Friday, November 20, 2009

Windows Azure Case Studies for PDC 2009 – Part 1

Microsoft’s public relations team published during the Professional Developer’s Conference 2009 53 case studies that contained Azure as a keyword. Following are links to and abstracts of the first 20 of these case studies, which involve the following firms:

  1. DotNet Solutions
  2. CCH
  3. The Information Store
  4. Site Masher
  5. 3M
  6. Acumatica
  7. Archetype
  8. OCCMundial
  9. Lokad
  10. Kelley Blue Book
  11. Invensys
  12. Sopima
  13. TradeFacilitate
  14. AdSlot
  15. Associated Press
  16. TicketDirect
  17. Sugar CRM
  18. Active Web Solutions
  19. Advanced Telemetry
  20. Glympse

The Kelley Blue Book and TicketDirect projects were featured in PDC 2009 workshops, sessions or both.

DotNet Solutions: Systems Integrator Launches Innovative Software with Minimal Capital Investment (11/17/2009)

To improve its own development process, Dot Net Solutions created a virtual project-collaboration application. When the software, called ScrumWall, drew great interest from customers, the company used Windows Azure™ to offer it as a hosted service. The solution made it possible for Dot Net Solutions to bring its new product to market quickly, with minimal investment costs, while offering superior performance to users.

CCH: Financial Services ISV Fosters Flexibility and Cost Savings with Hosted Solution (11/17/2009)

CCH, which provides software for business professionals, adapted its sales tax–calculation application to run on the Windows Azure™ platform. CCH expects its use of Windows Azure to result in greater choice for customers, the ability to scale on demand, and lower costs. The company found the learning curve for the migration experience to be smooth and easy for developers because of the familiar tool set and operating environment of the Windows Azure platform.

The Information Store: Solution Developer Expects to Boost Efficiency with Software-plus-Services Strategy (11/17/2008)

The Information Store® helps global petroleum companies access exploration and production data irrespective of where the data resides and presents it in a useful and familiar form. To maintain its competitive advantage, the company was eager to find a cost-effective way to extend its industry-leading PetroTrek® solutions to independent oil producers. The company evaluated two “software as a service” offerings and selected the Windows Azure™ platform—an Internet-scale “cloud services” platform that is hosted in Microsoft® data centers—as the foundation for its online Digital Oilfield solution, along with Microsoft SQL Azure, the Silverlight™ browser plug-in, and Bing™ maps for enterprise. The company expects to increase the operational efficiency of its customers by reducing upfront capital costs, reducing deployment cycles from months to days, and lowering ongoing operating expenses.

Site Masher: Software Developer Launches Highly Scalable Web Site Platform, Minimizes Costs (11/17/2009)

Sitemasher, developer of an innovative platform for building and managing Web sites, wanted to help Web professionals create scalable, data-driven Web sites faster, and at lower cost. The company also needed to lower its own systems infrastructure costs. Sitemasher used the Windows Azure™ platform to offer its application as a hosted service, delivering an efficient, highly available, and highly scalable Web site development and hosting environment to its customers. By hosting its application on Windows Azure through Microsoft® data centers, the company has minimized infrastructure costs and reduced ongoing maintenance. Finally, with no data centers of its own to manage, Sitemasher will refocus the time its development staff spent maintaining servers to improving and expanding the Sitemasher application, representing a time savings of approximately 20 percent.

3M: 3M Launches Web-Based Visual Attention Service to Heighten Design Impact (11/17/2009)

A recognized world leader in technology research and development, 3M wanted to make its decades of expertise in the workings of the human visual system available as a service to customers. Using the Windows Azure™ platform, 3M created a Web-based application that gives designers the ability to invoke complex algorithms to analyze the effectiveness of a design, based on how the human eye will respond. By hosting its application in Microsoft® data centers, 3M has made an innovative service available to a global audience, while minimizing its investment in hardware infrastructure and ongoing administration. The solution, which permitted developers to evaluate frequent iterations of the application, helped the company speed time-to-market for its service and achieve higher quality results, faster than in a traditional development environment.

Acumatica: Software Company Efficiently and Cost-Effectively Delivers Software-plus-Services (11/17/2009)

Acumatica is a software company that develops enterprise resource planning and business accounting software. Acumatica developed its Web-based software using the Microsoft® .NET Framework and offered on-premises software that required customers to invest in application and database servers. The company wanted to deliver a software-plus-services solution to its customers, effectively hosting and managing its solutions on the Internet through data centers. Acumatica chose to develop its software-plus-services application using Windows Azure™ and Microsoft SQL Azure™. As a result, Acumatica developed its hosted offering in five weeks, reduced capital expenditures, reduced the deployment time for customers while improving their ability to quickly scale up and down, and improved its time-to-market for new services.

Archetype: Interactive Solution Provider Gains Agility, Conserves Costs with Hosted Services (11/17/2009)

Archetype, an interactive technology solution provider, developed the Archetype Media Platform (AMP), which includes the AMP Editor, AMP Portal, AMP Manager, and AMP Analytics applications. The firm faced common challenges with scalability, time-consuming deployments, and high entry costs for its customers. Archetype migrated its existing AMP solution to the Windows Azure™ platform and developed additional components specifically to take advantage of the new system. The firm found it easy to develop for Windows Azure—which facilitates expeditious, direct deployment to the cloud through the Windows Azure portal—and it anticipates greater business and development agility as a result, promoting cost savings and more-timely response to customer needs. The firm’s customers note the increased performance and shorter time-to-value with Windows Azure as compared with traditional solutions.

OCCMundial: Job-Listing Web Site Scales Up Solution, Reduces Costs by More Than U.S.$500,000 (11/17/2009)

The job-listing Web site connects job seekers with opportunities and optimizes hiring processes for businesses. Headquartered in Mexico City, helps to fill more than 600,000 positions a year in Mexican and international job markets. To provide better value to its customers, the company developed a recommendation system it calls OCCMatch to match job openings to candidate resumes. wanted to scale up its OCCMatch recommendation system to connect 1.5 million resumes with 80,000 job listings, but its existing computing infrastructure lacked capacity to meet the demand. To avoid significant hardware and other infrastructure costs, used the Windows Azure™ platform to host OCCMatch through a Microsoft® data center, providing easy solution scalability and enhancing value for customers.

Lokad: Company Efficiently Delivers Advanced Forecasts with Scalable Software-plus-Services (11/17/2009)

Lokad is a software development company that delivers sales, demand, and call volume forecasts for more than 300 customers—from one-person eCommerce companies to multinational retailers. To improve its forecasting capabilities, the company developed advanced forecasting tools and models. However, the more powerful forecasting models required significantly more computing resources than the company had available. Lokad decided to implement its software-plus-services forecasting application on the Windows Azure™ platform—a quick, efficient process. As a result, Lokad reduced IT maintenance costs compared to traditional approaches, delivered more powerful and accurate forecasts to its customers, and improved its ability to expand into new markets.

Kelley Blue Book: Vehicle Values Provider Saves $100,000 with Easy-to-Manage Software-plus-Services (11/17/2009)

Kelley Blue Book is a premier provider of vehicle pricing information to consumers, automotive dealers, governments, and the finance and insurance industries. The company developed its information-rich, high-traffic Web site using the Microsoft® .NET Framework 3.5 and supports it with two hosted data centers. In an effort to reduce hosting costs and ease management of its infrastructure, Kelley Blue Book decided to implement the Windows Azure™ platform—which proved to be a straightforward process. As a result, Kelley Blue Book is able to reduce capital expenditures for new hardware, increase its competitive advantage by focusing on delivering new features, save U.S.$100,000 annually in hosting costs, and use IT resources more strategically.

Invensys: Firm Uses Internet Service Bus to Enable Smart Grid for Dynamic Energy Savings (11/17/2009)

Invensys Operations Management is out to make it easier and less expensive for small electric utilities in the United States to participate in smart grid, an energy modernization program supported by the U.S. government. Utilities need a high-performance, low-cost way to distribute real-time pricing data to customers so that they can make smarter consumption decisions. Invensys responded by creating a smart grid communications platform using The Service Bus and Access Control Service, both part of the Windows Azure™ platform. The resulting platform enables utilities to immediately embrace smart grid services at affordable prices. Such services will help utility customers save money by using energy more wisely. Invensys developed its pilot solution in just three months as part of a plan to realize increased revenues from selling smart grid–compliant products and services.

Sopima: Software Firm Launches Business Contract Service with Lean Staff, Low Investment (11/17/2009)

Sopima, creator of an online solution for managing business contract life cycles, needed to minimize its capital investment to deliver a viable offering. It also wanted to offer an affordable monthly subscription service to gain new customers quickly. Using the Windows Azure™ platform, the company hosts its application in Microsoft® data centers, providing customers with fast response times and high scalability. With the solution, Sopima has limited its investment in infrastructure and can focus on development rather than hardware administration. Sopima estimates that, without the Windows Azure platform, it would have had to hire additional full-time staff members at an annual cost of approximately U.S.$500,000. Its status as a Microsoft Partner will lend Sopima credibility in a competitive marketplace.

TradeFacilitate: Trade Data Service Scales Online Solution to Global Level with ”Cloud” Services Model (11/17/2009)

TradeFacilitate helps importers and exporters in the European Union to exchange trade data using a paper-free online system. To meet new regulation requirements for preshipment data exchange in the United States, TradeFacilitate sought a solution that would permit the company to scale its applications to a significantly larger market without proportionately adding more personnel and technology resources. The company adopted the Windows Azure™ platform and quickly migrated the code base from its primary application to a “cloud” services model—the hosting and managing of its Web application and services on the Internet through Microsoft® data centers. With Windows Azure, TradeFacilitate quickly developed a scalable and reliable solution that helped the company improve its ability to focus on delivering new services to customers.

AdSlot: Combinatorial Auction Provider Scales Up Quickly, Saves Costs with Cloud Services (11/17/2009)

Tradeslot specializes in designing and building large scale business-to-business and government-to-business (G2B) auctions platforms; its partner company, Adslot, uses the same auction platform to auction online advertising space. The companies use computation-heavy combinatorial auction algorithms to manage their complex conditional bid processes. However, with a lack of compute power with its existing infrastructure, the companies found it necessary to manually add constraints to auctions. Tradeslot and Adslot implemented Windows Azure™ and, as a result, reduced capital costs for customers—from U.S.$60,000 to only $1,000 for each customer, improved their ability to scale up and improve services for customers, saved critical IT resources, and delivered a solution their customers can trust.

Associated Press: Worldwide News Provider Creates New Content Channels with Hosted Computing (11/17/2009)

The Associated Press (AP) is the world’s largest news organization, with bureaus in 97 countries. On average, more than half the world’s population sees news from AP on a given day. AP wanted to broaden its reach by encouraging developers to incorporate AP content into their applications. Using the Microsoft-hosted Windows Azure™ platform, AP created a highly scalable solution that simplifies capacity planning and creates new business opportunities.

TicketDirect: Ticket Seller Finds Ideal Business Solution in Hosted Computing Platform (11/17/2009)

New Zealand–based TicketDirect International has grown into a major ticketing service for venues in Australia and New Zealand. The company’s focus on excellent customer service led it to look for a better way to handle peak system loads during major event ticket sales. Working with Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner Intergen, TicketDirect has begun redesigning its system to work from a “cloud computing” environment using the Windows Azure™ platform. The company is rebuilding its customer application as a Windows Azure application and migrating its data to a Microsoft SQL Azure™ database. By moving to a cloud solution, TicketDirect is able to easily and cost-efficiently scale its computing resources in response to real-time demand while simultaneously giving up the cost of maintaining its own hardware. This move frees IT resources to focus on more customer-centered needs.

Sugar CRM: CRM Vendor Quickly Adapts to New Platform, Adds Global, Scalable Delivery Channel (11/17/2009)

SugarCRM provides open-source customer relationship management (CRM) software and focuses on its “Sugar Open Cloud” strategy, meaning that the company makes its applications available for a variety of on-premises and hosted service platforms. The independent software vendor recently ported its application to the Windows Azure™ platform to enable its customers and value-added resellers to take advantage of real-time scalability, geographically dispersed Microsoft® data centers, and maximum data availability to gain high end performance without investing in additional infrastructure. The ease of deployment and pay-as-you-go pricing will also help customers control IT costs. Thanks to strong support for programming language interoperability within the Windows Azure platform, SugarCRM was able to complete the porting process with two engineers in about two weeks.

Active Web Solutions: Developer Scales Search-and-Rescue Application to Help Save More Lives at Sea (11/17/2009)

Responding to high numbers of deaths at sea in the fishing industry, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution contracted Active Web Solutions (AWS) to create an automated sea-safety application. AWS developed a location-based service infrastructure, code-named GeoPoint, which transmits position data to a centralized tracking and alerting system. AWS used GeoPoint to build MOB Guardian, a search-and-rescue application for fishing vessels. To extend GeoPoint to more scenarios, AWS migrated it to the Windows Azure™ platform. By hosting GeoPoint in the “cloud,” in Microsoft® data centers, AWS attained massive scalability, richer functionality, and lower infrastructure costs. AWS was able to quickly convert its application to a hosted service and avoid the expense of building and managing a data center. AWS also has the flexibility and scalability to offer GeoPoint to many more markets.

Advanced Telemetry: Energy Monitoring Firm Saves Money, Scales Business with Hosted Computing Platform (11/17/2009)

Advanced Telemetry helps businesses monitor and control energy usage both on-premises and remotely with its EcoView system and EcoView Web application. The company has experienced tremendous growth, encouraging it to reexamine the scalability of its computing architecture. To reduce costs, increase scalability, and improve service, Advanced Telemetry is using the Windows Azure™ platform for hosted application and data storage, plus the Visual WebGui application platform from Microsoft® Registered Partner Gizmox to provide rapid development and run-time efficiencies for cloud applications. Advanced Telemetry developers have been able to use existing programming skills and experience with Microsoft development tools to migrate to Windows Azure. This saves the company money, improves functionality, and enables it to easily scale its computing resources to keep up with its rapid growth.

Glympse: Location-Sharing Solution Provider Gains Productivity, Agility with Hosted Services (11/17/2009)

Glympse provides a Web-based location-sharing solution for use with GPS-enabled phones. The company constantly evaluates available hosting services to ensure that it is taking advantage of all that technology has to offer. Glympse turned to the Windows Azure™ platform because it offered integrated development tools and less of a management burden than the hosting service from Amazon that Glympse was using. Glympse found that the performance and developer effectiveness possible with the Windows Azure platform surpasses those offered by the Amazon service. Glympse also gains credibility by offering a Microsoft-hosted solution, particularly with regard to stability and scalability. Perhaps most importantly, working with Windows Azure means that Glympse can be more responsive to customer needs because it can focus on improving its solution features rather than on infrastructure maintenance.


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