Driving the E-Train

FRAMINGHAM (04/03/2000) - Trillions and trillions: 2.7 trillion of them, to be exact. That's the number of dollars that the business-to-business e-commerce market will reach by 2004, according to Gartner Group Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut.

These days, involvement in building business-to-business e-commerce systems is the sweet spot for networking professionals, who have an opportunity to make their mark in ways they've never dreamed of.

One company riding the e-commerce wave is Commerce One Inc. in Pleasanton, California, a builder of XML-based products, portals and services for companies wanting to do electronic business together.

Senior e-commerce manager Rupa Joshi's job is to oversee the performance and availability monitoring for Commerce One's hosted sites (BuySite, MarketSite and MarketSite.net).

"The sites have to work in partnership to handle large volumes and other stressful conditions," she says. "My job is to look at performance from an end-to-end perspective and ensure that the systems can handle high concurrency and transaction load through the Internet at peak performance."

Previous experience: Technical director at Charles Schwab & Co., overseeing the performance of the Online Trading System. Joshi also spent several years in performance management of applications, systems and networks at Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America Corp.

Impact on company: No high-performance network, no company. "Gone are the days when performance was done after the fact, when something broke down. Now, you have to design everything as a system. An application has to be designed with response time in mind. Huge server farms, with creative load balancing and fault tolerance, negotiate a browser's clicks through a maze of application and database accesses, cached data and network paths. Everything has to work together in partnerships."

Skills needed: A combination of many. Joshi has several years' worth of in-depth experience in performance, availability, capacity and planning, as well as in troubleshooting applications. In addition, she says, "You have to be bold and ready to take decisive actions, be a team player and think big."

Salary, bonuses and perks: "Engineers who understand performance end-to-end are hard to come by," says Joshi. Salaries start at $90,000 and bonuses are at least 10 percent to 20 percent of salary. Stock options can be part of the package, too. For Joshi, job satisfaction is an additional perk.

Future opportunities: "Immense," says Joshi. "For somebody doing end-to-end performance, understanding the architecture of the application, network and all systems is crucial. Work like this also gives exposure to production problems, capacity planning, monitoring and network management systems. All this information opens up remarkable opportunities. One can aspire to become a technical director/vice president, CIO or engineering manager. You can be what you want!"

Challenges, risks and rewards: Keeping up with the pace of technology change and learning as one goes. "I love learning, and if you want to learn, then this is where you want to be," says Joshi.

Advice to others: "Have a vision. Think big, and develop a great understanding of and expertise in systems end-to-end. Be willing to learn and work hard. Be a decision-maker."

Fryer is a freelance writer in Santa Cruz, Calif.

Just the Facts

Name and job title: Rupa Joshi, senior e-commerce managerCompany and location: Commerce One Inc., Pleasanton, California.

Nature of her work: End-to-end performance managementHow she got the job: Recommended by a Commerce One employee; previous experienceSkills required: Technical, analytical, troubleshooting and tuningTraining needed: Browser and application of HTML, XML, database, network, Internet, network access points, caching, queuingSalary potential: $90,000 and up, an annual bonus of at least 10 percent, possibly stock optionsCareer path: Vice president or CIO. "The world is your oyster."

Advice: "Be a visionary, and learn, learn, learn."

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