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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.

The turn-around time for the project is also quite remarkable. According to the case study, "The 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.


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Community comments

  • 7 months is impressive

    by Christopher Bennage,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    I suspect that it would have been even faster with MonoRail (for those of you unfamiliar with Castle/MonoRail, it's a .NET web dev framework somewhat based on Rails).
    I know, I know... but Castle/MonoRail has really impressed me!

  • MS has Coherency

    by Dan Diephouse,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    The thing that MS has going for it is that its able to create a coherent solution. You don't have assemble the right solution for you piece by piece like you do in Java land. It's also fairly well documented. On the other hand, Java can be a crowd of vendors squabbling with each other.

    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.

    Dan Diephouse
    Envoi Solutions

  • Re: MS has Coherency

    by Joel Jaisi,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    well micsrosoft got it right in .NET 2.0. ASP.NET is faster and its easier to write your code since you can code inyour specialised language (whether VB or C#). The separation of programming logic and presentation was a great step in the implementation of the languages in the framework. You dont need to learn a new language, if you know vb or c# you can write an app.

  • Scope of Study

    by Joel Jaisi,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Although time taken to develop depends on the expertise and number of developers, generally it takes less time to develop an app in than any other language coz 1. Its easy to build the interface due to the 'BEST' IDE the worlder ever seen 2. The separation of logic and interface makes the code cleaner and easier to read and maintain 3. The compatibility of the framework languages makes it easier for developers from deferent backgrounds to work together etc

  • Really????

    by Justice Utete,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    sounds amazing but we dont see any J2EE implementation comparison. this is a marketing SCAM

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