To avoid this problem, "firewalls" have been invented. These are special
computers with programming designed to resist the efforts of hackers. However,
these devices are somewhat expensive and not perfect. Therefore, BMS has
devised what we believe to be a completely secure way for you to offer
information from your databases to your customers through the Internet.
The advertising model is a "static" application and some of our customers
already have set up home pages for this purpose. Doing this effectively
requires some artistry just as any other creative process. BMS can provide
technical consulting about how to do this but has no interest in the creative
process itself. For that, you would use the same kind of people who currently
prepare your brochures, etc.
What BMS can provide is the linkage to your databases and the programming
that lets your customers access the data in them. This can be done in a
secure fashion so that customers should only have access to data about
their shipments (both Import and Export), just as existing dial-in programs
work now. We can also set up data entry forms so that your customers can
send SLI's, Commercial Invoices or other standard forms. In contrast with
the current system where you have to provide your customers with a program
that allows them to dial into your system, anyone with a modern PC will
be able to access your Home Page through the Internet.
Little or no training will be required because the programs will be
in the familiar Windows form and on-line help will be available. The current
dial-in versions of these programs use many codes to indicate ports, status
and other information. The new programs we are writing for the Home Pages
will be in plain English with no codes. Also, you will not have to worry
about customers monopolizing your modem line or customer frustration because
the line is busy.
We must point out that any Web site is subject to attack by hackers.
You have to assume that any data on your site will become public knowledge.
For that reason, we will severely restrict what data is published to the
However, if you want to be able to offer your customers up-to-date status
information about their shipments (like UPS or Federal Express) you need
a direct connection to your database. A hosting service cannot do that.
Originally, our plan was to install a small Unix system at each customer
location to serve as a Web site. However, after a thorough analysis of
the costs involved, this does not seem to be economically feasible. Instead,
BMS has purchased a Motorola computer system which will serve as a Web
site for all its customers who elect this service. The computer will be
located at our Fairfax, Virginia office and will be connected to the Internet
by Commercial Internet Services, LLC (CommInt) through a firewall. Initially,
we will have a 128 Kbaud connection. We believe this will be completely
adequate for the traffic we expect, but will monitor it carefully,
Each customer will have a completely independent database on this host
system. Data will be transferred through serial communications lines using
existing modems. It will appear to your customers that you have your own
web site. There will be no possibility of any mixture of data. We expect
to obtain updates from each customer's system about once an hour. This
should suffice, but the updates can be done more frequently if necessary.
The updates will be done by having your computer automatically call our
Web site system.
By running the web sites on a computer located in our office, we greatly
simplify the whole process. This is especially true when the reduction
in system administration is considered.
The recurring charges will be split evenly between all customers who
choose to participate. As we understand it now, the following charges would
|Internet Access Fee||$225 per month|
|Communication Costs||90 per month|
|Hardware Maintenance||100 per month|
|Total||$415 per month|
Thus, the cost per customer should be between $100 and $200 per month.
In addition, you will have the cost of calling the Web site computer. This
should not be a significant cost, even if long distance is involved. We
expect that each call will be less than 1 minute.
The setup costs will include a share of BMS's costs in procuring the necessary hardware and the cost of developing the applications.
The cost for application development will depend on the level of services required and how many of our customers decide to go this route. We are hoping that we can write one core set of applications to access status data and accept orders. Spreading this effort across the needs of several companies will reduce the cost for each.