Microsoft SQL Azure Customer Solution Case Study WebFirm Saves $30,000 Annually, Expands Global Growth with Cloud Database ServiceOverview ―We are proud of having achievedSQL Azure andCountry or Region:ItalyIndustry:Professional services—Software Windows Azurecompatibility, which will allow us toengineering further shorten our release and development times andCustomer Profile increase both scalability and performance.‖EdisonWeb is anindependent software Riccardo D’Angelo, Chief Executive Officer, EdisonWebvendor whose Web Signage applicationprovides an easy way to create andmanage content for digital signs.EdisonWeb is based in MirabellaImbaccari, Italy. In 2009, Italian software developer EdisonWeb launched WebBusiness Situation Signage, an application that retailers and other organizationsEdisonWeb hosted Web Signagedatabase content in Microsoft SQL Server use to manage content for digital signs used in retail stores andrunning on on-premises servers, a model other venues. However, hosting the application in an on-that burdened the firm with high costsand limited its ability to grow its premises infrastructure was expensive and limited the company’sbusiness. ability to expand beyond Italy. EdisonWeb added the WindowsSolution Azure platform as a deployment option for Web Signage, whichEdisonWeb gave customers the more enabled the company to store key elements of the application inaffordable option to run Web Signagefrom the Windows Azure platform, Microsoft SQL Azure, a cloud-based relational database service.storing data in Microsoft SQL Azure, By using SQL Azure, EdisonWeb is realizing savings of nearlywhere it is available globally. U.S.$30,000 a year and can now expand internationally withoutBenefits the expense of setting up and managing a global server Flexible pay-as-you-go pricing Free to grow internationally infrastructure. Customers enjoy a more cost-effective service, More flexibility for customers and EdisonWeb can focus on developing great software rather Faster pace of innovation than managing servers.
―It was difficult to Situation for the whole server infrastructure.‖ Also, EdisonWeb is an independent software EdisonWeb had to manage the applicationexpand our services vendor that specializes in developing and database servers—apply security innovative web-based solutions for updates, monitor performance, andoutside of Italy with an commercial and government customers. routinely upgrade software and hardware—on-premises Established in 1996, EdisonWeb develops which consumed precious IT resources. applications for e-government, healthcare,infrastructure.‖ info-mobility, tourism, and digital Additionally, the company’s flexible marketing companies that require high- licensing model did not fit well with aVittorio Polizzi, Chief Technology Officer, EdisonWeb performance and easy-to-use solutions. standard on-premises infrastructure,which EdisonWeb is a Microsoft Gold Certified presented recurring costs that were Partner based in Mirabella Imbaccari, Italy. disconnectedfrom server usage. In 2009, EdisonWeb developed Web The biggest challenge, though, was that Signage, a software platform that helps EdisonWeb wanted to grow its Web businesses manage interactive and non- Signage business but could not move interactive digital signs, such as in-store beyond Italy without significant work and projectors, digital billboards, and expense. ―It was difficult to expand our information signs in public facilities. services outside of Italy with an on- Companies can also broadcast audio clips premises infrastructure,‖ Polizzi says. ―The to in-store radios and send Bluetooth performance was often insufficientwhen we messages over its platform. Customers use tried to stream video content across long the PC-based Web Signage Player software distances. For every new country, we would for audio/video content playback, and the have to establish relationships with local web-based Web Signage Server Platform to telecommunications companies, set up create and distribute content to the player servers in those countries, and then machines, manage the player network,and manage them remotely. Managing a analyze audience response data. transnational network with an on-premises infrastructure would require a great deal of EdisonWeb hosted the Web Signage server capital and work.‖ applicationon on-premises servers and stored content metadata, user account Solution information, and part of application logic, In late 2009, EdisonWeb began to evaluate in databases runningMicrosoft SQL Server cloud service providers that could host data management software. Web Signage in the cloud—in a network of third-party global data centers, delivering However, hosting Web Signage in local the application and data to customers over data centers presented barriers to the Internet with a level of scalability, EdisonWeb. ―We allow customers to rent flexibility, and economy that was not player licenses by the month and turn them possible with an on-premises infrastructure. off when they’re not using them, such as EdisonWeb considered a few solutions, during low retail seasons,‖ explains Vittorio including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud Polizzi, Chief Technology Officer for (EC2), but in the end it chose the Windows EdisonWeb. ―But with an on-premises Azure platform from Microsoft. infrastructure, we still had to pay for SQL Server licenses even when we weren’t using ―Web Signage is a Microsoft-based them, and we had a steady capital exposure application, and we have in-depth
experience with the Microsoft .NET far more cost effectively,‖ Polizzi says. ―We Framework and the Microsoft development no longer needed to purchase licenses for environment,‖ Polizzi says. ―Also, we found each physical instance of SQL Server.‖ the Windows Azure platform much more suitable than the other cloud services In June 2010, EdisonWeb made the because of its comprehensive services and Windows Azure version of Web Signage the ease of porting our web application to available. It took the company four months the cloud without losing compatibility with to migrate the Web Signage application to on-premise deployments. The Windows Windows Azure but only two weeks to Azure platform was simpler to manage migrate the database portion to SQL Azure. because of its platform-as–a-service ―Moving our code to SQL Azure was easy,‖ approach, more flexible, and also offered a Polizzi says. ―We had to change some code, relational database service [with Microsoft but we didn’t have to change anything in SQL Azure], which Amazon did not have.‖ the database schema. Our developers were able to use the very same tools that they Database Moved in Two Weeks use in working with SQL Server.‖ Microsoft SQL Azure, part of the Windows Azure platform and hosted by Microsoft, is Global Data Delivery a cloud-based relational database service Customers that opt to deploy Web Signage built on SQL Server technologies. SQL in Windows Azure enjoy the same Azure Database provides a highly scalable, application functionality and appearanceCustomers install the Web multi-tenant architecture that allows that they do with the on-premises version.Signage player software on their multiple tenants to share a common EdisonWeb uses SQL Azure to store allPCs, but sign data can be stored underlying infrastructure while isolating multimedia content metadata,in Microsoft SQL Azure and each tenant’s data. ―SQL Azure offers many configuration and statistical information,accessed over the web. of the features available in SQL Server 2008, and user credentials. It also stores part of the application business logic in SQL Azure. EdisonWeb stores actual sign content by using Windows Azure Blob Storageand delivers content through the Microsoft Content Delivery Network (CDN), which caches publicly available blobs at strategic locations to provide maximum bandwidth. This flexibility makes it possible for customers to manage content in one country while delivering itto a different country. Blob storage is a collection of binary data stored as a single entity in a database and used primarily to hold multimedia objects such as images, videos, and sound. ―If we have a customer in Italy that wants to expand in Brazil, they can easily do so now,‖ Polizzi says. ―The customer can manage their digital signage content from
―The math is very Web Signage Platform in Italy but send with it. ―We can federate our network and relevant content to players in Brazil.‖ create a digital signage marketplace,‖compelling. In addition Polizzi says. ―DataMarket could help us Coming Soon: Data Mash-Ups here, and let us supply additional servicesto offering Web Signage Now that Web Signage is running on the to customers.‖on Windows Azure and Windows Azure platform, EdisonWeb is working to optimize and expand it. It is BenefitsSQL Azure, we are evaluating the Windows Azure AppFabric, By offering the Windows Azure platform as specifically the AppFabric Service Bus, as a a Web Signage deployment option,planning to move all our way for customers to link Web Signage to EdisonWeb anticipates saving nearlydatabases to SQL Azure.‖ other applications. AppFabric Service Bus U.S.$30,000 a year in database-related provides security-enhanced connectivity costs and has removed barriers to growth.Vittorio Polizzi, Chief Technology Officer, between loosely coupled services and Customers will continue to pay for the level EdisonWeb applications, enabling them to navigate of service they need, with pay-as-you-go firewalls or network boundaries. scalability. With Web Signage for Windows Azure, EdisonWeb introduced the first Web Signage implements a set of custom digital signage and proximity marketing Windows Communication Foundation solution using Windows Azure and SQL servicesthat it calls Open Communication Azure. Rapid development was possible Interface, which makes it possible for third- due to the ability to reuse existing party solutions to connect to the service to code.And because its developers always create content and plan advertising have access to the latest versions of SQL campaigns on a digital signage network. Azure and Windows Azure technologies, ―We’re interested in using AppFabric EdisonWeb can accelerate its pace of Service Bus to let third-party applications innovation. use our communications interface without changing their security settings,‖ Polizzi Flexible Pay-As-You-Go Pricing says. ―With Service Bus, a customer can, for By using SQL Azure and Windows Azure, example, link their point-of-sale solution EdisonWeb can significantly reduce its running on their own servers with Web infrastructure costs and offer customers a Signage to advertise slow-selling products.‖ cheaper pricing model. The company currently maintains 50 physical databases. EdisonWeb also plans to use Windows When it migratesthem all to SQL Azure, Azure Marketplace DataMarket, a cloud- EdisonWeb will avoid the cost of upgrading based data marketplace and another to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and replacing component of the Windows Azure the physical servers—a $50,000 expense. platform, to easily locate third-party data Depreciated over the five-year life of the sources, web services, and applications that hardware, this is an annual savings of it can combine with Web Signage. So- $10,000 for hardware, software licenses, called data mash-ups combine data from and consulting. Add to this an estimated multiple sources—such as Web Signage $25,000 annually for maintenance and and a database of a company’s sales by bandwidth fees, and the cost avoidance region—to give customers new insights totals $35,000 a year. For its application, into their data. Because Web Signage EdisonWeb pays about $6,000 a year to use exposes functionality through Windows SQL Azure, so it saves $29,000 a year. Communication Foundation service interfaces, other applications can connect
―Our digital signage ―The math is very compelling,‖ Polizzi says. expensive Web Signage service and scale ―In addition to offering Web Signage on up their processing power and databaseplatform supplied over a Windows Azure and SQL Azure, we are capacity to follow their business growth,‖ planning to move all our databases to SQL Polizzi says. ―Windows Azure and SQLcloud-based service Azure.‖ Azure provide more flexibility and costallows us to launch a effectiveness for customers.‖ EdisonWeb will also save on databasenew network in a few software licensing when customers scale Microsoft cloud services also offer higher their infrastructure. Some retail customers availability. Web Signage was originallyhours, achieving have seasonal advertising needs, and implemented as a single-tenant application,performance, reliability, EdisonWeb allows them to suddenly add or meaning that each customer had its own remove players as needed; they simply database server. By using Windows Azure,and ease of send EdisonWeb an email message. Now, EdisonWeb also has the option of when a customer changes the number of implementing an isolated Windows Azureadministration active licenses, EdisonWeb can scale the and SQL Azure service for each customer,unmatched by traditional number of Windows Azure instances delivering single-tenant security at lower accordingly. prices. ―With Windows Azure, ansolutions.‖ application error or service failure cannot Free to Grow Internationally cause a massive service disruption,‖ Polizzi Riccardo DAngelo, Chief Executive Officer, EdisonWeb The move to the cloud also helps says. ―SQL Azure is not only less expensive, EdisonWeb expand internationally. ―With it’s safer.‖ Windows Azure and SQL Azure, it’s easier for us to deliver our service outside the Faster Pace of Innovation Italian borders,‖ says Polizzi. ―We simply Because of the consistency between SQL choose the closest Microsoft data center Server and SQL Azure, EdisonWeb from which to deliver the service. If we developers were able to port Web Signage want to deliver the Web Signage service to data to the Windows Azure platform in just a customer in China, we don’t have to put two weeks, enabling it to be first to market servers on a plane and fly them there. I can with a digital signage offering based on manage the deployment processfrom Windows Azure. ―We are proud of having Europe and deliver the Web Signage server achieved SQL Azure and Windows Azure application from a Microsoft data center in compatibility, which will allow us to further Hong Kong. With SQL Azure and Windows shorten our release and development times Azure, we can offer our service anywhere— and increase both scalability and and deliver it tomorrow.‖ performance,‖ says Riccardo D’Angelo, Chief Executive Officer for EdisonWeb. Integrating third-party data sources ―Web Signage is attracting the attention of through the Windows Azure Marketplace communications professionals, advertising DataMarket will also give EdisonWeb more agents, and the media, which have found opportunity to grow. that our digital signage platform supplied over a cloud-based service allows us to More Flexibility, Availability for launch a new network in a few hours, Customers achieving performance, reliability, and ease By reducing its IT infrastructure costs, of administration unmatched by traditional EdisonWeb can lower prices for customers. solutions.‖ ―If we have a customer with a small network, we can start them off with a less
For More Information EdisonWeb developers can quickly roll out Windows Azure PlatformFor more information about Microsoft new features of the service because they The Windows Azure platform provides anproducts and services, call the Microsoft always have access to the latest Microsoft excellent foundation for expanding onlineSales Information Center at (800) 426- software. ―With SQL Azure, we can deliver product and service offerings. The main9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft future versions of our product faster components include:Canada Information Centre at (877) 568- because we are always up-to-date in the2495. Customers in the United States and cloud,‖ Polizzi says. ―Also, with Microsoft Microsoft SQL Azure. Microsoft SQLCanada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing managing our database infrastructure, our Azure offers the first cloud-basedcan reach Microsoft text telephone staff can focus on developing great relational and self-managed database(TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. software and supporting customers. Our service built on Microsoft SQL ServerOutside the 50 United States and staff has more time to work on the technologies.Canada, please contact your local application rather than maintaining Windows Azure. Windows Azure is theMicrosoft subsidiary. To access servers.‖ development, service hosting, andinformation using the World Wide Web, service management environment for thego to: In short, EdisonWeb believes that it has Windows Azure platform. Windowswww.microsoft.com made both good business and technical Azure provides developers with on- decisions by adopting the Windows Azure demand compute and storage to host,For more information about EdisonWeb platform. ―We think that we can glean scale, and manage web applications onproducts and services, call (39) (0) 933 99 greater benefits from Windows Azure than the Internet through Microsoft data11 99 or visit the websites any other,‖ Polizzi says. ―Microsoft is centers.at:www.edisonweb.comor supplying the best cloud services out there Windows Azure AppFabric. Withwww.websignage.eu and is working to take the cloud closer to Windows Azure AppFabric, developers developers and to make the transition to can build and manage applications more the cloud very easy.‖ easily both on-premises and in the cloud. − AppFabric Service Bus connects services and applications across network boundaries to help developers build distributed applications. − AppFabric Access Control provides federated, claims-based access control for REST web services. Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket. Developers and information workers can use the new service DataMarket to easily discover, purchase, and manage premium data subscriptions in the Windows Azure platform. To learn more, visit: www.sqlazure.com Software and Services Windows Azure Platform − Windows Azure − Microsoft SQL AzureThis case study is for informational purposes only.MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS ORIMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.Document published November 2010