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Appendix: Gartner Group - WebVision Technical Assestment: Due Diligence Report (14 February 2000)

Table of Contents

Executive Summary
Technical Assessment
    Technical Infrastructure
    Network and Global Access
    Operations Support Processes
    Application Development Processes and Tools
    Application Architecture
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats Analysis
    Seagate Interview Notes
    Sotheby's Interview Notes

Executive Summary

  • Based on our assessment of WebVision's technical infrastructure, no technical barriers were found that should prevent WebVision from being able to scale to support its stated objectives.

  • WebVision's new application architecture is sound and consistent with industry directions for Web-based environments.

  • WebVision is strong in the area of integration of its software with legacy systems and other customer systems.

  • WebVision's Application portfolio and functionality are narrow and there is established competition, both at the high-end of the market (Ariba, Commerce One) and at the low-end.

  • WebVision areas of weakness:
    - Informal application development (AD) environment will not scale well.
    - Insufficient alliances with systems integrators, independent software vendors, and value-added resellers and distributors
    - Technology focus rather than business/market focus
    - Dependence on three or four key staff members.


Freeman Spogli & Co. engaged GartnerGroup to assess WebVision's technical infrastructure prior to making an investment decision

Project Objectives

  • Assess WebVision's data center technology plan and architecture appropriateness

  • Assess WebVision's application strategy and architecture appropriateness

  • Perform strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats (SWOT) analysis of WebVision's strategy

Project Approach

  • Review of documentation provided by Freeman and WebVision

  • Interviews with 12 WebVision executives (see Appendix A) on Jan. 25 and 26

  • Two-day on-site visit to WebVision facilities, including data center/network operations center

  • Telephone interviews with two WebVision customers (see Appendixes B through E)

  • Review of related GartnerGroup/Dataquest research

  • Sampling of major competitors' Web sites and WebVision-developed sites

The GartnerConsulting team evaluated six major areas as part of its technical assessment

  1. Technical infrastructure
    • Data center infrastructure
    • Technology infrastructure supporting applications
  2. Network and global access
    • Current network
    • Planned network
  3. Operational support processes

  4. Application development processes and tools

  5. Application architecture

  6. Application strategy

Technical Infrastructure

WebVision has demonstrated its capability to build a robust data-center infrastructure that is well-positioned to support e-commerce Web-hosting/co-location services

Data Center Infrastructure


  • The Torrance, CA Internet Data Center (IDC) facility, which includes the Network Operations Center (NOC), is fully redundant, scalable and flexible
    - Every network component is redundant
    - Separate geographically distributed access paths to local and interexchange carriers (IXCs)
    - For each carrier, redundant access to a minimum of two central offices (COs)

  • The IDC provides a high degree of security and protection against outages
    - Electronic badge access
    - Full-time guard, sign-in and ID requirements for escorted guests-guests not left unattended
    - Video cameras monitoring the entire data center
    - Videotapes stored for 90 days
    - Separation of NOC from computer room
    - Raised floor and redundant cabling
    - Three levels of smoke detectors
    - Seismic Zone 4 construction
    - High-pressure, high-capacity Halon fire suppression systems
    - Online uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system and diesel generators
    - Multiple redundant cooling systems

  • Proven flexibility to support co-location and multiple client platforms

  • High degree of standardization of equipment and ability to deploy similar data centers using cookie-cutter approach

  • Extensive physical room for growth and excess network capacity

  • Skilled staff with international experience from Malaysian and Saudi Arabian projects

Weaknesses (short-term)

  • Lacks a major backup and disaster recovery data center. This is being addressed by the build out of the North Carolina (NC) data center

    (WebVision Note: The North Carolina (NC) data center is now complete.)

WebVision's technology-infrastructure-supporting applications are consistent with those of leading competitors

Technology-Infrastructure-Supporting Applications


  • Focus on Unix as the platform for high-end Web applications is consistent with leading-edge directions and GartnerGroup advice

  • Proven ability and competence to also support NT and Linux operating systems provide flexibility for lower-end customers as well as flexibility for the future

  • High degree of standardization on industry leading databases-Oracle, DB2 and Microsoft SOL Server

  • Strategic direction of deploying all future applications on Java-based infrastructure and languages provides portability , reusability and attractiveness to skilled resources


  • Many of the older components which were developed using C++ and Microsoft DCOM/ActiveX infrastructure will require porting and retesting

Network and Global Access

WebVision's network demonstrates its capability to build a world-class 7x24 network infrastructure; however, it lacks both U.S. and worldwide coverage and points of presence

Current Network


  • Wide-area network and access network is fully redundant (with one minor exception) and is positioned to support the availability requirements of most customers
  • - Redundant fiber access to local exchange carriers (LECs), IXCs and ISPs
    - Redundant routers and switches
    - Asynchronous transfer mode (A TM) technology provides superior network flexibility and management capabilities to grow
    - Fully-meshed, switched backbone with very high availability

  • Excess capacity and significant room for growth

  • Strong ATM networking and TCP/IP skills

  • Strong focus on testing of new vendor equipment and using rigorous change management process to minimize network problems


  • Lack points of presence (POPs) outside of Southern California (being addressed through the NC Data Center and regional hub expansion plans)

    (WebVision Note: The North Carolina (NC) data center is now complete.)

  • Lack of a worldwide backbone connecting the POPs

WebVision’s leading-edge networking plans will provide a potential competitive edge and allow innovative services

Planned Network


  • Repeatable cookie-cutter deployment can provide WebVision with worldwide presence as well as strong U.S. presence

  • Will have ability to load balance across the network to maintain high service levels
  • - High availability and performance through content caching
    - Flexible routing of traffic

  • Will provide increased application availability, improved security and the opportunity to offer innovative services
  • - Quality of service (QoS) and other advanced services providing guaranteed bandwidth and performance for applications, such as video multicasting
    - Dynamic allocation of virtual private networks (VPNs)
    - Fine-grained billing based on QoS

  • Team committed to fully test vendor products and claims prior to adoption


  • Lack of applications to take advantage of all the potential features of the planned network

Operations Support Processes

WebVision's implementation of network and systems management (NSM) and other operational and support processes is consistent with industry best practices


  • WebVision's proactive network management approach has reached Level 3 on GartnerGroup's 0 to 4 Level NSM maturity scale

  • WebVision's NSM is a pragmatic and effective combination of best-of-breed tools for managing networks, applications, servers and processes

  • Consolidated service desk

  • 7x24 support

  • Escalation of critical alarms

  • Documented support processes and escalation procedures

  • Service level agreements (SLAs) are part of contracts with customers

  • Consistent monitoring of service levels and reporting against SLAs

  • Strong architecture of help desk integration around directory services

  • Ability for customer to access help desk tool for problem reporting, resolution tracking and report development

  • Web-based support tools

  • Backup and recovery process supported by strategic partnership with a storage vendor (StorageTek)


  • Support tools are somewhat difficult to understand and use, due to the weak user interface

Application Development Processes and Tools

WebVision's AD process is focused on reusability and time-to-market, but current AD methodology and tools are immature


  • Strong focus on component development with proven reusability

  • Clear separation between "component development factory" and engineering, and customer configuration and development processes

  • Effective quality assurance (QA) process

  • Strong approach to performance testing

  • Availability of off-shore AD capacity to reduce development cost and time-to-market

  • Strong source code management tools (CVS) and supporting processes


  • Custom development lacks AD process standardization and rigorous documentation standards

  • Lack of tools and processes for managing requirements with the ability to trace through design and testing
  • - Requirements tool
    - Standardized process
    - Documentation standards

  • Lack of tools for high-volume component management
  • - Browser-enabled repository
    - Component registry
    - Component version tracking and releases at the customer level

Application Architecture

WebVision's initial application architecture has proven to be scalable and flexible

  • Uses object-oriented, component-based, Netscape and Microsoft application program interfaces (APls)

  • Supports industry-standard scalable databases such as Oracle, DB2, Sybase and Microsoft SOL Server

  • Includes middleware developed to improve Web server capabilities
  • - Uniform interfaces provided by WebVision programs
    - WebVision views this middleware as rigid and difficult to change
    - WebVision has developed reusable components and templates (e.g., AUCTIONnet)

  • Uses some objects developed to Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) standards

  • Adapted architecture to multiple vendor environments
  • - Multiple vendors' Unix platforms have been the key focus
    - NT platform support has also been developed

  • Has proven capability for back-end integration with client legacy systems (e.g., Toshiba, Seagate, Epson)

WebVision is currently migrating to a more standardized, scalable application architecture

  • Adopted Enterprise Java Beans 2 (EJB2) middleware component standard for improved platform portability and interoperability

  • Using vendor-supplied integrated application servers and middleware

  • Utilizing more standardized middleware and database connectivity (i.e., Java database connectivity [JDBC] standard interfaces)

  • Replacing C++ components with Java

  • New architecture is expected to be highly scalable, flexible and easier to integrate
  • - Productivity improvements are expected in development efforts
    - Time-to-market will improve for business logic and client availability

This new application architecture is consistent with the industry direction for Web-based environments

  • Utilization of application servers for the foundation of an n-tier application topology
  • - "n-tiered" architecture provides a high degree of scalability
    - Improves availability of business function despite hardware and software failures

  • Use of industry standard Java-based frameworks such as EJB2, which supports large-scale transaction processing and enterprise-class functionality

  • Adoption of mainstream application development platforms, which currently have EJB vendor support

  • Migration to Java, a more reliable/maintainable development language
  • - Java is the preferred language for developing complex, changeable and maintainable business logic
    - By 2002, Gartner expects Java to be used for 70 percent of enterprise-class business logic

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats Analysis

WebVision Strengths

  • Robust technical infrastructure
    - State-of-the-art IDC
    - Redundant network and strong NSM tools

  • Excess data center and network capacity available to react quickly to new business opportunities

  • Proven e-commerce application components

  • Experienced technical team with up-to-date technology skills

  • Strong network design and network software integration capabilities

  • Proven application systems integration technical expertise and competencies in e-commerce business functionality

  • Good reputation for meeting customer service needs and referencing client base

  • Experienced executive team in the distributor and VAR channel

  • Ongoing Web-hosting/co-location services revenue stream

WebVision Weaknesses

  • Local presence only, with lack of national marketing and operating experience1

  • Lack of experience in operating complex network services across multiple network operating centers1

  • Short-term lack of an equivalent backup and disaster recovery data center1

  • Narrow set of e-commerce and application service offerings

  • Lack of a wider set of business functionality for small and midsize enterprises

  • Lack of application experience outside e-commerce business processes2

  • Weak application development processes, tools and documentation

  • Application pricing model that doesn't support low-cost entry to ASP services

  • Lack of strategic partners and alliances with system integrators

  • Dependence on a handful of highly skilled technical leaders who could be difficult to replace if they left

WebVision Notes:
1. Corrected via the addition of North Carolina (NC) data center.
2. Is being corrected by hiring experts since the time of writing this report.

Seagate Interview Notes

Using the product is very easy. Seagate had complex back-end integration issues, where other products did not meld well with its back-end environment. Seagate has a highly customized Oracle ERP system. Other products were very difficult. The WV product required developer resources to get it integrated. Lots of interfaces had to be created. Each one took lots of time for requirements gathering. All of them took about one month to two months to complete.

WV weakness could be not enough staff. Very quick response on critical problems. However, takes longer on noncritical problems, like questions or enhancement, typically three to four days and more than one call.

WV scored well on everything but documentation, which may be better today.

Ability to meet commitments A   Service reliability A
Customer service/problem resolution B Technical strength A
Enhancements/new releases B Documentation D
Ability to respond quickly B+ Training requirements A
Product functionality B Sales force knowledge/professionalism B

Documentation was lacking. Not good for a developer. All they got from WV were some white papers. No good descriptions for writing queries and getting tag definitions. D score on documentation. No training issues on administration.

Seagate wrote its own administration tool for updating the catalog.

Add-on function is at a software developer level which it continues to do. Easy for the developers to do the work.

Back-end integration is done every 15 minutes back to Oracle ERP running in Oklahoma City using batch polling method.

Sotheby's Interview Notes

How would you rate WebVision on: (A = very good to D = poor)

Ability to meet commitments A   Service reliability B
Customer service/problem resolution A Technical strength A to C
Enhancements/new releases A Documentation C
Ability to respond quickly A-C Training requirements B
Product functionality B Sales force knowledge/professionalism C

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