system analyst and adjunct cio business analyst and technical writer

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Does your organization have...

» A project whose value will diminish with time?
» Severe budget constraints?
» The need to get an initiative done now, if not sooner?

Answered yes to any of these?

We can help.


The Challenge

This project centered around a leading manufacturer and supplier of computer systems and application middleware to companies of all sizes worldwide and one of its resellers. The manufacturer wanted to try a new distribution strategy, selling low end servers and components through a major, strategic reseller using the internet.

There was a catch, however. The new website needed to be up and running within six weeks to meet fiscal year goals and objectives! A completely new e-commerce website in only 6 weeks!

The Solution

We could have gone to someplace like Yahoo Shops and used a standard template. However, the site had to integrate with the reseller's existing systems and tie into a planned extranet. Unique requirements moved us toward a custom built solution.

But we only had 6 weeks!

We settled on a simple and effective database-driven architecture. Such an architecture stores almost everything in a database and then builds pages dynamically based on user requests.

Using readily available tools, we created a fully-functional, e-commerce website that was able to display a product catalog, accept credit card payments and provide security via PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption and secure sockets. Orders were processed the same day and product prices were updated nightly. Business logic and dynamic HTML generation were handled in Perl.

The Result

We delivered a fully-functional, custom-built, e-commerce solution in 6 weeks! The website offers a new distribution channel for low end servers including access to high quality professional services. The team was successful because we were able to prioritize goals and maintain a clear focus.

If you'd like more information on establishing and prioritizing goals and objectives, you should read this article called "Joint Requirements Planning Works!".

Open Source Software

Open or Closed?

One of the things that kept the cost of this project down was using open source software. We used the following tools and technologies to build the site:

»Apache Web Server
»Concurrent Versioning System (CVS)
»MySQL Database
»Sun Solaris

If we had used a commercial web server and database, our costs would have been dramatically higher. However, it's important to note that the added cost would not have improved the quality or reliability of the site at all.

Yes, many vendors will dispute that claim. What would you expect them to say?

Don't hesitate to spend money when there is clear value. And don't waste money when there isn't.

If you'd like to learn more about open source software alternatives, read this.