Lines of code in the average electronic toothbrush: 3,000
Millions of billions of calculations per second in the human brain: 20
Billions of embedded processors sold in 1998: 4.8
Percentage of embedded processors intended for PCs in 1998: 2.5
Number of embedded chips in the typical family car: 20
Number of microprocessors in the typical American household: 40
Trillions of dollars in projected on-line business-to-business sales in 2002: 1.3
Increase in Americans' exposure to advertising between 1971 and 1991: 6x
Percentage of stress-related visits to physicians: 75 to 90
Increase in meat consumption during the last population doubling: 4x
Species of diseases: 250
Species of weeds: 220
Percentage of grain fed to livestock: 40
Number of trees it takes to print the Sunday New York Times: 3,200
Millions of prisoners in the US in 2000: 1.3
Percentage of Americans who will spend time in prison, if current incarceration rates continue: 5
Percent chance for an African-American male in the US of going to jail: 28
1-17: Understanding, the new book by Richard Saul Wurman. (www.understandingusa.com)
by Heather Mead
Prior to what Omaha Steaks (http://www/omahasteaks.com/) believed would be the start of their busiest on-line shopping time of year, the 2000 holiday season, they decided to revamp their web site to accommodate an estimated one million customers. eOne Group (http://www.eonegroup.com/), an Omaha-based eCommerce software and service provider, worked with Omaha Steak's internal IT department to build a web site that could be hosted on-site, integrated into back-end systems as well as provide advance delivery schedules and multiple ship-to-address options.
As the basis of the new web site, eOne used their Java-based, hardware-independent development application called jCommerce. Being an open-architecture application, jCommerce runs on almost any platform and can be customized for each individual customer and situation. As jCommerce provided the database-driven features Omaha Steaks wanted, including easily customized XML and XHTML tags and accessible userinterfaces, the software choice seemed easy enough; the real decision centered on what platform to use.
Chad Bukowski, chief architect at eOne, characterizes Omaha Steaks as a traditional, family-owned and operated business since 1917. He was unsure how receptive the company would be of the open-source philosophy and business model Linux offered, the platform eOne actively supports for their jCommerce software. But he also knew that their final decision would be based on price and performance and not necessarily the name attached to the platform. The benchmark stress and load tests were done on RS/6000 M80 IBM systems, their current AS/400 system and Dell Intel boxes running Red Hat Linux 6.2. During the test, the AS/400 system slowed when the number of separate, simultaneous customer orders headed toward 50; the RS/6000 topped out around 150-200 orders. The Dell boxes, according to Bukowski, processed 250-400 orders with little taxation.
Impressed by the benchmark results of Linux, its scalability and because Omaha Steaks “wanted something that wasn't tied to IBM”, Bukowski said that they were eager to launch their new web site running on Linux. Jeff Carter, CTO of Omaha Steaks, said that four main considerations made Linux the most viable option: price performance of the Dell servers versus the IBM offerings ($8,000 per machine for Dell vs. $250,000 per machine for RS/6000, plus licensing fees); overall acceptance and performance of Linux in the Internet space; stability of Linux versus NT on the Intel platform; and easy integration of Linux with legacy systems.
The new site went live in fall 2000, after a 60-day setup period. So far, both Omaha Steaks and eOne are pleased with the results. Reboots are nonexistent, and Bukowski says the system “is singing right along”. Customers are satisfied with the simplified and versatile ordering procedure, and Omaha Steak employees have had no problems adapting to the new system. Carter underlines the importance of having a system that can be maintained with internal resources: no Java programming is necessary to maintain the parameter-driven site. Of Omaha Steak's relationship with eOne Group, jCommerce and Linux, Carter says, “No one else in the marketplace had all of these thing to offer.”
Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal
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