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Microsoft Windows Azure - Kelly Blue Book Case Study

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Microsoft Windows Azure - Kelly Blue Book Case Study

  1. 1. Windows Azure Customer Solution Case Study Vehicle Values Provider Saves $100,000 with Easy-to-Manage Software-plus-Services Overview “With the flexibility of Windows Azure, we Country or Region: United States Industry: Manufacturing— can focus on building and delivering new Automotive features to our customers—helping us Customer Profile increase our competitive advantage.” Established in 1926 and based Andy Lapin, Director of Enterprise Architecture, Kelley Blue Book in Irvine, California, Kelley Blue Book is a premier vehicle Kelley Blue Book is a premier provider of vehicle valuation service. It employs 390 people. The company’s pricing information to consumers, automotive Web site has 14 million visitors dealers, governments, and the finance and each month. insurance industries. The company developed its Business Situation information-rich, high-traffic Web site using the Kelley Blue Book sought a solution that would enable it to Microsoft® .NET Framework 3.5 and supports it scale up quickly to meet the with two hosted data centers. In an effort to capacity demands of its high- traffic Web site and reduce its reduce hosting costs and ease management of its dependency on costly infrastructure, Kelley Blue Book decided to host hardware. and manage its Web site using a software-plus- Solution services model. After evaluating software-plus- After evaluating other platforms, Kelley Blue Book chose to use a services solutions, the company implemented the software-plus-services model Windows Azure™ platform—which proved to be a and moved its Web site to the Windows Azure™ platform. straightforward process. As a result, Kelley Blue Book is able to reduce capital expenditures for Benefits • Reduced capital costs with new hardware, increase its competitive flexible scalability advantage by focusing on delivering new • Shifted focus to delivering • Saved U.S.$100,000 features, save U.S.$100,000 annually in hosting annually costs, and use IT resources more strategically. • Improved IT efficiency
  2. 2. Situation Framework 3.5 with a server First published in 1926, Kelley infrastructure supported by the Blue Book has grown to be a Windows Server® 2003 Standard trusted source of automobile operating system and Microsoft information, such as new- and SQL Server® 2008 Standard used-car values. The company’s Edition data management primary mission is to provide an software. The site has 14 million automotive information and value visitors each month; one out of exchange that gives consumers, three car shoppers in the United automotive dealers, government, States uses Kelley Blue Book to and companies in the finance and conduct online research before insurance industries the making a vehicle purchase. information they need to facilitate vehicle transactions. Originally To support the compute power only a published book, Kelley Blue and data storage that the “Using Windows Book is also now a Web site company needs to run its high- (www.kbb.com), which launched traffic Web site, Kelley Blue Book Azure .… We will more than a decade ago. The has two physical data centers— see $100,000 in company is based in Irvine, one primary data center and one California, and has 390 failover data center. The savings each year employees. company owns its own servers, but runs them in a hosting facility —a number that will The Web site has grown leaps where it rents server space. As increase because and bounds since its conception the company added new in 1995, allowing the company to products and features to its Web we would normally continually expand its business site, and as traffic to the site and offer new products and increased over time, Kelley Blue continue to add features. In 2002, for example, in Book responded by adding more servers to that order to give consumers actual servers to its infrastructure to transaction prices for new cars, handle peak traffic. “When we hit data center as we the company gathered data and a point where we were analyzed transactions from exceeding traffic expectations, or grow.” thousands of dealers across the when we deployed new code or United States and introduced the new functionality that required Kelley Blue Book Value for New more computing resources, we Cars. In 2009, Kelley Blue Book would buy enough servers to launched “The Trusted handle the maximum load and Marketplace,” giving consumers those servers would live on the ability to complete their perpetually,” explains Andy vehicle research, conduct new- Lapin, Director of Enterprise and used-vehicle inventory Architecture for Kelley Blue Book. searches and find their next car, all on one convenient and easy- However, with daily, weekly, and to-use Web site. season fluctuations in site traffic, the load was not evenly Today, the Kelley Blue Book Web distributed over time. As a result, site is built on the Microsoft® .NET though the infrastructure had the
  3. 3. capacity to support traffic during to scale up more quickly to high-volume periods, the manage increasing site traffic, company was also paying for while at the same time making its hosting services for under-utilized server use during nonpeak times servers during nonpeak times. as cost-effective as possible. “We kept buying and buying hardware to ensure that we could Solution handle peak load,” says Lapin. To improve the efficiency of its platform, Kelley Blue Book Managing the servers also was investigated the possibility of time-consuming. For instance, to moving to a software-plus- add servers to its failover data services model. The company center location, which is out-of- looked at two solutions: the state, the company had to order Windows Azure™ platform and the servers from a vendor, fly Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud personnel to the data center, and (EC2). In April 2009, Kelley Blue build and rack the servers—a Book decided to migrate to the process that took up to six Windows Azure platform, a weeks. When Kelley Blue Book solution that provides “cloud” needed to scale up quickly, such services, the hosting and as when the “Cash for Clunkers” management of Web applications initiative launched in 2009, a six- and services on the Internet week lead time to deploy new through Microsoft data centers. servers proved an inefficient The solution is designed for high model. Also, despite the availability and quick scaling to company’s best efforts to match usage needs. mitigate project risks, not every deployment was flawless. The company chose the Windows Sometimes IT personnel found Azure platform based, in part, on that additional computing the services the platform offers: resources were needed after Windows Azure, a cloud services new code was deployed. “If we operating system; Microsoft SQL deploy new functionality and we Azure, for extending storage to find the whole data center is the cloud. In addition, it chose down, we get into firefighting Windows Azure for its pay-per- mode—we do everything we can use cost model, which allows the to get it back up quickly, or figure company to pay only for the out how to roll back code. compute processing and storage Sometimes you can do that—and that it uses. “We had to find a sometimes you can’t,” says way of justifying whether the Lapin. ‘cloud’ made sense to us. The Windows Azure cost model is Though Kelley Blue Book had the simple to figure out and easy to server capacity it needed to calculate the costs involved,” handle its peak Web site traffic, it explains Lapin. “The Amazon sought a more efficient solution. model was more complicated and The company wanted to be able we couldn’t realistically
  4. 4. determine what our savings persistence,” says Lapin. The would be.” company analyzed and then implemented Windows Azure An Easy-to-Develop Solution Blob Storage and Windows Azure Developers at Kelley Blue Book Tables. were able to use their existing skill sets to deploy code to the As a way to reduce load on its Windows Azure platform, which remaining physical SQL Server made the implementation quick databases, Kelley Blue Book is and straightforward. For the most testing moving data that is part, developers reused code traditionally stored relationally, from the original Web site, such as editorial content, and developed with the Microsoft moving it to Blob Storage and Visual Studio® 2008 Professional accessing it on the Internet Edition development system, and through data centers hosted by simply migrated it to the Windows Microsoft. It moved [several Azure platform. “We’re not hundred] megabytes of data to forcing developers to write Blob Storage, and now can different code—it’s still the access that data through those familiar .NET-based code,” data centers instead of accessing explains Lapin. “Developers it on its physical SQL Server don’t have to make dramatic databases. In the future, Kelley changes when deploying to Blue Book plans to move its Windows Azure versus deploying physical SQL Server databases to to a local data center. That is one SQL Azure. of the things that makes Windows Azure the only logical choice.” Benefits Using the Windows Azure The company is moving all 27 Platform, Kelley Blue Book Web servers and nine SQL Server efficiently implemented a cost- databases to the cloud with effective, flexible model for its “It is nice to have Windows Azure, giving Kelley Web site. By moving to a cloud Blue Book the flexibility to solution for kbb.com, the a flexible solution redeploy those servers for other company was able to reduce company needs without capital expenditures, as well as like Windows Azure additional infrastructure data center and hosting costs. IT where we don’t investments. personnel are free now to focus on more strategic tasks, thanks have to pay any Data Persistence Using Software-plus- to enterprise-class service from Services Microsoft. Today the company is upfront costs to To take full advantage of the focused on delivering new get something software-plus-services model, features and services to Kelley Blue Book looked at customers instead of managing deployed quickly.” Windows Azure storage solutions. risks at its data center. Andy Lapin, Director of “We wanted to better utilize the Enterprise Architecture, Kelley cloud and look at other storage Decreased Capital Expenditures with Blue Book alternatives to ensure data Flexible Scalability
  5. 5. “With Windows With Windows Azure, Kelley Blue company maintain its competitive Book can avoid making costly advantage. Azure, we never investments in IT infrastructure at its failover data center and has “With the flexibility of Windows have to focus on the flexibility it needs to scale up Azure, we can focus on building updating a server quickly. Instead of buying and delivering new features to additional servers each time the our customers—helping us or changing its company needs more capacity increase our competitive for its Web site or each time it advantage,” concludes Lapin. configuration. It is deploys a new product, it can all managed for us quickly scale up without making Reduced Data Center and Hosting Costs costly hardware investments by With the Windows Azure Platform, and all we have to using the processing power and Kelley Blue Book can manage its storage capacity offered by Web application using the worry about is Windows Azure and data centers Internet and data centers hosted deploying code to hosted by Microsoft. “It is nice to by Microsoft. Though it is keeping have a flexible solution like its physical primary data center one place.” Windows Azure where we don’t for now, it is moving its compute have to pay any upfront costs to processing and storage at its get something deployed quickly,” failover data center to the says Lapin. “We have the “cloud.” As a result, it is flexibility that lets us figure out decommissioning a total of 36 things as we go at a low cost.” physical servers for kbb.com—27 Web servers and nine SQL Server Improved Ability to Deliver New Services databases—and redeploying As Kelley Blue Book grows, it those servers to support other continues to add new services Kelley Blue Book products. and features to its Web site. The company has added new Kelley Blue Book analyzed the features at a fast rate since it costs required to run on-premise developed the application on servers compared to using the .NET Framework in 2006. In Windows Azure and expects to fact, the company often deploys save U.S.$100,000 in data center new code every week. Instead of and hosting costs alone with the worrying about the efficiency of pay-by-use model of the platform. the Web site each time it adds “Using Windows Azure is actually new features, or the risk involved less expensive than just the with deploying new physical power costs of our failover data servers each time it adds a new center,” says Lapin. “We will product or increases capacity for see $100,000 in savings each growing traffic, Kelley Blue Book year—a number that will increase is now able to focus on innovation because we would normally and delivering new products. The continue to add servers to that company is confident in the data center as we grow—and that continued responsiveness of the does not include the personnel it Web site with Windows Azure—a requires to maintain the data key differentiator that helps the center.”
  6. 6. More Strategic Use of IT Resources Kelley Blue Book streamlined management of the IT infrastructure that supports its Web site. Instead of deploying new code and applications and applying service packs and updates to each server individually, the company can rely on enterprise-class service provided by Microsoft. “With Windows Azure, we never have to focus on updating a server or changing its configuration,” says Lapin. “It is all managed for us and all we have to worry about is deploying code to one place.” By moving from on-premise servers to a cloud solution for kbb.com, Kelley Blue Book can assign IT personnel to focus on more strategic tasks. For instance, instead of managing those servers at the data center, IT personnel can focus more on internal IT tasks. “We have plenty of work that needs to be done. Now those employees can work on more strategic efforts without constantly being pestered with issues at the data center,” explains Lapin. In addition, because IT employees can work more efficiently, Kelley Blue Book is able to hire new IT staff at a decelerated rate it has in the past.
  7. 7. For More Information Windows Azure Platform cloud-based relational and For more information about The Windows Azure platform self-managed database service built on Microsoft SQL Microsoft products and provides an excellent foundation Server 2008 technologies. services, call the Microsoft for expanding online product and Sales Information Center at service offerings. The main To learn more about the Windows (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call components include: Azure platform, visit: the Microsoft Canada • Windows Azure. Windows Azure www.windowsazure.com Information Centre at (877) is the development, service 568-2495. Customers in the hosting, and service United States and Canada who management environment for are deaf or hard-of-hearing can the Windows Azure platform. reach Microsoft text telephone Windows Azure provides (TTY/TDD) services at (800) developers with on-demand 892-5234. Outside the 50 compute and storage to host, United States and Canada, scale, and manage Web please contact your local applications on the Internet Microsoft subsidiary. To access through Microsoft data information using the World centers. In addition, Windows Wide Web, go to: Azure serves developers’ www.microsoft.com connectivity needs through the following services. For more information about 〉 The Service Bus connects Neudesic products and services and applications services, call (949) 754-4500 or across network visit the Web site at: boundaries to help www.neudesic.com developers build distributed applications. For more information about 〉 The Access Control Service Kelley Blue Book products and provides federated, services, call (800) BLUE-BOOK claims-based access or visit the Web site at: control for REST Web www.kbb.com services. • Microsoft SQL Azure. Microsoft Additional Resources: SQL Azure offers the first Download: Get Tools and SDK Software and Services • Microsoft Visual Studio • Windows Azure Platform • Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 • Windows Azure Professional Edition • Microsoft SQL Azure • Solutions • Technologies • Software-plus-services • Microsoft ASP.NET • Microsoft .NET Framework Partner 3.5 • Neudesic • Microsoft Server Product Portfolio • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 This case study is for informational Standard Edition purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO • Windows Server 2003 WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published November 2009

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