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E-Business and Technology

Essay by   •  November 10, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  3,019 Words (13 Pages)  •  1,791 Views

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Introduction

Primus Securities is an online trading company. The purpose of this paper is to review the decisions that must be made to launch and maintain an online trading company.

Hardware is the first element addressed; servers, system memory, and hosting decisions will be reviewed. The second portion is software and includes items such as design, security and data storage. To make the web site available to customers, connectivity issues and options will be examined. A comparison to sites such as Ameritrade, Charles Schwab and E-Trade is also included. A lot of customer expectations will have been established by those websites and Primus will have to include many of the same offerings and then add something extra to win customers.

Hardware

Platform

The first consideration in choosing the hardware for the online trading project at Primus is the server type and platform that will be used. There are three basic platforms that should be considered. "In the past, large websites have always run on large UNIX-based systems from companies such as Sun, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM. However, with the increased stability and reliability of Microsoft Windows servers and the advent of the Linux operating system, more and more sites are turning to Intel-based servers" (Rayport-Jaworski, 2003, pp. 361-362).

The Intel-based servers are the best option for Primus, allowing it the flexibility to choose between the Windows Server operating system and the Linux operating system. The software options will be more extensive with this type of server and the cost of purchasing and maintaining them is less (Rayport-Jaworski, 2003, p. 362). The company will likely need three separate servers - a database server, an application server, and a web server. Considering the amount of software needed, this level of flexibility will surely provide an advantage.

System Power

For purposes of this analysis, system power refers to system memory, CPU speed, storage capacity, and disk access speed. The requirements are somewhat different depending on which server is being considered.

Primus should expect that the number of transactions passing through its online trading website has the potential to be massive. Therefore, the database server's specifications are scrutinized the closest. This machine will need to have a huge amount of storage capacity and will need to utilize the latest technology for fast disk access. Ignoring or minimizing the potential volume of transactions could lead to a sluggish system during peak times and could result in a loss of business.

The application server will provide the processing power for the transactions that are processed on the website. The most important considerations for this server are its speed and memory. The website being designed by Primus will eventually include a comprehensive list of features. Each one of these features will place an additional burden on the system processes and memory. In support of the demands placed on an application server's memory and processing power, Rayport-Jaworski (2003) says "The logic involved in implementing the business rules can at time be convoluted and can require a fair amount of processing power to determine" (p. 362).

The requirements of the web server will depend a great deal on the architecture of the site. If the page displays are largely a product of the logic of the application servers, the web server's job will be a simple matter of passing data to the application server. If a large number of static pages such as forms and documents are utilized in the site, the web server's job will be more demanding. The situation expected at Primus is that it will have a number of different page templates and a great deal of processing to generate the content for these templates. For this reason, the web server will be one with disk storage and access speed beyond the capabilities of the application server, but less than the capabilities of the database server. The processing speed and memory requirements of the web server are not as important of those needed in the application server, but are at least comparable to those in the database server (Rayport-Jaworski, 2003, pp. 362-363).

Web Hosting Alternatives

Shared hosting and co-hosting are the options Primus must consider for its server. In a shared hosting configuration, Primus would simply rent space and processing time on someone else's server. Primus' applications and databases would reside on servers alongside applications and databases of other customers. The access to the site would be dependent on more than the capabilities of the server. It would also depend on any scheduled or unscheduled downtime and traffic from other websites residing on the server. Security can also be a concern in a shared-hosting arrangement. The one benefit of such an arrangement is its cost. It is a more economical choice than co-hosting.

In a co-hosted arrangement, Primus would own the servers, and the server's resources would be dedicated to meeting the needs of Primus' customers. Control over the availability of the system would remain in the hands of Primus in this arrangement. A co-hosted arrangement also solves the security issue, and security is a major concern when the data in question involves financial data of a company's customers. Even though a co-hosted arrangement is not the best choice from a short-term economics point of view, it is the best choice when all the factors are considered.

Software

The selection of a trading platform will need to be made after a thorough examination of the requirements approved in the use case, and in conjunction of with the selection of the hardware. There are two basic options available: Hire software engineers and compete the work in-house, or outsource it to a company experienced in trading platform design. Outsourcing this work is recommended due to the cost and time required to develop it in-house. Companies such as A-1 Technology (http://www.a1technology.com/brokerage.htm) provide comprehensive support to take the project from the conference room to the Internet. Some of the services offered include software development, maintenance and testing, and customer support. Due to the nature and complexity of online trading, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for a small company such as Primus to fund and complete this work internally. By outsourcing this work, Primus can take advantage of the experience offered by a company specializing in online trading platforms.

Security should be a top priority when developing any e-commerce web site. Security becomes especially

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