Microsoft Windows Azure - Dream Factory Software Combines Data Across Clouds Case Study
Customer: DreamFactory SoftwareCountry or Region: United StatesIndustry: Professional services—SoftwareCustomer OverviewDreamFactory is a leading publisher of rich Web applications in the cloud, which are accessed via the Internet. Combining the agility of on-demand delivery with the performance of desktop applications, the DreamFactory Suite delivers enterprise-class project, document, and data collaboration applications to more than 4,000 businesses. DreamFactory is based in Campbell, California.Business ResultsAbility to merge data from different cloud-based data centersRapid time-to-market for initial migration and ongoing upgradesPerformance improvement of up to 30 percent versus other cloudsGateway to growth opportunitiesProfileChief Technology OfficerDuring 25 years in the software business, Eric Rubin and Bill Appleton have seen organizations struggle to implement big, expensive, packaged software applications. Then, when software as a service emerged as a deployment option in the 1990s, they saw that it provided deployment and maintenance efficiencies, but companies often ended up with a one-size-fits-all solution that failed to meet their specific needs.<br />In 2005, as “cloud computing”—running applications in hosted data centers—progressed, Rubin and Appleton joined forces to launch DreamFactory Software. The company’s aim is to combine the agility of on-demand application delivery with the performance and customization of on-premises applications. DreamFactory created a suite of eight workgroup productivity tools encompassing enterprise-grade project, document, and data collaboration capabilities, which are delivered over the Internet. The tools integrate easily with popular online software such as Salesforce.com customer relationship management and the Intuit QuickBase database. Today, more than 4,000 businesses use DreamFactory tools in combination with business data residing in Amazon Web Services, Intuit Workplace, Cisco Webex Connect, and Force.com.<br />Workhorse Cloud Platform<br />When customers started asking DreamFactory if it would support the Windows Azure platform, Chief Executive Officer Rubin and Chief Technology Officer Appleton immediately put it in their strategic plan. “We knew that Microsoft would be a major cloud provider and that customers would want to run their applications on Windows Azure and be able to interoperate with other clouds,” Rubin says. “Our strategy is to be able to run on and interoperate with all of the critical cloud platforms, so we immediately moved to support Windows Azure.”<br />One thing that Rubin and Appleton liked about Windows Azure was its breadth, providing operating system, development, storage, and service management capabilities. “It’s not just a place to store data but a powerful development and processing platform,” Rubin says. “Microsoft will undoubtedly be a major player in enterprise cloud computing, and Windows Azure opens up opportunities for us in corporate IT that we wouldn’t have with other cloud platforms.”<br />Adds Appleton, “Windows Azure is a powerful combination of enterprise-grade cloud computing capabilities and commodity pricing. Plus, the performance is great. We initially thought that the role of a backbone workhorse platform could be met by Amazon alone. But we found that the Windows Azure platform, with its fully relational database, offers us the most complete development and deployment infrastructure.”<br />Data Merged Between Clouds<br />Companies can run DreamFactory tools on Windows Azure and store data in Micros“Windows Azure was built from the ground up with interoperability in mind. Developers can use just about any language or development tool to build their application, run it on Windows Azure, and consume data from any other cloud or on on-premises platform.”Bill Appleton, Chief Technology Officer, DreamFactory Softwareoft SQL Azure. But to Rubin and Appleton, the real power comes from combining the DreamFactory tools with data from other cloud databases. For example, within a DreamFactory workspace running on Windows Azure, a company might pull sales data from Force.com and financial data from Intuit Workplace and combine it with corporate data in SQL Azure. Moreover, customers can collaborate on related documents and manage structured projects inside workspaces in Windows Azure.<br />“Windows Azure was built from the ground up with interoperability in mind,” Appleton says. “Developers can use just about any language or development tool to build their application, run it on Windows Azure, and consume data from any other cloud or on-premises platform. Using DreamFactory tools, users can then drag, drop, and connect applications and data between clouds,” Appleton says. “We bring a new level of interoperability to cloud computing.”<br />Rapid Time-to-Market<br />DreamFactory was able to migrate its tools to Windows Azure in less than four weeks. “Not only was the time-to-market significant, but we also had much richer development capabilities than other cloud platforms provide,” Appleton says. “The BLOB Storage service was very familiar, and the Table service was very complete.” The Windows Azure BLOB (Binary Large Object) Storage service provides unstructured data storage, and the Table service provides structured data storage.<br />“Development speed is very important to us to support our business model,” Rubin says. “We continuously improve our products based on customer feedback, and time-to-market is critical in making this model work. The sophisticated development services in Windows Azure enable us to deliver faster and widen the gap between us and the competition.”<br />Great Performance Plus Growth Opportunities<br />Not only can DreamFactory quickly enhance its tools on Windows Azure, but it also can make them run faster. “The performance of Windows Azure is impressive,” Appleton says. “We benefit from as much as a 30 percent performance increase over similar cloud computing offerings. This enables us to scale applications for enterprise customers without concerns about performance.”<br />For DreamFactory, Windows Azure provides big growth opportunities. “The Windows operating system offers the largest potential deployment platform for on-premises applications, and Windows Azure offers the same potential in cloud environments,” Rubin says. “With Microsoft, we have an opportunity to access a whole new universe of customers, especially as more corporate IT staffs move to cloud computing. Microsoft is the first cloud service available for building applications of any type with strong enough features for enterprise applications. We also believe that Microsoft has the ability to bring IT departments to the cloud en masse and that this will be beneficial to providers on any cloud.”<br />Please continue reading for profile perspectives.<br />Chief Technology Officer ProfileHow We Blend Applications from Different Clouds <br />Bill AppletonChief Technology OfficerDreamFactory SoftwareBill Appleton is an expert on service-oriented architectures, rich media authoring tools, and user interface development. He has written more than two dozen commercial software publications and has worked closely with Disney, Paramount, Viacom, and Bandai to build creative vehicles for content development.“The Windows Azure platform is the first cloud service targeted at the needs of enterprise IT departments. The table sizes, BLOB limits, partitioning capability, and performance are great for the cost profile.”<br />An application developed with the DreamFactory Interactive Development Environment can run natively on multiple cloud platforms using a single code base. Currently supported deployment environments include Windows Azure, Force.com, Intuit Workplace, Amazon Web Services, and Cisco WebEx Connect.<br />“We have a ‘blend’ software layer that enables the interoperation between different cloud platforms,” says Bill Appleton, Chief Technology Officer for DreamFactory Software. The blend layer is a software abstraction that blends the DreamFactory applications running in different cloud platforms into a single application programming interface (API).<br />From the user perspective, running a DreamFactory application is similar to embedding an animation or a movie file on a Web page. There is a client player that “plays” the application content. The player implements a security sandbox that protects local files and other private network assets. The player is carefully written to minimize contact with the local machine, but also to allow access to certain external Web-based assets or local desktop files under user control. DreamFactory does not host any user data; rather, all communication is conducted directly through an encrypted Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) pipeline with Windows Azure or other cloud platforms, where data is stored.<br />Migrating DreamFactory applications to the Windows Azure platform was a straightforward process, according to Appleton. “It took us under a month to get DreamFactory applications running on Windows Azure,” he says. “The process went very smoothly. The BLOB Storage service was very familiar, and we liked the fact that the Table service placed no limits on table field sizes. We also had the ability to transmit updates and deletions together as a set, which helps our customers reduce the costs of Internet transactions. The support for Gzip compression and coding upload and download also reduces the cost of Internet transactions. Other table services do not have one or more of these features, and that makes it difficult to work with them in an enterprise context.”<br />Another benefit provided by Windows Azure is the pay-as-you-go pricing model, which enables customers to use processing and storage capacity on an as-needed basis. They can easily scale up during peak periods of activity and scale down as less power or space is needed.<br />“The Windows Azure platform is the first cloud service targeted at the needs of enterprise IT departments,” Appleton states. “The table sizes, BLOB limits, partitioning capability, and performance are great for the cost profile.”<br />Business Results<br />DreamFactory took less than a month to migrate its applications to Windows Azure.<br />BLOB Storage service was familiar, and Table service placed no limits on table field size.<br />Support for Gzip compression and coding upload/download reduces cost of Internet transactions for customers.<br />Pay-as-you-go pricing model enables customers to purchase processing and storage as needed.<br />For 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 DreamFactory products and services, call (650) 641-1800 or visit the Web site at:www.dreamfactory.com<br />This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.Document published April 2010<br />Windows 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:<br />www.windowsazure.comSoftware and ServicesWindows Azure PlatformWindows AzureBLOB StorageMicrosoft SQL Azure Table service Linkswww.microsoft.com/windowsazure <br />