What Goes Up, Must Go…Sideways?

Horizontal and Vertical Interoperability

This makes no sense – side to side, up and down?


No matter what way you say it, horizontal and vertical interoperability rings the same dull bell of emptiness. I had no idea what either of these concepts meant until a few weeks ago when we learned about them in class. But, in the light of a midterm dawning right after reading week it is time that I really get a grasp on this concept. Who knows, this question could be the difference between a pass, a fail, an A or a B. So here is a little review/cheat sheet for all of you EID100 students that are cramming, just like me.

Horizontal Interoperability

This form of interoperability can be done without us even noticing that it’s happening. This is when media is moved from one place to the to the other without changing the end goal of the product. Although the media may have different features, the information from the product has not been manipulated throughout the process. A technological example would be moving from a Google Drive to a Word Document (Bless the GoogleDrive). Although the platform is different, on is cloud computing and the other isn’t, the information contained in the media has not been changed or manipulated. Both are still your lecture notes, the words haven’t changed, they are just in a different platform. A real life example would be when you are making toast. Putting in the raw piece of bread and after you take it out – the information is all still the same. It’s still bread, it is still going to be eaten (by me because bread is the most delicious food), but it’s just slightly different.

Vertical Interoperability

What comes up, must come down. However, when that thing comes down there is no way that it can possibly the same, as it was when it went up. This is exactly how it all works out when it comes to vertical interoperability. This happens when the information transitions from one form to another. A technological example would be the movement between Paypal and eBay. One is a sales platform and the other is a payment platform – one is advertising products for purchasing and the other is taking the credit card and payment information. These two systems have to work together, but they both have different end goals. A more real world example would be mixing all the ingredients together – sugar, butter, eggs, flour and baking powder – to create a cookie. When all the variables work together, they are changing the end product by working seamlessly together.

So Diagonal Interoperability?

Just kidding, that would be something. Glad that it’s not quite true. The most important thing to remember when you are trying to understand these concepts is that in horizontal interoperability the end goal is the same but vertical interoperability the final goal changes.

Good luck on all those midterms – to bad we can’t bring Google into the exam room, that would be a treat.

Digitally yours,
Digital Guru



One thought on “What Goes Up, Must Go…Sideways?

  1. Diagonal interoperability is actually a thing! I like how you think. eBay and PayPal is actually a diagonal example, but for the class, I’m presenting it as vertical. The reasoning is that eBay and PayPal have split. When they were the same company, this is a vertical example because the movement of data is within the same cloud/vertical/industry.

    Great post! I’m going to get some toast now…


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