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Well, as a Web developer on contract at Toys "R" Us for over a year, I want to shed some light as someone who knows first-hand about what happened there, and the role played by ColdFusion (the correct spelling, not "Cold Fusion").

The site used memory extensively throughout the site, and pushed ColdFusion to its limits under version 4. There were a couple of performance problems with CF, such as the performance of the locking mechanism, but they primarily caused the need for additional servers. The two events at TRU that caused the most negative publicity were 1) an increase in volume by a factor of 10 overnight in September 1999, due to a very well-placed discount coupon (<g>) which required an increase in the number of servers to make the site available again, and 2) the failure to ship gifts on time in Christmas of 1999. The latter was due to lack of warehouse capacity, and was also a customer relations error because the customers were not notified about the inability to ship on time until just before Christmas day (although some were happy with the $100 gift certificates they received).

The site was successful technically, and performance improved dramatically with CF 4.5 and 4.51, due to enhancements in memory management and locking. The final decision to move to Amazon was, we believe, due to 1) yes, risk reduction on the site itself, but probably more important 2) reliable fulfillment by (shipping capacity etc.), 3) excellent customer service, 4) Amazon's 20+ million customers vs's 1+ million at that time, and 5) great reduction in the cost of developing and running the site. The toy business is so seasonal that it is a perennial problem to have sufficient personnel and shipping capacities to handle the holiday Season, yet not lose money the rest of the year due to overstaffing and too much capacity. These are very real problems, and they have been largely avoided due to the Amazon deal.

My colleagues in development and I were not so happy to see our work replaced with, but we do understand the reasons it was done, and it was not due to technology. In my opinion, the biggest problem ColdFusion has is the fact that it is neither an open standard, nor a Microsoft product, and so it loses for non-technical reasons in the competition for some sites.

I hope this is useful information.
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