I was having a conversation with my buddy Dave tonight and we were discussing the how it is all about the Backend when building companies. So I thought I would use this opportunity to dymistify the backend and what its all about.
Front End and Back End Distinctions
The backend is not the front end for starters. I will use a Casino as a good way to explain the front end of a website and the backend of the website. The front end of the Casino usually has plenty of space for parking and accomodates many people (HOSTING – SERVER). Upon entering the front entrance of the website you have many options to engage in the Casino experience – for example, you can visit the front desk to get directions (FAQs) or a map of the Casino (SITEMAP). You can read the signs that are typically setup to guide you through to popular areas of the Casino (NAVIGATION). Depending on how well the Casino floor plan has been architected allows for ease of finding what types of games and activities a visitor might be seeking (LAYOUT DESIGN). Once a visitor finds a game or activity then they are ready to engage (CALL TO ACTION) the Backend systems – typically through a Middleware solution (DEALER AND PIT BOSS, SLOT MACHINE, VIDEO GAME CONSOLE, SHOPPING CART – You get the Idea). The job of the Front End systems are typically to get a user to engage in the Backend systems. So you sit down at a slot machine and you are ready to pull that winning combination (INTERFACE). You put your quarter into the slot machine which sets off a sequence of process’s and functions which are all handled unseen to you on the back end.
Front End and Back End Communications
Here is a basic breakdown of what might be happening with front end and back end: 1) your quarter is validated as credible for use in machine (CREDIT/ CURRENCY PROCESSING, ECOMMERCE); 2) the backend sends a message to the front end that the money was valid and notifies you of next steps in game process; 3) you pull the slot handle and the back end is immediately notified to process a series of functions, algorithms and other information necessary to game play – the result is then sent to front end which tells rolling icons where and when to stop, calculates winnings and reports; 4) at this stage you are notified of your wins or losses to the front end; 5) you are provide options on how to proceed with your results. Other things you don’t see are the hundreds of thousands of operations and process’s taking place to deliver the messages and information back to the front end. All of this is being tracked and reported to headquarters in realtime and decisions are being monitored whether to continue letting the machines reward you or not! Just kidding – I don’t know if someone really controls your ability to win or lose. I am sure Casinos are setup to give fair competition and winnings to everyone that plays.
So why is the Backend so Important?
The backend is typically what makes business’s more effecient and effective in providing users and consumers better ways of doing things. For example, imagine being a traveling regional sales person with over 20,000 contacts of suppliers, retailers, colleagues and companies all being managed from a traditional business card roladex (DATABASE). Imagine trying to communicate a product price change/update or sales program without having all your email names and address’s in one central place for immediate communication (EMAIL DATABASE BLASTING, FAXING, MAIL MERGES). Whether you are using Customer Relationship Management software like Microsoft Outlook, Sales Force Online, Filemaker Pro, GoldMine or other great products – the Backend both online and offline is supporting you with many features that are software driven by back end process’s and solutions.
How we use Back End Systems:
Ninthlink uses backend (back end) systems for many types of functions for clients. For example:
One Easy Fee uses a back end system to translate customer information into real time quotes for mortgage loans.
Murphy Design uses a backend system to provide consumers the opportunity to purchase books online in real time.
4FunParties uses a backend system to pull inventory information from a legacy database and allows for online ecommerce purchase of thousands of products.
Please add questions or your description as a comment. Or tell me if this sounds like complete madness.