Background: in the late 90s, during the initial dot-com boom, the creation of a high volume ecommerce site involved a huge amount of custom software development and deployment of expensive servers using proprietary hardware and software from companies like Sun and Oracle.
Problem: A major contributor to big ecommerce failures like pets.com and Webvan was the extremely high costs of infrastructure development. In the meantime, Red Hat’s Linux OS can be deployed on inexpensive Intel hardware, and open source webservers, databases, application servers, and other components were available to facilitate ecommerce, but they were inaccessible to non-geeks.
Solution: I oversaw the creation and launch of the Red Hat eCommerce Suite, a turn-key bundle of Red Hat, Interchange, secure webserver, and other software tied together with a user-friendly configuration interface. Thousands of complex ecommerce sites were developed using the suite of tools from Red Hat, such as backcountry.com (the subject of a separate case study), and between 2000 and 2005, there was a sea change in the industry toward open source software: almost all ecommerce sites today run on Linux-based cloud platforms and use open source webservers, databases, and other components.