Company: PCSCustomer: onlinehighstreet.comSubmitted by: PRomoteDate: April is a unique three-dimensional high street on the Internet.

The site enables the user to navigate through a virtual representation of a traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ shopping centre. The main high street features ‘shops’ from many household names such as Boots, WHSmith, Carphone Warehouse, Barclays and Blockbuster. ‘Avenues’ leading off from this, feature stores from less well-known retailers.The company responsible for developing the site is Shownet Ltd. The idea for was originally conceived in November 1998.

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In August of 1999, the web site was launched with selected major retailers. Earlier this year, after a successful round of private funding, Shownet began re-designing the site to incorporate new features and improve functionality.Key to the success of the new site is the infrastructure behind it. “There is no point having a great looking site with exciting new features, if it falls over all the time,” explained Joe Green, Operations Director at Shownet Ltd.These new features include a global basket system – visitors can fill their ‘basket’ from several shops but just make one final payment – and advanced search facilities for products and services.

The re-designed site also enables Shownet to host web sites for smaller retailers, so it is business-critical for the company that the servers do not crash.Joe Green continued: “Finally, if we are to encourage more people to shop online, then the process needs to be fast and trouble free. It was crucial when re-designing the site, that we put in place systems that could handle an ever-increasing flow of consumers and retailers.”We decided to look for a reseller/integrator who could provide us with a quick and accurate service based upon our unique business needs, and who would understand what it was we needed to achieve. Cannon Hill, the London based consultancy we’d appointed to write our Oracle applications, recommended that we call Productivity Computer Solutions (PCS), one of Sun Microsystems leading resellers, to find out if they could provide us with a Sun-based solution to our IT problems.

“PCS identified our requirements straight away and, based on our budget, recommended the technology we would need to support the Oracle applications being written by Cannon Hill. The package included Sun E450 and 250 Servers with Solaris software and networking from Cisco. One E450 was used in conjunction with an A1000 to form the database server. Another E450 became the web server whilst the E250 is used as a staging/test server.

“Within three days of our initial conversation with PCS, the technology was delivered and installed at Globix Datacentre? thus enabling Cannon Hill to begin building our system without delay.”The new technology has been in place for several months now and has proved to be the perfect solution to our requirements. The after-sales service has been excellent from both PCS and Cannon Hill and we have been impressed by how quickly they have responded to any queries we have had. PCS and Cannon Hill make an excellent team that I would be happy to use in the future.”Since the re-launch, the number of retailers on the site has grown three-fold and unique visitors topped 50,000 last month. With Christmas approaching, Shownet is anticipating a 40 per cent increase in visitors but is confident that the new system will handle the increase in traffic without any problems.