When Karl Littardi started designing www.paperX.com, his main considerations were speed and value, writes Roisin Woolnough. He and five other techies from Internet professional services firm Agency.com had been drafted in to help launch the site, which enables bulk paper buyers and sellers to trade online. Their remit was to get the site up and running, build up the infrastructure and then bow out when paperX.com's in-house IT department were ready to take over.
This whole process took six months, with Littardi and his team, www.paperX.com and its back-end integration company working together. Littardi says it was important that all three sets of people worked with each other because a lot of co-operation and information-sharing was needed to bring the project together.
This meant that he was involved in the whole creative process from defining the business processes, deciding the middleware to front-end mechanics and creating the designs. But primarily, his most urgent consideration was launching the site. It was launched in two phases, with the first phase lasting two months before consolidating the infrastructure.
"We produced the initial Web site hosted on NT, using a combination of Allaire JRun 2.3.3, SQL Server 7 and Internet Information Server 4," Littardi explains. "This served as a stage to launch the first instance of paperX.com's online presence. We chose these technologies at this early stage for rapid deployment and value. The deadlines for getting to market in this first iteration were extremely aggressive and a more heavyweight solution would have failed to make it on time."
Now that the time pressures are less critical, Littardi says they are moving the site from its NT boxes to more permanent Solaris machines, which the trading engine already operates on. They have also implemented Weblogic and switched from having the SQL Server 7 database to an Oracle one, for reasons of robustness and scalability.
Littardi says the three teams managed to co-operate and communicate effectively throughout all these processes. The only problem occurred when they changed from using an Internet service provider (ISP) to Agency.com's servers and tried to change the domain name server. "The ISP had no publicly available phone number and just would not return our e-mail requests or faxes," he says. "It took four weeks instead of 48-hours to finally respond to an e-mail."
Name: Karl Littardi
Job title: senior technical director
Qualifications: BSc cognitive and computer sciences
IT skills: C++, Java and Java Server Pages, database programming, Weblogic, Solaris, Oracle, object oriented analysis, content management, software project implementation
Hobbies: building, renovating and riding motorcycles, swimming and badminton
Favourite pub: White Hart, Manningtree, Essex
Littardi on Littardi: bloody nice bloke