Microsoft Windows Azure - Core Motives Software Development Company Delivers Viable Solution Case Study
Windows AzurePartner Solution Case Study00Marketing Automation Company Delivers Scalable, Viable Solution with Cloud Services<br />OverviewCountry or Region: United StatesIndustry: Software developmentPartner ProfileCoreMotives develops marketing automation solutions that capture interactions across websites and email marketing campaigns, delivering business intelligence for customers who use Microsoft Dynamics CRM.Business SituationAs CoreMotives began to acquire new customers, it outgrew its hosted server infrastructure. The company wanted a cloud-based solution that would offer high scalability, reliability, and security.SolutionCoreMotives migrated its solution to the Windows Azure platform, using Web roles and Worker roles to capture website traffic and turn it into actionable business intelligence. BenefitsIncreases scalabilitySpeeds time-to-marketEnhances security and reliabilityImproves competitive advantage“At best, we would still be trying to find another cloud solution. At worst, without Windows Azure, we’d be out of business.”Rhett Thompson, Cofounder, CoreMotivesCoreMotives develops marketing automation solutions for small and midsize businesses that use Microsoft Dynamics CRM. As the company acquired new customers, it started to outgrow its server infrastructure, which was hosted by a third party. For instance, the company experienced significant delays in processing business intelligence for its customers—sometimes taking up to 14 hours, which was unacceptable in a situation where customers expect near real-time results. After evaluating several cloud services providers, CoreMotives decided to migrate its solution to the Windows Azure platform to take advantage of scalable storage, processing power, and hosting provided by Microsoft. As a result, the company increased its ability to scale up quickly, improved its time-to-market, and now has a reliable infrastructure—all helping to improve the company’s competitive advantage. <br />Situation<br />Founded by a group of marketing and technology experts, CoreMotives develops business-to-business marketing automation and lead generation software that enables marketing and sales teams to detect, track, and target potential customers. The company’s marketing automation suite integrates with and enhances Microsoft Dynamics CRM, providing business intelligence for customers’ website traffic and email marketing initiatives. <br />Based in Atlanta, Georgia, CoreMotives has quickly grown from a handful of customers to a leader in the marketing field for clients who use Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The company has seen tremendous success and now serves larger corporations and customers around the world, including Finland-based Tekla, a software engineering corporation that specializes in model-based software products for the construction industry. With CoreMotives, customers like Tekla can track the behavior of people who visit their websites—including which links they visited, which forms they submitted, which documents they downloaded—and tie that behavior back to Microsoft Dynamics CRM contacts and leads. Customers can also track the success of email marketing campaigns by capturing not only click-through rates, but by also capturing and analyzing the behavior of visitors once they have clicked through to a website or other online service from the email. CoreMotives delivers these analytics through Microsoft Dynamics CRM, customer relationship management software that is familiar to many marketing and sales teams. <br />CoreMotives runs its solution using a cloud-based computing model—that is, the hosting of applications online through the Internet. The company rented server space to run its marketing analytics solution from a third-party hosting provider. However, as CoreMotives acquired more customers and processed more transactions, it began to outgrow its hosting provider. Reliability became a critical issue for the company as it worked to quickly deliver business intelligence to customers. When server processes at its hosting provider topped 70 percent utilization for more than five minutes, the hosting company would simply shut down jobs. “Imagine us processing Web interactions for our customers and our jobs being shut down. It was simply unacceptable,” says Rhett Thompson, Cofounder at CoreMotives. <br />Similarly, the company wanted a more secure solution—one that would meet customers’ rigorous security and compliance standards. “All of our customers are concerned about security, but some of them, such as banks and defense contractors, are very strict about security and ask pointed questions about the security of their data,” explains Thompson. “It’s not enough to say your infrastructure is secure, you have to be able to prove it.”<br />CoreMotives also sought a scalable solution that would better support its growing business and easily handle burst traffic. “In worst cases, it could take up to 14 hours before we could catch up and process all of the transactions for a single marketing campaign. In our business, that is unacceptable. Our customers expect near real-time results, not 14 hours,” explains Thompson.<br />Solution<br />Because the cost of procuring and managing server hardware on premises would be cost-prohibitive for the small company, CoreMotives explored other cloud-based solutions for delivering its marketing automation suite. The company considered Rackspace hosting, Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2), and the Windows Azure platform from Microsoft.<br />“Whereas Windows Azure offers an infrastructure integrated with Microsoft Visual Studio that helps us instantly activate updated versions of our solution and control how we manage resources, the other providers essentially only offered rented virtual machines,” says Thompson. <br />In November 2009, after participating in an event sponsored by the Microsoft BizSpark program where the CoreMotives team was able to evaluate the platform, the company decided to migrate its existing solution to the Windows Azure platform. Windows Azure serves as the development, service hosting, and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform. It provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage web applications on the Internet through Microsoft data centers. “With reliability and scalability at the top of our minds, we saw what Windows Azure could do and the power that it had,” says Thompson. In addition, Microsoft data centers meet compliance standards and other key accreditations for information security, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 27001:2005, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) 70 Type II. “Customers, such as Tekla, ask us if the data centers we use are SAS-certified; with Windows Azure, we can provide our customers that level of security,” Thompson says. Even though CoreMotives is a small business, the company has the leadership, experience, and trust in the Microsoft brand behind it, along with security standards, by using Windows Azure.<br />“We can go head-to-head with industry-leading, enterprise marketing automation companies thanks to running our solution in Microsoft data centers.”Rhett Thompson, Cofounder, CoreMotives<br />CoreMotives uses Web roles in Windows Azure to capture traffic details as people visit customers’ websites. The company uses Worker roles in Windows Azure to host the logic and process the traffic, matching visitor information and behaviors with the information that customers have stored in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. “We churn through a lot of information. With Worker roles, we can detect anonymous visitors, known visitors, leads, contacts, and behavioral information, such as which links visitors click, and send that information to Microsoft Dynamics CRM,” explains Thompson. As the company grows, or during periods of burst traffic, CoreMotives can quickly create new roles to handle load. <br />The company also developed an account provisioning system that is powered by Windows Azure. With the provisioning system, CoreMotives does not have to visit customer locations and set up servers and databases on premises like many of its competitors do. Instead, the provisioning system connects to and installs the CoreMotives solution directly into a customer’s instance of Microsoft Dynamics CRM—the on-premises version, hosted version, or online version of the software.<br />CoreMotives also uses Microsoft SQL Azure to store the relational data that it captures. Microsoft SQL Azure is a cloud-based relational database service built on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 technologies. It provides a highly available and scalable database service hosted by Microsoft. CoreMotives implemented SQL Azure in a multitenant environment so that it can store data on a per-customer basis, keeping each customer’s data isolated. <br />Benefits<br />Since replacing its third-party hosting infrastructure with the Windows Azure platform, CoreMotives has dramatically improved its ability to quickly scale up to meet demand and bring enhancements and services to market faster, both of which contribute to the future success of the company. CoreMotives also has a trustworthy solution that the company and its customers can rely upon. <br />Increased Scalability<br />By using Windows Azure, CoreMotives can quickly scale up to handle a steadily increasing number of transactions and the unpredictable burst traffic that it processes when customers run successful marketing campaigns. “Scalability is crucial to our success,” says Thompson. “To provide our customers with a valuable service, we need to process business intelligence and deliver it in near real time. With Windows Azure, we can do that.” In fact, the company can now process high volumes of transactions during peak periods in just 24 seconds. “From 14 hours to 24 seconds—now that’s amazing. With the amount of transactions that we process during marketing campaigns, there is no way that we’d be able to process and deliver that data in a reasonable amount of time; our business would suffer,” explains Thompson. “At best, we would still be trying to find another cloud solution. At worst, without Windows Azure, we’d be out of business.”<br />“The rest of the world is starting to move in the direction of cloud-based computing, and if you’re going to compete in this marketplace, you need to get there fast without compromising the user experience.”Rhett Thompson, Cofounder, CoreMotives<br />Decreased Time-to-Market<br />As a small company, CoreMotives runs lean operations and does not have the resources to dedicate to building and managing the infrastructure required for the volume of business it does. By using Windows Azure and relying on Microsoft to manage the infrastructure, CoreMotives can focus on its business and direct efforts where its expertise lies: delivering high-value marketing automation solutions. <br />In addition, by using a cloud-based infrastructure, CoreMotives can provision new user accounts in less than 15 minutes. “In the CRM market in general, it can take weeks to set up solutions for customers,” explains Thompson. “Instead of going on premises and setting up servers and databases at the customer’s location, we built a cloud-based provisioning system on Windows Azure that provisions new accounts in less than 15 minutes—that’s basically unheard of until now.”<br />Security-Enhanced, Reliable Infrastructure<br />CoreMotives now has a reliable infrastructure that also complies with standards, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, SAS 70 Type II, and ISO 27001:2005 accreditation. “We can go head-to-head with industry-leading, enterprise marketing automation companies thanks to running our solution in Microsoft data centers,” explains Thompson. The fact that CoreMotives uses Microsoft data centers is critical to many of its customers. “One of the reasons we decided to implement CoreMotives is because we know that our information is more secure in Microsoft data centers,” says Jukka Niiranen, Global CRM Manager at Tekla. “In addition, we have offices around the world, so having a distributed worldwide data center presence helps eliminate latency. With Windows Azure, we know that CoreMotives can deliver on its promises.”<br />Improved Competitive Advantage<br />CoreMotives is excited to be on the leading edge of technology and an early adopter of cloud-based computing in its industry. “The rest of the world is starting to move in the direction of cloud-based computing, and if you’re going to compete in this marketplace, you need to get there fast without compromising the user experience,” says Thompson. “Whether we’re releasing updates, deploying new features, or adding new Web roles, we can do it all—and do it well—with Windows Azure.”<br />Software and ServicesWindows Azure PlatformWindows AzureMicrosoft SQL AzureMicrosoft DynamicsMicrosoft Dynamics CRMServicesMicrosoft BizSparkThis case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.Document published June 2010For More InformationFor more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:www.microsoft.comFor more information about CoreMotives products and services, call (404) 537-2320 or visit the website at: www.coremotives.comAdditional Resources:Training: Channel9 Windows Azure Training CourseDownload: Windows Azure Training KitDownload: Windows Azure SDK White paper: Security Best Practices for Developing on the Windows Azure PlatformWindows Azure Platform<br />The Windows Azure platform provides an excellent foundation for expanding online product and service offerings. The main components include:<br />Windows Azure. Windows Azure is the development, service hosting, and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage web applications on the Internet through Microsoft data centers.<br />Microsoft SQL Azure. Microsoft SQL Azure offers the first cloud-based relational and self-managed database service built on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 technologies.<br />Windows Azure platform AppFabric. With Windows Azure platform AppFabric, developers can build and manage applications more easily both on-premises and in the cloud.<br />AppFabric Service Bus connects services and applications across network boundaries to help developers build distributed applications.<br />AppFabric Access Control provides federated, claims-based access control for REST web services.<br />Microsoft "
Developers and information workers can use the new service code-named Dallas to easily discover, purchase, and manage premium data subscriptions in the Windows Azure platform.<br />To learn more about the Windows Azure platform, visit: www.windowsazure.com<br />