The Internet explosion is causing a tidal wave of transactions. By 2003 more than 500 million people will regularly use the Web. What's more, business-to-business e-commerce will dwarf personal transactions in the next couple of years, with an estimated value of more than $1trillion by 2003. The number of transactions we're talking about is breathtaking.
After all, it is estimated that every time someone clicks on a mouse it triggers 800 more tasks for your server to perform.
Can any single computing architecture cope with this flood? Is there a "one-size-fits-all" platform?
Certainly not at the moment. Both Unix and Windows NT have their strong points, but neither is the answer to every prayer. The mature (indeed, the only practical) solution is to have multiple platforms managed in a single, heterogeneous environment.
Fortunately, the goal of the new application service providers (ASPs) is to enable this complexity to be outsourced by effectively commoditising the provision of business computing. They enable companies to happily turn their backs on all the complexity they struggle with today. All they will need to know is how to use this wonderful resource to best commercial effect.
Of course, the technical challenges won't evaporate. Businesses will still need multiple platforms managed in a heterogeneous environment.
Or rather, they will require their ASPs to support multiple platforms on their behalf. ASPs will need to meet the ongoing computing requirements of many different companies - each with their own, unique set of technical demands. And that, by any standards, is some challenge.
Erich Clementi is vice- president of system sales for IBM EMEA