Continental Airlines Case Study
It is often said that ASP.NET does not scale and that for real enterprise applications you need to use J2EE. Well, the folks as Continental Airlines beg to differ. Not only does ASP.NET scale in terms of performance, Continental claims it also scales in terms of internationalization.
Scalability refers to more than just the ability to support more transactions per day. Sure 1.4 million daily flight availability checks Continental's website provides is impressive. And the accountants are going to love hearing that they were able to get a 43% improvement in speed without buying more hardware. But in this age of global commerce, there is another aspect that needs to be considered.
Having your site is up and running in English is all well and good until you realize that you are ignoring a lot of potential customers. Then the question of scalability turns from "Can I add more web servers?" to "Can I add more languages?"
In a case study sponsored by Microsoft, Jeff Sidfrid, an architect and developer for Continental Airlines, says:
We use a third-party package to translate our English-language content and database into Spanish, Hebrew, Japanese, and other languages. Because ASP.NET 2.0 provides a much cleaner separation of user-interface code and business logic, we can write our code in English without worrying too much about the translation process.
It sounds impressive, but do the claims hold up under scrutiny? It is hard to evaluate because the case study reads like marketing material and does not go into the details of how the site is constructed. A quick tour of the site shows us that, yes, they were able to internationalize most of their site. However there are still numerous places, where English leaks into the foreign language pages. Considering the site has only been operational for six months, perhaps this is to be expected.
- English: http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/default.aspx
- Spanish: http://www.continental.com/web/es/default.aspx
- Japanese: http://www.continental.com/web/ja-JP/default.aspx
- Supported Countries/Languages: http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/worldwide.aspx
The turn-around time for the project is also quite remarkable. According to the case study, "The Continental.com team began writing code in January 2006 and went live with the site on July 31, 2006. The team consisted of 14 developers, a test group of seven people, and six user interface experts." If a major airline can build a new high-capacity site in 7 months, while tying it into "more than 30 internal and external systems" including "Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server databases, mainframe legacy systems, a DB2 database hosted offsite, and a large number of other hosted systems and third-party Web services", then ASP.NET must really have something going for it.
For more information on ASP.NET and internationalization, check out Microsoft's Global Development and Computing Portal.
7 months is impressive
I know, I know... but Castle/MonoRail has really impressed me!
MS has Coherency
Regarding the 7 months, I think what you're able to pull off in terms of time depends highly on how good your developers are. Too often companies try go for cheap developers and don't realize it will cost them in the long term.
Re: MS has Coherency
Scope of Study