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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 16, 2000. All rights

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Web Limitations: David Krumholz

Creating a website is easy. Building a website is cheap.

Just about anything can be done on the Web.

All lies, says David Krumholz, an East Windsor-based website and

software

consultant (Strand Management Solutions, 609-448-1200). "Even

an intelligent business person’s idea about what can be delivered

on the Web doesn’t match the reality," says Krumholz, who

discusses

the limitations and roadblocks on the Web on Thursday, February 24,

at 8 a.m. at the Princeton Council meeting at the Hyatt. Call

732-615-9096.

The meeting is free.

Although the average business person doesn’t understand the

complexities

of ISPs, servers, and web-based applications, the perception persists

that getting a Web-based business up and running is easy, says

Krumholz.

"For the most part, people are happy they don’t understand,"

he says. "They don’t want to learn a lot to use the Internet."

That’s fine — if you’ve got the money to spend, says Krumholz.

More frugal business people might want to take more time to learn

so that they know what they’re really buying. "If someone says

he’s going to host your website for free," says Krumholz, "he

may do that, but is he giving you access to databases, expertise in

navigation, expertise in graphics, and to be frank, is he going to

be in business a year from now?"

Krumholz, who grew up in the Bronx, earned a BS in computer sciences

and accounting from Pace University in the mid-1970s and become a

comptroller in a large engineering firm. He hated it. So he left to

start Strand software consulting and slowly migrated to New Jersey’s

suburbs. "A lot of my business involves looking at systems that

are, if not accounting systems, certainly management systems,"

he says. "Over the past five years delivering a desktop system

means providing something over the Web, so now over half of our

business

is Web-based, as opposed to client-server based."

That means Krumholz has to walk bewildered clients through a quagmire

of tricky decisions about launching an online shop: which ISP? Buy

or lease a server? Sun or Microsoft NT? T-1 or DSL?

Even the basic wiring — getting a line to the Web — is not

a cut and dried matter, says Krumholz. "One of the misconceptions

is that the physical connection to the Internet is equally available

in all places," says Krumholz, who learned otherwise first hand.

"We went to get a T-1 line installed and we knew exactly what

we were doing and it still took three months — in order to get

the fiber into the building, we had to pass under a property which

required a sign-off by each of the partners in the building."

Everything — from the availability of telecommunication services

to the integrity of web applications — is in a state of flux,

says Krumholz, who offers his own Internet reality check:

Building a website is expensive. "It’s certainly more

than you think it’s going to be," says Krumholz. "Just putting

up a website can be done for close to nothing, but the problem is

people don’t stop to think about all the different things involved

and they don’t understand what they’re getting a good deal on and

what they’re getting a bad deal on. It’s not unusual for computer

application projects to go over budget. As soon as you add the word

Web, you leave yourself open to lots of costs and lots of delays."

Telecommunications service providers don’t have it all worked

out . First, there’s the logistical problem — routing miles

and miles of wires underground and into old buildings. "No one

foresaw the advent of needing more telecommunications lines,"

says Krumholz.

Secondly, there are too many people with their hands in the cookie

jar. "The people who are selling you the service are not the ones

who have to get it into the building," says Krumholz. "It’s

layer upon layer of partner, and these people have not really worked

through the details. Everything is being oversold. Advertisements

make you think that everything is a lot easier to do than it is in

reality.

"If in fact you want T-1 access from your location, there are

30 people who will tell you that they’ll be happy to deliver it to

you right away, but whether or not they can — you may not know

for another 45 days. You can buy DSL service from someone who has

contracted to use the telephone lines, and the phone companies who

actually own those lines view the service as less than business class

service, so if there are problems with the line, they don’t really

have a commitment to help you out."

Desktop applications don’t translate neatly to the Web.

"Many people in the corporate world become familiar with the kinds

of applications that can be delivered at the desktop using client

server technology and mistakenly think it’s possible to deliver the

same flavor using Web technology, and that’s simply not the case,"

says Krumholz. "The large number of technical issues that are

required to deliver an application on the Web far exceeds what is

required in client-server technology, so people end up having to live

with a smaller application on the Web."

Code is not written in stone. "Web technology changes

so quickly and there’s so many people providing different means of

delivering desktop applications," says Krumholz. "The way

businesses are being bought and sold these days the chances are that

— no matter who you are dealing with today — you may be

dealing

with a different legal entity a year from now."

Launching a website happens not once — but many times.

"I would say about 75 percent of the sites you go to today look

totally different than they did three months ago," says Krumholz.

"It’s not until you have your first site up that you can make

intelligent decisions about those things that you had to decide

previously.

Putting the site up is a learning experience every time you do

it."

There are no short-cuts to building a website — the best

you can do, says Krumholz, is make the most educated decisions

possible,

limit your costs, and accept the fact that you’re not going to wind

up with the best thing possible. "But having learned what you’ve

learned," says Krumholz, "you can start to make better

choices."


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