ConsumerREVIEW is an Internet company dedicated to meeting the needs of consumers who are researching products on the Web. Their mission is to be the leading source of trusted buying advice for enthusiasts with interests ranging from sporting goods to consumer electronics. Visitors come to learn, interact and buy or sell the products showcased within ConsumerREVIEW’s communities of enthusiasts who share first-hand product experiences via the Internet.
The original ConsumerREVIEW.com site was a collection of nearly 20 separate enthusiast sites. Each enthusiast section was dedicated to a different interest, often hosted on a separate Web server and created with a different code base. The cost of maintaining these 20 sites was not scaling well as the business grew.
ConsumerREVIEW was looking to support its continued growth with a manageable, cost-effective, scalable technology solution that would enable each enthusiast site to function as a single, cohesive information channel. The new site would need to be built on the latest technology to ensure the highest levels of performance and extensibility (the ability to expand as its business needs evolve) for the lowest total cost of ownership. ConsumerREVIEW.com chose Microsoft as its technology platform, and sought a business partner who could architect a solution that would enable the in-house ConsumerREVIEW.com team to implement and manage it.
ConsumerREVIEW hired Jake Ryan as the Lead Project Architect to solve the critical architectural challenges of this site. Based on the technical and business requirements Jake designed a Web architecture using Microsoft’s .NET Framework. (.NET is Microsoft’s next-generation development platform, which allows applications to communicate and share data over the Internet, regardless of operating system or programming language.) Jake worked with the ConsumerREVIEW staff to distill the Web site into 30 .NET components that could be mixed and matched to provide the capabilities desired in each area of the site. This greatly enhanced site manageability, allowing site administrators to make a change to a component in one area of the site and have that change reflected consistently across all areas of the site.
The site was designed with an open architecture using technologies like XML, XSL and SOAP that promote the highest degree of manageability and extensibility. These technologies allow for reusable site components, resulting in a cost-effective, easily managed site architecture. The architecture included ASP.NET, Windows 2000 Server and SQL Server 2000. The site is supported by a single, common code base and was developed using the Microsoft’s C# programming language.
The Web site architecture developed for ConsumerREVIEW not only supports the company’s growing user community but also the evolution of its business strategy, which is especially critical in the ever-changing Internet economy. The new site has a high degree of manageability, allowing the company to simplify its business processes and decrease the cost of operating its site. The open, component-based architecture allows ConsumerREVIEW.com to expand its business activities and support end users with more robust capabilities than ever before. The architecture easily scales as their business grows while maintenance costs only increase linearly rather than exponentially. ConsumerREVIEW’s new site takes the company into the future, as it is both highly scaleable and extensible while maintaining a low total cost of ownership.