While unravelling the layers of Interoperability, we explored the fundamentals of different systems, discussed the various meanings of Interoperability in part one and how they work together to achieve a shared objective. The best example of system-to-system Interoperability is something you engage with a million times a day, rely on both to share and to gather information and as well to keep you in contact with the world… yes you've guessed it … it's the Internet!

As far as most of us are concerned, we use the Internet and have no idea that it’s actually talking to hundreds of machines at the same time and that it’s designed not to break down.

So each machine knows how to talk to the other but they know nothing about each other. All they know is the foundation protocol TCP/IP. On top of this core protool, there are layered services like SMTP, FTP and HTTP etc. that all function seamlessly without us even noticing!

These various applications do not interrupt our experience online (well sometimes they do) and are hidden to provide that quick, receptive unified experience.

These technologies have been around for well over 50 years and the reason that it works so well, is because they don’t know about each other but have a common standard in which they efficiently interoperate.

So when a new device comes along such as the iPad, because it is a very known and common way of communicating nowadays, it doesn’t need to announce itself, it obeys those rules to form a simple system-to-system Interoperability function.

TCP/IP is the backbone that supports the ever-growing World Wide Web and the numerous application layers such as DHCP, DNS, FTP, HTTP, IMAP, IRC, LDAP, MGCP, NNTP, BGP, NTP, POP, RPC, RTP, RTSP, RIP, SIP, SMTP, SNMP, SOCKS, SSH, Telnet, TLS/SSL, XMPP and many more…

All the above may sound like noise but they are all highly functional and function so seamlessly that we just don’t know that we are using them which ultimately outlines how well system-to-system Interoperability is done. We don’t even realise that we are using the majority of those services right this moment!

These various application layers co-exist seamlessly, but we as users don’t know that they are there. Such is the case for users of our Brand Centre®, where they can bulk upload assets, assign assets to certain campaigns and automate artwork all within a ‘branded interoperable intra-net’.

In Part 3 of our mini-series, we will examine Interoperability within software environments, in particularly Application Programming Interfaces – APIs.

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