Microsoft Windows Azure - Quest Software Expands Market Reach Case Study


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Microsoft Windows Azure - Quest Software Expands Market Reach Case Study

  1. 1. Windows AzureCustomer Solution Case StudySoftware Development Firm Expands Market Reach with Cost-Efficient Cloud Services <br />OverviewCountry or Region: United StatesIndustry: Software developmentCustomer ProfileQuest Software develops IT management solutions for customers who use Microsoft products and technologies. The Microsoft Gold Certified Partner has 3,500 employees.Business SituationThe company historically has served enterprise customers with on-premises solutions, but wanted to expand its reach to small and midsize businesses with a more cost-efficient model. SolutionQuest Software implemented Windows Azure to deliver two software-as-a-service offerings to customers, and will continue to develop additional IT management services in the cloud. BenefitsImproved scalabilityEnhanced data securityScalable log managementQuick development timeExpanded market reach“Through Windows Azure, Quest OnDemand services require fewer staff and no hardware for our customers, plus, customers gain the ability to spread out IT investments over time with a pay-as-you-go subscription-based pricing model.”Dmitry Sotnikov, Director of Cloud Solutions, Quest SoftwareSoftware development company Quest Software develops IT management solutions and has helped more than 100,000 enterprise customers worldwide improve IT efficiency. Historically, the company has offered on-premises solutions that require hardware, software licenses, and maintenance resources—costs that most small and midsize businesses often cannot afford. Quest Software wanted to expand its services to the small and midsize business market by employing a software-as-a-service delivery model, but it did not want to rent server space or build out its own data center to host cloud services. After evaluating several options, the company implemented the Windows Azure platform to host its solutions. As a result, the company was able to quickly develop its cloud services, and it gained improved scalability compared to on-premises solutions, enhanced data security, and an expanded market reach. <br />Situation<br />Quest Software develops systems management products and IT services that help customers manage their critical applications, databases, infrastructure, and virtual environments. A Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Quest Software specializes in Microsoft products and technologies. <br />Traditionally, Quest has offered on-premises solutions, such as its Active Directory recovery and Windows log management products: Recovery Manager for Active Directory and InTrust, respectively. Its solutions have been geared toward enterprise customers that have the personnel and financial resources to procure and maintain the required infrastructure. For instance, the solutions for Active Directory management require hardware, such as file servers; software licenses, including server operating system and database software licenses; and personnel to maintain the systems, such as staff to manage updates and troubleshoot tasks. Though the solutions are robust and offer tangible benefits for any customer that uses Active Directory, the infrastructure required to run them can be cost-prohibitive for small and midsize businesses. <br />Though Quest has historically catered to large enterprise customers, the company wanted to address the needs of small and midsize businesses that also need systems management solutions. “We wanted to start providing the same IT management functionality to smaller businesses that don’t necessarily have sufficient IT staff and budget to deploy and maintain on-premises IT management software,” explains Dmitry Sotnikov, Director of Cloud Solutions at Quest Software. <br />In an effort to give small and midsize businesses a way to cost-effectively use its IT management software without the need to invest in expensive infrastructure, Quest decided that it would develop a line of software-as-a-service solutions delivered through the “cloud”—that is, the applications and customer data would be hosted in data centers and delivered over the Internet. To host its cloud solutions, the company considered renting server space or building its own data center; however, since cloud computing would be a new business model for the company, Quest was concerned that it could not accurately predict the demand for its new services. The company not only ran the risk of over-provisioning servers, resulting in wasted resources, but also ran the risk of under-provisioning servers, which could potentially mean poor service levels for customers. “No matter how much experience you have with on-premises solutions, when you’re launching a new service with a new model, it’s nearly impossible to predict with any accuracy how much demand there will be,” says Sotnikov. <br />Even if Quest could accurately predict demand, it realized that renting server space or hosting solutions in its own data center was fundamentally not the right solution for the software development company. “We’re a software development company,” explains Sotnikov. “We want to continue to focus on our core expertise and do not want to turn into a hosting company.”<br />Solution<br />Instead of renting server space or building out a data center infrastructure to support its cloud offerings, Quest Software evaluated several commercially available cloud services offerings, including Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2), Google,, and Windows Azure from Microsoft. In May 2009, Quest decided to implement Windows Azure because, first, the platform was better aligned with its developers’ skills—most developers at the company are familiar with the Microsoft .NET Framework and the Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 development system; and, second, the company felt that because most of its solutions are designed to manage Microsoft products and technologies, there was better marketing alignment with Windows Azure. <br />“Developers were able to use their existing expertise and didn’t have to learn an entirely new tool set for us to expand into the cloud market.”Dmitry Sotnikov, Director of Cloud Solutions, Quest Software<br />Using a significant portion of the code from its on-premises solutions, Quest developed a set of cloud-based IT management solutions with Windows Azure—the development, service hosting, and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform, which is hosted in Microsoft data centers. After announcing a beta trial at the Professional Developer Conference in November 2009, Quest became one of the first companies in the world to release commercially-available solutions on Windows Azure. The company released the commercial versions of two services in June 2010: <br />Quest OnDemand Recovery for Active Directory provides backup and object-level recovery of Active Directory data. Customers can schedule backups without manual intervention and recover their Active Directory data without affecting user productivity. <br />Quest OnDemand Log Management captures Windows event logs and indexes them for quick, online search and retrieval by customers. <br />When customers sign up for OnDemand services, they download a small agent that establishes highly secure, encrypted communication between their servers and the Quest OnDemand service. Customers access the administrative user interface for the service through a website. The site uses a token service built on Windows Identity Foundation, with Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML)–based access controls to help ensure secure access. <br />The services use Windows Azure compute resources and storage services in a multitenant environment to keep customers’ data separated. Depending on how many customers Quest has using its services, and how much compute and data resources those customers need, the company can quickly scale up by easily adding additional Windows Azure instances. <br />The Quest OnDemand services use Windows Azure web roles for the front-end user interface. Web roles submit tasks to the Windows Azure Queue service, and the tasks are picked up by Windows Azure worker roles for processing. Quest OnDemand Recovery for Active Directory uses a combination of Windows Azure table storage and Blob storage to store objects from the customers’ Active Directory environment; Quest OnDemand Log Management uses Windows Azure Blob storage to store indexed event data from systems in the Windows environment. <br />In addition to the two, paid Quest OnDemand services available to customers today, the company also developed a free service for administrators of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 and 2010: Quest OnDemand Reports for SharePoint. The service provides overview reports for an unlimited number of SharePoint sites. The information in these reports helps customers to assess the scope of their SharePoint sites, understand how sites are being used, and determine site storage metrics. Quest is committed to offering software-as-a-service solutions for IT systems management and plans to bring more of its on-premises solutions to the cloud. <br />Benefits<br />By using Windows Azure, Quest Software efficiently developed and brought to market its software-as-a-service offerings. The Quest OnDemand services offer improved scalability and log management, plus quick deployment compared to on-premises solutions. Customers also have peace of mind that their data is stored in certified Microsoft data centers. In addition, Quest expanded its market reach by offering a cost-efficient solution that smaller businesses can afford. <br />“By using Windows Azure … we can quickly scale up to meet even the most demanding of data volumes for our customers and process accurate results in seconds instead of hours.”Dmitry Sotnikov, Director of Cloud Solutions, Quest Software<br />Improved Scalability<br />By using Windows Azure to host its OnDemand services, Quest can quickly scale up capacity as demand dictates, without the expense and guesswork it would have required to build and host its own infrastructure. The company also can avoid the financial risk associated with over-provisioning servers, and the negative impact to its service levels from under-provisioning servers. “Windows Azure lets us scale up when we need extra compute and storage resources, as well as scale down when we need fewer resources,” says Sotnikov. “We don’t have to worry about over-provisioning or underutilizing resources this way.” <br />Thanks to the quick scalability offered by Windows Azure, Quest OnDemand customers may be able to improve their service levels, compared to using on-premises solutions in which the server infrastructure has finite performance. In an on-premises scenario, even with a powerful server, if a customer has a sudden increase in data volume, it will likely experience latency with processing data. “In some cases, depending on data volume, it might take hours to process data,” explains Sotnikov. “So, customers have to balance the need for adding additional servers to improve performance with cost-efficiency and proper server utilization. By using Windows Azure, however, we can quickly scale up to meet even the most demanding of data volumes for our customers and process accurate results in seconds instead of hours.”<br />Enhanced Security for Backup and Recovery<br />Customers of Quest not only see fast performance, due to the rapid scalability of Windows Azure but also benefit from reliable data protection. “It’s an IT best practice to store back-up data offsite so that data is protected from local failures,” explains Sotnikov. “With Windows Azure, customers are able to back up their data to an off-site location, and one that is hosted by Microsoft no less—there’s a certain trust and reliability that comes with that, and customers are confident that their data is secure.” Microsoft datacenters are ISO 27001:2005 accredited, with SAS 70 Type I and Type II attestations, giving Quest and its customers further confidence in the security of the solution and in the integrity of their data. Backup data is stored encrypted and secured in separate storage containers provisioned for each customer. Yet, whenever an administrator needs to roll back any accidental change in Active Directory, all it takes is a browser and a few mouse clicks.<br />Security-Enhanced, Scalable Log Management<br />Event log data is vital for both compliance and operational efficiency. However, the sheer amount of data produced in audit trails from production systems makes it challenging to store and process the data. With Quest OnDemand Log Management powered by Windows Azure, customers get infinite storage for a flat per-server, per-month subscription fee. Plus, thanks to a scalable compute model, data processing is fast, whether be it a search for a specific error message or a particular user activity across all collected data.<br />Quick Development Time<br />The development team at Quest was able to quickly develop the Quest OnDemand services thanks to the integration of Windows Azure with the .NET Framework and Visual Studio 2010. “Developers were able to use their existing expertise and didn’t have to learn an entirely new tool set for us to expand into the cloud market,” says Sotnikov. “Plus, we were able to reuse a significant portion of our application code from our existing, on-premises products, which also helped speed the development time.”<br />Expanded Market Reach<br />By using Windows Azure, Quest removed some of the barriers for small and midsize businesses by offering cloud solutions that do not require on-premises hardware and software—or the maintenance costs that accompany those solutions. “Through Windows Azure, Quest OnDemand services require fewer staff and no hardware for our customers, plus customers gain the ability to spread out IT investments over time with a pay-as-you-go subscription-based pricing model,” says Sotnikov. Quest has also seen that many individual departments within larger enterprises are interested in the Quest OnDemand services. <br />“Windows Azure lets us scale up when we need extra compute and storage resources, as well as scale down when we need fewer resources.” Dmitri Sotnikov, Director of Cloud Solutions, Quest Software<br />Expanding its reach even further, systems integrators and managed service providers are also interested in using Quest OnDemand. “Systems integrators are interested in Quest OnDemand not only for the same cost-efficient and scalability reasons, but also because they can log into the service from any web browser and check in on all the environments that they are maintaining—without the time and expense of visiting customers on-site,” explains Sotnikov. As more and more market segments find discrete benefits from using Quest OnDemand services, the company is committed to developing additional IT management solutions for the cloud with Windows Azure. <br />Software and ServicesWindows Azure PlatformWindows AzureWindows Azure Storage ServicesMicrosoft Visual StudioMicrosoft Visual Studio 2010TechnologiesMicrosoft .NET FrameworkThis case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.Document published July 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 who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go For more information about Quest Software products and services, call (800) 306-9329 or visit the website at: Resources:Training: Channel9 Windows Azure Training Course Download: Windows Azure Training KitDownload: Windows Azure SDK  White paper: Security Best Practices for Developing on the Windows Azure Platform 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 " Dallas." 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 />