By Many Measures, the Web is a phenomenal business success. Entire industries, such as auctions, book selling, travel reservations, news dissemination, and classified advertising, have undergone sea changes because of it. Web companies like eBay, Amazon.com, Yahoo!, and Monster are huge enterprises. Some of them are even turning a profit. And yet the Web has also been an abject failure, at least so far. According to one estimate, e-commerce revenue for 2002 was a paltry 3.2 percent of all U.S. commercial transactions (about US $72 billion out of $2.25 trillion). Briefly high-flying companies like Priceline.com continue to disappoint investors. And Time Warner has dropped its Internet half, AOL, from its name, perhaps as a precursor to severing the company itself. Even within the industries that the Web is coming to dominate, such as travel bookings and music sales, there’s so much more that could be done. The reason is, in a word, databases: dusty, musty databases filled with useful data that would be far more useful if linked with other, equally dusty databases; enormous databases that are locked up inside ancient mainframes and quaintly archaic minicomputers; lonely databases residing on specialized file servers throughout an enterprise; even modern databases on… Read full this story
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