patterning technique shows great potential in fabrication of nanostructures at all.
Metadata – Encapsulation Of Content
Processing such content will produce the required results for the human user.
Those results will contain an abstract meaning that can only be interpreted by a human user.
Defining data with information and making it into content is a process similar to the operations performed in every day situations. For example, searching for a book in a library or finding a movie in a video store. Both operations have the similarity of providing information about other information. A library, offers a computerised search engine that searches through categories of “author” and “title”, while the video store may search for “actor” and “year of release”. Therefore, a room full of books may be seen as a pile of data, while the same room with a categorised search engine may be seen as real content. The books become more than just data, because they have been given a description.
The method of content description is called metadata. Metadata is data about data, which defines the human aspect of content. Metadata first appeared on the web when the immense amount of data over the internet became impossible to process or to even understand. Some of the leading technologies and standards on metadata are seen.
Metadata technologies are themselves based on published internet standards.
This method of creating a new standard based on another existing standard is very useful within businesses in order to make the exchange of content as smooth as possible. The leading standard technologies are eXtensible Markup Language (XML), which defines the Resource Description Framework (RDF) syntax as recommended by the W3C. Building on top of metadata and XML, are a number of advanced technologies and project.
Concurrent Changes Management
Project completion skew occurs once the team has grown into a substantial number of developers, at which point they are all working on different parts of the project, possibly in small groups. These small groups usually work on diverse activities separated from each other or sometimes in conjunction. As a result, each group will be developing, integrating and testing their work separately, before committing their work into the complete project. These groups will also be working under different schedules. This implies that a group may be starting its work while another is getting ready to commit theirs .
Structure Of The Comparison
Each business has its own set of requirements for a CMS solution, which depend on various parameters such as; the size of the business, field of operation, type of managed data and target customers. It is highly unlikely that a single product will have all the required functionality. As a result, this report tries to identify potential products which are scalable and expandable.
- Data repository
- Revision control
- User interface
- User management
Applications are about general functionality which compliment the entire CMS solution. Availability of the development API allows developers to expand the existing functionality and add custom processes per business requirements. Marketing and advertising features allow the website to display banner advertising or offer opt-in permission marketing forms. Localisation and multi-language support for all documents and processes. Time-based event functions, like scheduling. Site-wide searching engine which allows transparent searches over different content. Finally, e-commerce functionality which allows the system to perform online transactions.
Data repository is about flexibility in content storage. Information is an asset to every business, proper management of the data storage can be an advantage. A CMS solution may use multiple storage methods, including a Relational DataBase Management System (RDBMS) and Network File System (NFS) or other file system based storage. Apart from the storage medium, it is also important to use a standards compliant storage format such as XML. In particular, XML provides transformation services and content validation along with the split between content, format and business logic.
Deployment can be one of the most important features from a business per-spective. Medium to large scale systems use multiple servers for fault tolerance and improved availability. A CMS product’s ability to scale through multiple servers gives the extra advantage for reliability. Replication is also an issue, the flow of updates that go from testing into production should be able to replicate reliably and with roll back support, as discussed in section
Finally, multiple output formats can increase the target audience, for example; by providing mobile phone access via SMS or WAP.
Integration deals with the every day management of the system. Metadata management via content classification systems which enable arbitrary data to become useful information assets for the business. Information can be used along with 3rd party web applications, such as log analysers and spam filters. Data conversion, allows users to publish or submit data in different format from the one used to publish their data, for example PDF to HTML conversion.
Integration is also about compliance with the internet standards published by the W3C such as; HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.0/1.1. Based on those standards are the requirements for compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 chapter 50 (HMSO 1995) which came into effect in the United Kingdom. This Act enforces new rules for websites to create content which is accessible by disabled people. Standards compliance means that a CMS product must be able to generate code that is compliant with the Web Accessibility Initiative guidelines.
Revision control, as seen in section 2.3.1, is about management of changes, while keeping track of known milestones and working versions of the entire web site development and content. Revision control allows users to keep track of changes, while protecting them against overlapping changes by other users.
Roll back functionality gives the user a chance to return to a known working copy of data, which also makes it easy to compare changes over time.
User interface is not just about the client “visual” interface. The user interface is a collection of interface features which help the user or administrator to effectively manage the system. Interface tools enhance the control of processes, some of these tools are; HTML forms, WYSIWYG content editor and document linking. The user interface should provide the choice between high and low level editing, either edit the code directly, or provide a suitable interface which generates the required code.
User management is about access and control of the system. The system should allow for 3rd party authentication, such as; SQL database, LDAP, NIS/YP, PAM. In addition, the interface should provide adequate user management control, for example; system-wide user modification.
Workflow is a collaboration process for the development and maintenance of business assets which involve steps such as; varied information types, cross departmental staff and functions based on a submit/review/approve steps.
As seen in section 2.3.4, workflow is important to clearly define processes which perform specific functions, with various dependencies between them.
These functions automate routing of information, review and finally approve changes.
Open Source Software
This report deals with certain types of free software; open source content management systems. Therefore, it is very important to define the term free software, because the concept itself is ambiguous. A wide range of software is distributed as “free” because it does not cost anything to download or use.
However the source code is not made available or the software is distributed with a restrictive license. Binary or source code distributions could be copyrighted and covered by a license agreement, which could hold a range of few to extreme restrictions, like a disclaimer of reliability.
“Free software” is a matter of liberty, not price.
The Open Source Model
- The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
- The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your
needs. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbour.
- The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements
to the public, so that the whole community benefits. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
Requirements of free software
Restrictions on these ‘free’ software come with licenses which; prohibit its use or require a fee for commercial user, prohibit or limit redistribution, including redistributing modified versions. Some licenses also require redistribution of derived works to use the same license as the original product or even release the modified source code. A few licenses also discriminate against individuals or groups.
The term free software is widely used in the Information Technology industry.
However, its ambiguity hampers communication due to arguments over whether a particular piece of software is ‘free’ or not (OSI 2004). lists the rules which define the term “free software” as published by the FSF (2004).
Banner advertising is on a “pay-per-view” basis, according to the following rates:
Number of Views
- Either a large (468×60 pixels) banner advertisement strategically placed at the top of every page on the site (or a selection of pages, at your choice), or a 120×600 pixel “skyscraper” banner ad in the left hand column of every page on the site (or a selection of pages, at your choice). We can also arrange “text only” advertisements.
- A hotlink to your web site (or email address) when prospective buyers click on the ad
- Full on-line statistical information, by day and overall, on the number of ad exposures, and the click-through ratio for your ad
We can customize a banner advertising program that targets those visitors that you wish to be exposed to by only displaying your advertisement on those selected pages on the site that best suits your product or service. We also have the capability to “target” ads by geographical location or by keywords.
We can accept banner ads in most graphic formats, including rich media formats such as Flash.
On all pages, (except where an exclusive advertising arrangement is in place, subject to negotiation) banner ads are placed “on rotation” with other banner advertisements. Current site statistics indicate that each visitor to the site visits approximately 5 pages per visit, so advertising is limited to a maximum of 5 advertisers on each page – each with equal probability of exposure on the page.
Advertising and Sponsorship opportunities our free monthly newsletter on topics of interest to Maintenance professionals around the globe. This newsletter is issued via plain text e-mail to an opt-in subscriber base numbering in the thousands, with a web version also published. Two advertising slots are currently permitted within each newsletter, and the advertisement consists of:
- Four lines of text in the e-mail version of the newsletter, and
- Four lines of text plus a banner advertisement in the web-based version of the newsletter
The banner advertisement comes with full on-line, real-time statistical reporting, as for site banner advertisements (detailed above)
Advertising rates depend on the number of subscribers to the newsletter. For more information on current rates, subscribers and the availability of space in future newsletters.
Direct Mail To Our Opt-In Mailing List
In addition to our opt-in subscriber base for the M-News newsletter, we have a further opt-in list of contacts who have expressed interest in receiving occasional e-mails containing information about maintenance-related products and services. We can issue an email to members of this list on your behalf promoting your products or services. Once again, advertising rates depend on the number of subscribers to the opt-in mailing list. For more information on current rates and the number of subscribers.
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“The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale” (OSI 2004).
By ensuring free redistribution, open source software is not hampered by short-term gains which would affect real long-term sales from customised versions of the software or contracted support and maintenance. Thus, a supplier may generate copies of the software and sell them or give them away without paying anyone for that privilege. As a result, many open source software can be bought on CD or DVD by paying for the cost of the medium only, since the supplier is not adding any extra costs.
“The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in source code as well as compiled form. Where some form of a product is
THE OPEN SOURCE MODEL
not distributed with source code, there must be a well-publicised means of obtaining the source code for no more than a reasonable reproduction costpreferably, downloading via the Internet without charge. The source code must be the preferred form in which a programmer would modify the program.
Deliberately obfuscated source code is not allowed. Intermediate forms such as the output of a preprocessor or translator are not allowed” (OSI 2004).
To evolve and expand open source software, the source code must be available and in a modifiable state. The original or modified source code is then provided along with the software and any derived works, in order to ensure future repair or modifications.
“The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software” (OSI 2004).
Future software updates and maintenance of the distributed source code, as seen in section 3.2.2, has no real use if the modified software cannot be distributed. Therefore, the ability to simply modify the source code is not enough to support independent peer review and rapid evolutionary selection.
Instead, it should be possible to redistribute the modified software along with the modified source code.
Redistributed software can use the same license terms as the original software. Although this is not a requirement to do so but an option at the hands of the distributor. This requirement means; a license may not allow re-licensing or modification of its terms, or may allow re-licensing and sub-licensing of derived works.
Content Management Systems
Content Management Systems (CMS) are not just a product or a technology.
CMS is a generic term which defines a wide range of processes which underpin the “next-generation” of medium to large-scale websites (Browning & Lowndes 2001). A content management process; creates, stores, modifies, retrieves and displays data, or content, as seen in chapter 2.
The applications of CMS cannot be clearly defined. Even though a CMS is range of processes and managed software, the boundaries of the CMS space are blurred. The area covered by CMS overlaps with a wide range of traditional software systems, as seen in figure 4.1. As a result of this overlap of functionality, an intranet groupware system or virtual learning system can easily be implemented via the same CMS (Browning & Lowndes 2001).
CMS have no single interface or implementation, they are effectively designed on the requirements of each business. The implementations of CMS differ from web based to integrated server-side applications.
Requirements & Prerequisites
- Document management systems
- Knowledge management systems
- Enterprise application integration systems
- E-commerce solutions
- Web portals
implementations vary from PHP, Perl and Python. Integrated application server implementations use popular languages like Java 2 Enterprise Edition and C++. Figure 4.2 shows a visual interpretation of the structure of a typical CMS.
This report does not deal with the application or use of CMS, for example; document management or virtual learning. Instead, this report takes a comparative approach to web portals only, based on their functionality from a business perspective. Web portals are websites which act as a main “point of entry” for users. They offer a range of services, for example; news section, search engine and web catalogue. Web portals are CMS solutions which offer content over the web, thus they may seem limited in functionality over traditional applications. To the contrary, due to the pervasive nature of the internet, the web has become the preferred method for content delivery (Browning & Lowndes 2001).
Requirements & Prerequisites
Although requirements on software packages vary between businesses, they still have certain common requirements. The objective of this report is to compare the widest possible selection of open source content management systems, which can be used by businesses. The most suitable CMS solutions
Requirements & Prerequisites
- Integration &
- Authentication Services
- Syndication Management
- Data Repository
These are selected based on a set of clearly defined requirements, all others have been rejected. Figure 4.3 lists these requirements.
All the systems compared within this report are required to be licensed by an OSI-approved open source license, as defined in chapter 3. Open source software is widely recognised for its standards compliance, which is vital for businesses. For example, creating a website which uses proprietary data structures will hinder future expansion to new systems or technologies due to incompatibilities. Open source software are more likely to follow standards like the W3C Extensible HyperText Markup Language (XHTML) or XML specifications while ensuring they can interact with each other. Commercial software tend to be incompatible with each other in order to keep the customer hooked to a specific technology or supplier.
Compatibility with the Apache HTTP server is vital. The Apache HTTP server is the most widely used web server on the internet. Netcraft (2004) reports that more than 67% of the websites on the internet are using Apache, with 4 million new hostnames growth in the first half of 2004.
Planning to implement MIS in the organisation:
An information system is a set of interrelated components that collect, process, store and distribute information to support decision making and control in an organisation. In addition to support decision making, coordination, and control, information system may also help managers and workers analyze problems and visualize complex subjects and create new products. Information systems contain information about significant people, place and things within the organisation or in the environment surrounding its. By information we mean data that have been shaped into a form that is meaningful and useful to human beings. Data is contrast are streams of raw facts representing events occurring in organisation or physical environment before they have been organised and arranged into a form that people can understand and use.
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There’s more growth and innovation in computing and ICT than in any other area of business. The individuals and organisations best equipped to respond to the challenge of rapidly changing technologies are those with the vision to ensure that their skills and knowledge are kept current and set in a broad educational context. Computing and ICT professionals with a strong skill set are much in demand today, and enrolling on a postgraduate computing course with the OU will keep you at the forefront of this influential discipline. Our Postgraduate Computing and ICT courses provide you with the range of innovative, practice-based courses and qualifications that you need to develop your career. We offer several certificates, diplomas and masters degrees in computing and ICT, and you can choose to study topics such as software development and management, project management, computer forensics, information security, communication technologies and networks. You don’t need to have a first degree to register for a course, but you do need either previous study to the equivalent of HND level in the UK, or practical experience, which will enable study at postgraduate level.
Management Data Resources
Implementing a database requires widespread organisation change in the role of information, the allocation of power at senior levels, the ownership and sharing of information, patterns of organisational agreement. A database management system challenges the existing power arrangements in an organisation and for that reason often generates political resistance. In a traditional file environment each department constructed files and programs to fulfill its specific needs. Now with a database files and programs must be built that take into account the full organisation’s interest in data. Moving database environment can be a costly long term process,.
Electronic Business, Electronic Commerce
Throughout this edition we emphasize the benefits of integrating information across the enterprise, creating an information technology infrastructure in which information can be flow seamlessly from one part of the organisation to another and from the organisation to its customers, suppliers, and business partners. The emerging digital firm require this level of information integration and companies increasingly depend on such an infrastructure today to remain efficient and competitive. Internet technology has emerged as the key enabling technology for this digital integration.
The internet has been introduced major changes in the way companies conduct business.
It has created a dramatic drop in the cost of developing, sending and storing information while making that information more widely available. Millions of people can exchange massive amounts of information directly, instantly, for free. These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole. If identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you distribute them as separate works. But when you distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote it.
- Linux (2004), The linux kernel archives. Last access: 20-4-2004.
- URL: http://www.kernel.org
- Maglio, P. & Farrell, S. (2000), Liveinfo: Adapting web experience by customization
- and annotation, in ‘Proceedings of the 1st International Conference
- on Adaptive Hypermedia and Adaptive Web-based Systems’.
- Michelinakis, D. (2003), SotonOne project, Master’s thesis, University of Southampton, Department of Electronics and Computer Science.
- MozillaFoundation (2004), The mozilla browser. Last
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