Running An E-business Isn't About To Get Any Simpler

Any technologist looking for relief from the complexity of running an E-business system may face a long wait. In his keynote at Giga Information Group's Infrastructures for E-Business in Los Angeles, Giga VP Richard Fichera told an audience of E-business decision-makers that the proliferation of users, devices, and transactions will ensure that complexity remains Public Enemy No. 1.

Fichera says much of the growing complexity can be traced to the perceived need for so many applications to be available around the clock, making maintenance tricky. Vendors, he says, are working feverishly to develop tools that combat the problem, but companies shouldn't expect miracle cures. "Complexity is a little demon we've got to deal with," he says. "It's rising as fast or faster than the workload demands."

Part of the issue is the Web's role as the great equalizer, which leads to smaller businesses facing the same challenges as larger ones. Don Neely, an E-business program director at IBM, says complexity is a challenge for companies of all sizes that have or are developing E-business infrastructures. "You don't have to be at a Fortune 500 company to have that level of complexity," Neely says. "Everybody has that, and whether they intuitively understand that is the issue."

David Moore, deputy CIO for the U.S. Department of Education, understands it all too well. Moore is leading the Education Department's migration from a legacy system to a full-blown E-commerce environment for managing student loans. But even though the need to combat complexity has been a part of the project all along, he was surprised by Fichera's assertion that those managing E-business environments should be prepared to add to their server counts by 10% to 20% each quarter.

With the launch of the department's first portal--for school financial-assistance administrators--just weeks away, Moore is bracing himself. "No one knows what the capacity's going to be," he says. "When you open the doors, you never know how many people are going to come."

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