Next to security, Alan Egan's biggest worry when launching www.e-merge.ie was finishing on time. "The site was launched along with a large pre-planned marketing campaign," explains the project manager. "With such a huge project, the software launch had to coincide with a national advertising campaign. Hitting the deadline was the only option."
The aim of the project was to integrate all of the mobile data options offered by Irish mobile telecommunications company Eircell. The mobile data portal enables users to integrate features such as e-mail, SMS text messaging, news and information into a service they can access anywhere, using a mobile phone, PDA, laptop or PC.
It took five months to design the site, from working out business requirements to the moment it went live. "The main challenges in producing the e-merge service were the integration of many mobile data offerings within Eircell and combining these into relevant online services," says Egan.
There was also the issue of keeping data secure. Although reluctant to give out any specific information about what tools and technologies were used to make the site secure, Egan did explain that the credit card payment screens establish secure socket layer (SSL) connections to customers. SSL uses randomly-generated secret keys for each session to ensure a secure link.
Most applications and interface routines were written in Java and run on Sun or Compaq platforms. All the data is stored using an Oracle database or on the iPlanet LDap server favoured by Eircell. They also used iPlanet for the Web server technology, run on Sun hardware under Solaris. "The LDap is supported by a similar server. A number of Compaq servers running True64 make it up," he says.
Most processes went smoothly, but Egan says he had to put in many hours to get the site ready in time for launch. "The worst thing was the long nights required to hit business deadlines," he says.
Now the site is up and running, Egan expects to make regular alterations and add new features to keep up with fast-moving mobile communications market. Even now, his team is busy writing new code to allow tighter links with core Eircell systems and the latest network technology.
Name: Alan Egan
Job title: project manager
Qualifications: BComm, MBA
IT skills: AS/400, RPG, Cobol
Hobbies: golf, football
Favourite pub: Maguire Brothers, near Dublin
Favourite film: The Lawnmower Man
Favourite book: Anything by Tom Clancy
Egan on Egan: professional, dedicated, ambitious
This was first published in January 2001