REVIEWER: Gregg Siter, manager of enterprise automation for Outpost.com.
BACKGROUND: When an e-business is rated the number one consumer shopping experience on the Web by Bizrate.com and receives the number one PowerRanking for Computing by Forrester Research, it must be doing something right. Outpost.com is one of the pioneer online superstores. It offers over 200,000 products to over 1,300,000 customers on a site that receives 3 to 4 million visitors per month. Its success can be attributed to Outpost.com's commitment to customer service and attention to the smallest details. Handling that level of e-commerce traffic while keeping customers loyal takes a superior transaction-processing system. It must be fast and reliable and able to keep customer information constantly fresh. Outpost.com accomplishes this, in part, with BridgeWare. This unique solution for MPE/iX, a joint effort of Taurus Software and Quest Software, offers Outpost.com several advantages. It delivers near real-time updates from its back office system to the open system Web server. It keeps critical data in synch between the Web and the back office, and it virtually eliminates processing lag time.
PLATFORMS: Outpost.com's mission critical systems include an HP e3000 server running MPE/iX and UNIX Web servers. The Ecometry mail order and cataloging system is used
for order tracking, inventory changes and customer data.
PROBLEM SOLVED: As business and customers grew, site performance slowed. Too much time was required to refresh data on the UNIX Web server from the back-office application. Outpost.com purchased a product that was supposed to solve this problem, but results were disappointing. Originally, we had a product similar to BridgeWare. It couldn't handle the huge volume, so the customer on the Web saw inaccurate data. We searched the market and selected BridgeWare.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: This innovative product provides three major functions needed by
e-businesses. Shadowing technology allows it to detect changes to TurboIMAGE, KSAM or MPE/iX files on the HP e3000 and automatically move the updated data to a DBMS running on UNIX or NT systems. It facilitates one-time data migration, as well as continual data movement to new open system applications, data marts or data warehouses.
STRENGTHS: Now, Outpost.com keeps the back-end HP e3000 in near real-time synchronization with the Web server. New customers are critical to our growth. We know that the shopper won't wait slow data feeds would kill us. With customer accounts growing by approximately 100 percent last year alone, Outpost.com depends on the accurate, up-to-date information on product availability, shipping dates and pricing it gets with BridgeWare. Customer loyalty is a cornerstone of our strategy. Making promises to them on inaccurate or out of date data would hurt us immeasurably.
WEAKNESSES: We really haven't found any weaknesses in the product at least not with the way we're using it. Taurus informed us they will be adding a graphical workbench later this year that would automate many of the activities needed to implement BridgeWare applications.
SELECTION CRITERIA: It was BridgeWare's ability to update data, as well as to deliver real-time and scheduled posts across multiple platforms, that gave Outpost.com the flexibility needed to handle heavy traffic loads. Better yet, the implementation required no upgrades to the system or software and integrated transparently into the operating environment.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Taurus Software's support has always been quick and reliable and their technical support group is very knowledgeable. They have a real understanding of how to move data and to make the HP e3000 more of an open platform.
DOCUMENTATION: Taurus provides its customers with a reference manual, user guide and tutorial for use when implementing the software.
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