Microsoft Windows Azure - Eduify Software Services Case Study


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Microsoft Windows Azure - Eduify Software Services Case Study

  1. 1. Internet Firm Speeds Time-to-Market by 40 Percent with Startup Support, “Cloud” Computing Overview “The faster time-to-market that we got Country or Region: United States Industry: Education with BizSpark and Azure are crucial to our success. It gives us an important Customer Profile Eduify, based in San Francisco, competitive advantage, and it helps California, provides Web-based prove our business strategy with solutions that help students conduct research faster, write investors.” better papers, and get help on demand. Eduify was founded to provide students with educational technology that can assist them in Business Situation Eduify wanted to speed time-to- researching topics faster and writing better. To market for a software-plus- create its solution, Eduify received assistance as services solution that would give students more effective well, from Microsoft® technologies and services assistance with writing such as the Azure™ Services Platform, the assignments than they could get over the Web alone. Microsoft BizSpark™ ecosystem, and Windows Mobile® 6. Eduify took advantage of these Solution The company achieved fast technological and business resources to create a time-to-market by adopting the software-plus-services solution that delivers Azure™ Services Platform and Windows Mobile® 6, and online writing help to students anywhere, anytime, participating in the Microsoft® with functionality and a user experience not BizSpark™ program for startup companies. possible from the Web alone. At the same time, Eduify gained a 40 percent faster time-to-market, Benefits  Cuts time-to-market by 40 U.S.$500,000 in development and other savings, percent and easier access to the largest market of mobile  Enables more effective software development device users.  Provides access to largest market for mobile devices
  2. 2. Internet Firm Speeds Time-to-Market by 40 Percent with Startup Support, “Cloud” Computing
  3. 3. “These were Situation students, a solution has to More than 32 million students in provide the technologies that bright kids, but the United States struggle with they might otherwise lack at any they lacked the writing assignments because given moment: appropriate word they lack the technology and processing software, file storage, productivity tools immediate help they need to and research tools. they needed to be succeed, according to research cited. Furthermore, nearly four Another key requirement is the successful.” out of five high school students ability to address problems that Dan Merritts, Vice President of are not proficient writers, students might have at any Marketing, Eduify according to the National junction during the typical Assessment of Educational academic writing process: Progress. formulating an outline, writing a draft, discovering and capturing “Eduify’s founder saw these research, and managing peer problems up close a few years edits or multiple drafts. Eduify ago, when he worked to place wanted its solution to include promising high school and college writing tutorials and examples, interns with business mentors in safeguards against plagiarism, Silicon Valley,” says Dan Merritts, and expert writing coaching on Vice President of Marketing at demand. Because students often Eduify. At the end of each work in groups or seek advice summer, the students were from friends on social networks assigned a paper to write about such as Facebook, Eduify also the experience. “Students wanted its solution to include continually encountered problems connections into students’ social when completing the assign- environments. ment,” Merritts explains. “These were bright kids, but they lacked The Internet is a natural platform the productivity tools they needed for this anywhere-anytime to be successful, and they lacked service. Yet, the Internet alone access to help when and where cannot support all the features they needed it most—which could and services that Eduify be at home, at 2:00 A.M., the envisioned. For example, the night before the assignment was company wanted to help students due.” capture research from physical sources, such as books in school Eduify was founded to address libraries, which suggested a role these problems. The company’s for mobile devices. And it wanted primary business goal was to its solution to be accessible from create a solution that students the productivity tools that could access anytime and students already used, such as anywhere to help them write word processing software. better. “The days of students doing all of their research and As a startup company, Eduify schoolwork in the library are long needed technology that was as gone,” says Merritts. For cost-effective as possible. At the
  4. 4. same time, it needed that technology to be easy to use and scalable to support what the company hoped would be massive growth over the next few years. Solution To address its needs for a solution that would function from the Internet and also provide software resources for services that could not be based on the Web, Eduify adopted a software- plus-services approach. This approach makes it possible to take advantage of capabilities both of the Web and of the software on a student’s local PC or device, wherever that might be. At the heart of the Eduify solution are:  Collaborative workspaces with file storage, a student-focused document editor, sharing through Facebook, instant messaging, and much more.  Research tools to discover relevant quotes and resources as a student writes, to share references with peers, and to automatically capture new content with its bibliographic information.  Help services to identify experts in a student’s network, to become a help to others, and to obtain fee-based expert writing help. “Cloud Services” Platform
  5. 5. Eduify did not want to reinvent the Among the Azure services that wheel nor, in this case, the Web Eduify used are ones that: platform and services it would  Authenticate users and provide need for its solution. Several access to its solution. commercially available Internet  Integrate the solution with the “cloud services” platforms exist cloud environment and enable that can both host a Web-based the solution to integrate with solution and provide many of the third-party systems such as building blocks comprised by that Facebook. solution. Eduify chose the Azure™  Help to rapidly extend the Services Platform, an Internet- solution across mobile devices scale cloud services platform and the Web. hosted in Microsoft® data  Enable users to connect with centers, because it was the more than 320 million Windows fastest to deploy and scale, as Live™ Messenger users Figure 1: The Eduify well as to integrate value-added worldwide to collaborate and architecture combines Azure services, such as file solicit help on writing projects. and cloud services with local synchronization or instant  Enable users to store their work software and services to give messaging. in the “cloud,” to access it users the best of each. later from any Internet- connected PC or device.
  6. 6. To gain the benefits of Microsoft No-Cost License Support for technol-ogies with the cost Startups advantages of open source Eduify faced the need to buy software, Eduify joined the Micro- licenses for the Windows Server® soft BizSpark™ program, which software and various Microsoft was designed especially for application platform components startup companies. The BizSpark it would need for its solution— program provided Eduify with expenses that could have limited access to software, support, and its development speed and hurt a rich, vibrant ecosystem of time-to-market, and that it would peers, partners, and support not have incurred with another resources around the globe. software choice, such as Linux- based open source software. The development tools, platform Figure 2: The software-plus- technologies, and production services approach enables licenses available through Eduify to take maximum BizSpark include the full Microsoft advantage of the software Visual Studio® Team System 2008 capabilities of mobile devices. Team Suite with MSDN® Premium subscription, production use rights to host a Web-based solution using many of the latest components of the Microsoft application platform, and eligibility for Azure and other Microsoft offerings. Mobile and Office Business Application Support Of course, students interact not only with the online environment, but also with the physical environment. To enable students to capture and use physical research materials such as library books, Eduify used the Microsoft Compact Framework to put its solution on Windows Mobile® phones. With an Eduify mobile application on their Windows Mobile phone, students can capture a source and add it to their research bibliography by taking a picture of the book’s ISBN barcode. Then, students can take a picture of the
  7. 7. page with the quote they want to have taken otherwise, saving 83 cite in their papers. Students can percent of development time. add the quote to their papers with a single click and the bibliography “The faster time-to-market that is automatically created for them. we got with BizSpark and Azure are crucial to our success,” says The Eduify solution thrives on the Merritts. “It gives us an Web, but students may not be on important competitive advantage, the Web when they want to use and it helps prove our business it; for instance, they may be strategy with investors. Saving working in their word processor. half a million dollars would be To make it possible for students huge for any company—for a to access the rich resources of startup, it can make the the Eduify solution from within difference between success and Microsoft Office 2007 programs— failure.” in this case, from within Microsoft Office Word 2007—Eduify plans to Eduify took advantage all of the create an Office Business key advantages of BizSpark; most Application that gives students notably, software licensing access to its services right from benefits, priority access to the Microsoft Office Fluent™ Microsoft support, and access to Ribbon. the global BizSpark community. Benefits For example, it has teamed with By using such resources as the another business in the education BizSpark program, the Azure market—one that it met through Services Platform, and Windows BizSpark—that offers services to Mobile to build its solution, Eduify schools for analyzing student attained faster and more cost- performance. The two companies effective time-to-market; the plan to provide virtual, or online, scalability, availability, and schools with the Eduify writing- security its solution required; and help platform to improve writing access to the largest market for proficiency. mobile devices. Eduify also gained important Cuts Time-to-Market by 40 benefits when it chose to develop Percent, Saves $500,000 in the Microsoft .NET Merritts estimates that the environment, as opposed to combination of the Microsoft competing environments, such as BizSpark program and the Azure Java.“The ecosystem for Services Platform shaved five Microsoft .NET developers is months and U.S.$500,000 off his vastly larger than the ecosystem company’s development time for Java,” says Merritts. “That and marketing budget. The Eduify meant we were able to find mobile application, for example, quality developers more easily, at was developed in just one month more cost-effective rates. The —compared to the six months choice of Microsoft enabled us to that Merritts estimates it would go with an offshore development
  8. 8. model that saved us money at a Merritts says he sees those time when cash was at a benefits extending into the future. premium.” “The Azure platform makes it possible for us to grow our Enables More Effective solution as fast as the market Development requires,” he says. “Technology Choosing Azure over competing isn’t going to hold us back; it’s cloud services environments, going to be a key driver of our such as Amazon, was also an business growth.” important choice, for several reasons. For one, it enabled Provides Access to Largest developers to work more Market for Mobile Devices effectively. “We wanted a best- Using Windows Mobile as the of-breed platform,” says platform for the Eduify mobile Merritts. “Azure gave our solution is beneficial to both developers a way to develop Eduify and its customers. The Eduify locally, on their own company takes full advantage of computers, rather than having to Windows Mobile phone features— go back to the cloud for each including keyboard and superior step of development. We knew cameras—to deliver a solution that would speed development.” that goes beyond the capabilities of the Web alone. Beyond faster time-to-market, the choice of Azure also delivered Windows Mobile gives Eduify key technical benefits for Eduify, access to the platform’s 30 including cost-effective scalability million customers, up to two- and enhanced availability and thirds larger than the markets for security. “Azure gives us all the competing mobile platforms. building blocks we need for a “Windows Mobile helps us to superior cloud computing solu- capture a larger share of the tion,” says Merritts. “It allows us market faster,” says Merritts. “It to focus on the added value we also gives our customers more bring to education, rather than choice in the phones they use. having to create the ‘plumbing’ Microsoft is investing in the edu- for ourselves. We know that this cation market with Windows solution is going to be fast and Mobile, which further extends our available 24/7, which is essential reach and distribution. From a to our offering. Additionally, and technology standpoint, going with more importantly for upholding Windows Mobile was a way to privacy standards, we know that exploit our existing expertise with it will have the security of .NET to easily extend our services Microsoft-based authentication to the mobile world.” and access control, another key requirement in getting students to be comfortable with Eduify.”
  9. 9. For More Information Software-plus-Services For more information about Software-plus-services is an Microsoft products and industry shift driven by the fast- services, call the Microsoft growing recognition that Sales Information Center at combining Internet services with (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call client and server software can the Microsoft Canada deliver exciting new Information Centre at (877) opportunities. Microsoft is 568-2495. Customers who are dedicated to helping individuals deaf or hard-of-hearing can and businesses take advantage reach Microsoft text telephone of these opportunities. By (TTY/TDD) services at (800) bringing together the best of both 892-5234 in the United States software and services, we or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. maximize capabilities, choice, Outside the 50 United States and flexibility for our customers. and Canada, please contact The broad software-plus-services your local Microsoft subsidiary. approach unites multiple industry To access information using the phenomena including software as World Wide Web, go to: a service, service-oriented development, and the Web 2.0 user experience under a common For more information about umbrella. Eduify products and services, visit the Web site at: For more information about software-plus-services, go to: services Software and Services  Services  Azure Services Platform − Microsoft BizSpark  Microsoft Server Product  Solutions Portfolio − Software-plus-services − Windows Server 2003  Technologies − Microsoft SQL Server 2005 − Microsoft .NET Framework  Windows Mobile 6 3.5 SP1 − Microsoft .NET Compact Framework 3.5 This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published July 2009