B.6 Project 3: OaK project

Linux has created a beachhead in StoreCompany through two successful projects. The first was a simple consolidation of some security-related infrastructure images (firewall and proxy servers) onto a few Linux images on one of the z900 machines. The second project, described above, was the use of WCS to create an online store.

The new marketing programs manager at StoreCompany has suggested that it should be a relatively simple thing to offer a new brand of products: a category of exclusive gifts called One-of-a-Kind (OaK). They would be presented on the StoreCompany Web site, but would actually not be in stock at StoreCompany. Instead, third-party vendors (craftspeople, artists) would offer their products for inclusion in the OaK Web catalog. This would give the third parties the advantage of this new marketing channel, as well as the brand recognition of StoreCompany.

A small team consisting of one person familiar with the WAS interfaces to the order entry and inventory systems, one person from the Linux WCS side, one Web-page designer, and the lead marketing person whose idea spawned the project will design and implement these ideas. The intent is to have a first deployment for customers in one month, with three experimental trial periods lasting an aggregate of six months. At the end of the project, a recommendation on how and whether to add this opportunity to the standard portfolio will be made to the management committee.

B.6.1 Concept

Artists supply StoreCompany with information about the articles for sale. StoreCompany presents the articles in its Web catalog. Customers can then browse the catalog and place orders. When an order comes in through the catalog to StoreCompany, it is sent directly through to the third party who creates the item and then ships it to the customer. The process is illustrated in Figure B-5.

Figure B-5. Flow of new business opportunity "One-of-a-Kind"


StoreCompany adds the articles into their Web catalog under the existing category of "specialty items." The lead OaK person wants to measure the probability of a purchase when certain types of customers are presented with search results tailored to their known preferences.

Using business intelligence (BI) methods to mine customers' buying patterns it is possible to both determine an appropriate target customer and identify OaK items that are likely toappeal. When a customer from this special set enters their catalog site, a BI query is triggered to create a pseudo search page result from the OaK set of items. The page is presented to the customer in a pop-up window with the heading "a new service for you."

Market opportunity and benefits

For StoreCompany, the following benefits are expected:

  • Keep high-end customers and encourage customers to buy more

  • Receive a higher profit margin per transaction

For the artists and craftspeople, the following benefits can be expected:

  • A new channel to reach clients the company wouldn't normally see

  • Benefit from the brand name of "StoreCompany"

  • Little interaction with the end client during the business transaction process (more time for art or crafts)

For the customer, the following benefits are expected:

  • One-of-a-Kind special items from a trusted, respected retailer

  • Ease in finding the perfect present

B.6.2 Business objectives

  • Allow the marketing department to rapidly try out new ideas for creating new retail business opportunities by making experimental applications available to customers

  • Increase revenue and profit per individual sale.

B.6.3 Policies

  • There will be risk management plans in place for all "market trials."

  • All changes are to be implemented within new Linux images exploiting only IFL engines. The new Linux images should place less than a 10% peak and a 1% average utilization increase on the z/OS image. Thus it cannot impact normal business commitments.

  • No business data should be kept on the new Linux images. That is, the items for sale are part of the sales database on DB2; the transactions for completing a sale will be the standard CICS transactions, and any inventory information for the new opportunities is kept in the inventory database on z/OS.

  • The marketing department owns the new Linux images that is, it owns the availability requirements and any resulting impact to its business experiment. The IT organization will support the operation of those images.

B.6.4 Procedures

The OaK team has established the following:

  • All new business data representing the OaK products, customers, and vendors will be managed as part of the standard backup/restore/disaster recovery processes in place on z/OS for the respective databases.

  • The OaK catalog starting point will be the only change allowed on the production catalog system. During this trial phase, control and information will be given over to one of the new Linux images.

B.6.5 Changes needed

  • New business intelligence (BI) image that coordinates all the activities of OaK, such as order entry and delivery.

  • Change to production system: authorizing the new BI image to make certain requests of the production system that result in the customer data being forwarded to the BI image for further processing.

  • Customer data to artist or craftsperson for shipping; shipping process data back to customer.

  • New code will be required to implement dynamic concatenation of suitable items (such as Amazon.com's "Customers who bought this also bought").

B.6.6 Implementation

A new BI application was written to handle gift offering in connection with the OaK. Some of its functions are:

  • Based on shopping history and customer profile, find and display list of gifts in suitable interest area and price range.

  • When customer orders, return customer to main application to conclude sales. Send shipping information to third-party vendor for handling.

A datamart is a convenient way to get information from all your data. A datamart approach was chosen to handle the different pieces of information that need to be consolidated into a new Datamart database:

  • A batch job will run on z/OS that extracts the information needed for the new OaK query from the various databases, creating a unique database that will be transferred to DB2 UDB on a new Linux image that has all the data optimized for real time queries of customer buying interests.

  • Change to production side: Schedule the datamart building job at some "quiet time" on the production machine. Since only a small portion of StoreCompany's business is 24x7 (the catalog) and the larger portion is still store-based, the company does have these quiet times.

The BI application and the datamart were added to StoreCompany's set up, as shown in Figure B-6.

Figure B-6. The new datamart image and Linux image for business intelligence are added


Other changes include:

  • WAS to implement the cross-system interactions between the new Linux images and z/OS.

  • BI transactions that finds customer profile will be implemented in new image.

  • The BI image will not have an external IP address.

  • The existing accounting and ordering applications are not changed and are separated from the BI image (and so is most of the rest of this customer's catalog experience).

  • A HiperSockets LAN and Guest LANs are used for the most secure communications, as illustrated in Figure B-7:

    - A HiperSockets LAN connects the z/OS applications with the new business intelligence image, as well as the Web application image, the Web server, and the proxy.

    - One Guest LAN connects the firewall image with the proxy server, and another connects the datamart and business application images with the Web server.

    - Cross-memory services provide communication among the z/OS applications.

    Figure B-7. Logical implementation of new business opportunity, One-of-a-Kind gifts


B.6.7 Opportunity cost

  • Development and deployment cost:

    - Excess capacity of the second IFL will be used, as the online catalog needs the first one, and growth is expected

    - Project staff

    - One new DB2 UDB license

  • Cost for including articles in catalog: small, just the storage it takes to describe one.

  • Cost of finding articles to include: advertising cost and part of the cost of one specialized buyer for selection of appropriate items.

  • Cost of failure: Low. Some of the new code will be re-usable for other experiments.

Linux on the Mainframe
Linux on the Mainframe
ISBN: 0131014153
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 199

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