Microsoft Windows Azure - Ishir Software Development Attracts New Customers Case Study
Microsoft Customer SolutionPartner Solution Case Study00IT Company Attracts New Customers at Minimal Cost with Cloud Computing Solution<br />OverviewCountry or Region: United StatesIndustry: Software developmentPartner ProfileISHIR Infotech is an outsourced product development company. With extensive experience in the product development lifecycle, ISHIR helps emerging software leaders bring superior products to market.Business SituationISHIR wanted to transform its in-house Vendor Management Solution (VMS) application into a commercially-viable solution, but without changing its business model and without capital expenses.SolutionThe company evaluated several service providers, but chose Windows Azure and Microsoft SQL Azure to quickly migrate its existing application to the cloud.BenefitsGained fast time to marketOpened new market opportunitiesAvoided capital expenditures“Because we had no capital expenses in delivering VMS with Windows Azure, that is a $150,000 savings that translates into savings for our customers.”Rishi Khanna, Managing Director, ISHIRISHIR Infotech, a product development company that outsources talent to emerging software companies, often serves as a master vendor for its clients, managing other tiered vendors. To support the complicated vendor management process, the company developed a Web-based application called the Vendor Management Solution (VMS) for its own use. ISHIR saw the opportunity to offer VMS to other consultancies and staffing agencies in the IT industry and extend its own services. However, the company could only bring its application to market if it could do so without significant capital expenses. After evaluating several options, the company chose the Windows Azure platform to migrate its existing application to the cloud. As a result, ISHIR quickly brought VMS to market and opened up new opportunities to extend its service offerings, while saving at least U.S.$150,000 in capital expenses.<br />Situation<br />Headquartered in Irving, Texas, ISHIR Infotech is a global diversified outsourced product development company in the IT industry and a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. The company’s core business is setting up dedicated offshore software development teams for outsourced product development, game development, software maintenance, and independent software testing, while still providing local project management. ISHIR operates with a philosophy of “offshore software services with local presence,” and has a development center in Uttar Pradesh, India, and offices throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.<br />As an outsourcing partner and vendor for its clients, ISHIR also developed an affinity for the vendor management process. Any of its clients can work with multiple vendors for several projects at any one time, so managing vendors—from sourcing candidates to managing performance to approving time cards—can be a time-consuming and costly process for clients. Because of that, instead of hiring additional full-time, permanent employees to manage multiple vendors, many companies hire a master vendor—a vendor that not only manages its projects, but also manages other tiered vendors.<br />ISHIR is often contracted to serve as a master vendor for its clients. To manage the complex processes, the company developed the Vendor Management System (VMS), a Web-based application that was built on the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5. VMS enables ISHIR, as a master vendor, to manage candidate sourcing, assignments, and other processes for tier-1, tier-2, and tier-3 vendors. It also takes advantage of workflows to ensure seamless processes for the client in terms of securing the appropriate approvals for hiring temporary employees.<br />Though ISHIR initially developed VMS for its own use when it works as a master vendor, the company saw an immediate need in the marketplace for the solution. ISHIR wanted to bring VMS to market as a solution that other companies could use to manage vendors in the IT industry, which would extend the value of outsourcing for its customers.<br />However, with a traditional client-server model with an on-premises infrastructure, ISHIR would have to make a dramatic change to its business model to bring the solution to market. For instance, the company would have to procure server hardware and software, manage data centers, and hire additional personnel to maintain the infrastructure, a model that was not desirable. “We are in the business of outsourced product development, not infrastructure management,” explains Rishi Khanna, Managing Director at ISHIR. “We want to focus and maintain our energy on an effective vendor management solution in the vendor management space.” At the same time, building a server infrastructure to support a commercial roll-out of VMS would require a capital investment of at least U.S.$150,000—a cost that ISHIR wanted to avoid.<br />Solution<br />ISHIR decided that the most cost-efficient way to take Vendor Management Solution to market was a cloud computing model. The company carefully evaluated several cloud services providers, including Amazon Web Services, Salesforce.com, Google, and Rackspace, before choosing the Windows Azure platform from Microsoft. Windows Azure is a cloud services operating system that serves as 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 />ISHIR chose Windows Azure, in part, because it proved to be the simplest development platform and supported the code base for the existing VMS application that had been developed on the .NET Framework 4 with the Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Professional development system. “We found Windows Azure to be the best option for VMS because it supports .NET, whereas other cloud services providers only support Java,” explains Gagan Sharma, Presales Manager at ISHIR. “Our expertise is in Microsoft products and technologies, and with Windows Azure we can take advantage of those existing skills for quick development.” In November 2009, two developers migrated the existing VMS application to the Windows Azure platform in just 12 days.<br />“We were able to use our existing skills with Microsoft technologies to efficiently migrate VMS to the cloud.”Gagan Sharma, Presales Manager, ISHIR<br />VMS uses a multi-tenant architecture, where a single instance of the application runs on a server and serves multiple clients. Its configuration and data are partitioned so that all ISHIR customers get a customized instance of VMS and can keep their data separate—and secure—from each other.<br />Scalable Storage<br />For scalable storage, ISHIR took advantage of Windows Azure storage services: Blob, Table, and Queue storage. The company uses blobs to store and access binary data in VMS including client, agency, candidate, timesheet, and other assignment documents. ISHIR also uses blobs and tables to store process documents that can be uploaded to and downloaded from VMS, including candidate photographs and resume details, the client contract, agency details, and timesheets.<br />ISHIR implemented queues to provide a way for Web role instances to communicate asynchronously with Worker role instances, such as when a user submits a request to perform a compute-intensive task. The Web role instance receives the request and writes a message to a queue describing the work to be carried out by a Worker role.<br />The company also implemented Microsoft SQL Azure as its database server. It migrated a local Microsoft SQL Server 2005 database to SQL Azure, easily extending its relational database to the cloud, thanks to tight compatibility between the cloud and on-premises versions of the software. ISHIR uses SQL Azure to deliver analytical results from its image-processing engine. SQL Azure is also a crucial component for helping to protect customers’ data. “The automated management capabilities, built-in data protection, self-healing features, and disaster recovery capabilities in SQL Azure are critical in ensuring data protection in a multi-tenant, cloud-based solution,” explains Sharma.<br />Plans for Future Enhancements <br />Developers at ISHIR are constantly developing enhancements for VMS and release updates every two weeks. Developers take advantage of the Windows Azure development fabric, which simulates the Windows Azure environment on a local computer so that developers can develop and test a feature or enhancement locally before deploying it. First, ISHIR plans to offer customers the option of running a local, on-premises database that will store logon credentials and other critical information about candidates and connect to Windows Azure through the Windows Azure platform AppFabric Service Bus. Next, the company plans to develop a service that will connect the cloud database to a client’s on-premises Active Directory service—a request made by one of ISHIR’s customers that will eventually provide for single sign on capabilities. Finally, developers at ISHIR will build a tool that will allow users to scan documents into VMS, such as job applications and candidate resumes, and index those documents.<br />Benefits<br />By using the Windows Azure platform, ISHIR efficiently and cost-effectively migrated its VMS application to the cloud. As a result, ISHIR took the vendor management solution that it originally developed as an internal application to help it effectively serve its clients in the role of a master vendor, and quickly made it a commercially-viable solution that it can offer as a product to complement its existing services. What’s more, ISHIR was able to open new market opportunities without incurring any capital expenses involved with procuring new server hardware. <br />“We found Windows Azure to be the best option for VMS because it supports .NET, whereas other cloud providers only support Java.”Gagan Sharma, Presales Manager, ISHIR<br />Gained Fast Time-to-Market<br />Because developers can use their existing skills with the .NET Framework and Visual Studio to efficiently develop on the Windows Azure platform, ISHIR was able to bring VMS to market quickly, migrating the application in only 12 days. “When developing on Windows Azure, we found that the development experience for on-premises applications is consistent with that for cloud-based applications,” explains Sharma. “We were able to use our existing skills with Microsoft technologies to efficiently migrate VMS to the cloud, but at the same time, we were also able to use other competencies, such as PHP, with Windows Azure, as well.”<br />Opened New Market Opportunities<br />Not only was ISHIR able to bring VMS to staffing agencies, consultancies, and other vendors in the IT industry, it was also able to extend its offerings to additional vertical industries. ISHIR adapted VMS to the healthcare industry, and can now offer a robust vendor management solution to hospitals who often hire contingent nursing, laboratory, and administrative resources. “To say that Windows Azure played a key role in this is an understatement,” says Khanna. “For us to bring our product to market under any other circumstance would have required a completely different business model and significant capital investment.”<br />Avoided Capital Expenditures<br />With Windows Azure, ISHIR was able to expand into new customer markets while still avoiding capital expenditures. A venture that normally would have cost at least $150,000 in infrastructure expenses yielded no capital expenditures because the company was able to take advantage of Microsoft data centers. In addition, because ISHIR avoided capital expenditures, it is able to pass those savings to its customers. “Because we had no capital expenses in delivering VMS with Windows Azure, that is a $150,000 savings that translates into savings for our customers,” explains Khanna. “If we don’t incur the expense, our customers certainly don’t, either.”<br />Software and ServicesWindows Azure PlatformAppFabric Service BusMicrosoft SQL AzureWindows AzureWindows Azure storage servicesMicrosoft Server Product PortfolioMicrosoft SQL ServerMicrosoft Visual Studio Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 ProfessionalTechnologiesActive DirectoryMicrosoft .NET FrameworkThis case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.Document published May 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.com For more information about ISHIR products and services, call (888) 994-7447 or visit the Web site at: www.ishir.comAdditional Resources:Read: Windows Azure and ISVs – A guide for Decision MakersLearn: Windows Azure Channel 9 Training CourseDownload: Windows Azure Tools and SDKWindows 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 />