New Technology/enterprise Ltd
Project example #1:
B2B Web-based fulfilment service
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The business case
The client identified a new Web market whereby high profile retailers could access overseas markets via a Web presence and telemarketing provided they could address warehousing and delivery/returns issues. The client sought to claim the middle ground between retailers, warehousing and transport organisations. European wide, the client planned to charge a small percentage from each transaction, offering the retailers greater sales for no establishment costs and the other parties enhanced turnover. As a startup, the client required a sound technical case to secure venture capital funding.

The technical case
Potentially high volume messaging required in (practically) real time to update stock, dispatch, financial and order information locally and centrally. The solution had to permit input in a number of formats, handle bottlenecks at peak times, provide an audit trail and be scalable for future expansion.

Our input
Our initial remit was the proof of concept, architecture and design of all appropriate hardware and software. Costs had to be minimised but future expansion catered for. The main issue was translating messages in a wide range of formats (EDI, FTP, X400, e-mail etc.) and content (ordering of message content, format and single/batch mode). Given that a source message (e.g. a sales order) could generate multiple onward messages (e.g. stock level checks, credit, lookup of fulfilment house, delivery instructions) we worked closely with the and its potential clients to formalise the business logic of the system, including transaction volumes.

We developed a co-hosted NT Server solution using XML as the internal messaging format. One NT box handled messaging conversions and a second housed BEA WebLogic application server to manage all business logic, including Oracle DBMS. We successfully dealt with the client's concerns on security, SLA's, exception handling and reporting (incl. financial). The initial system handled 9 messages/sec (32,000/hr), comfortably in excess of the client's requirements and was readily portable to UNIX-based servers, providing throughput of 375 messages/sec (1.3M/hr), when the business case justified it.

NT/e's design and specification was extensively tested by the Venture Capitalist's experts and passed all requirements.