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Microsoft Windows Azure - SharpCloud Manufacturing Triples Productivity Case Study


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Microsoft Windows Azure - SharpCloud Manufacturing Triples Productivity Case Study

  1. 1. Windows Azure Customer Solution Case Study Software Startup Triples Productivity, Saves $500,000 with Cloud Computing Solution
  2. 2. Overview “We wouldn’t exist if we had to build out Country or Region: United Kingdom Industry: Manufacturing—High this level of server capability ourselves. tech and electronics Windows Azure makes it possible for us to manufacturing scale the service as needed, using—and Customer Profile Based in Guildford, England, paying—only for what we need.” sharpcloud provides a sharpcloud was founded on a revolutionary idea: software-as-a-service solution that enables executives to plan to enhance strategy development efforts by using strategy road maps with the the interactive and collaborative tools familiar to ease and interactivity of social- networking sites. people who use social networking sites. But turning that idea into a real service for corporate Business Situation For its service to be successful, users required a global series of data centers—far sharpcloud needed to offer beyond sharpcloud’s reach. By taking advantage scalability to support major corporate users anywhere in of Microsoft partner programs and familiar the world—requiring a network Microsoft technology, sharpcloud developed and of data centers far beyond its means. now hosts its solution on the Windows Azure platform. The company estimates that it is 200 to Solution sharpcloud developed and 300 percent more productive than it would have hosts its service on the been on a competitive platform, saving up to U.S. Windows Azure platform, which helps manage the worldwide $500,000 annually. Running on Windows Azure, infrastructure so that sharpcloud has gained the confidence of major sharpcloud can focus exclusively on enhancing its corporations such as Fujitsu, which finds that the application service. sharpcloud service reduces its strategy planning Benefits time by 75 percent. • Boosts productivity 300 percent, saves U.S. $500,000 • Scales to support millions of users • Reduces time-to-market, cost of development • Enhances credibility with major corporations
  3. 3. “When you talk to Situation using dynamic social-networking A major upside to the Internet is tools, such as Facebook.” the business that it brings a global market of potential customers within the Khan and his colleagues knew community about reach of every startup company, that the integration of social the road maps that regardless of its location. networking tools and corporate However, having access to this road-map development had to be impact business global market also forces not just highly visual, but also startups to compete against simple to deploy and use. Those strategy, you find more established, better financed requirements suggested a Web- that people have a companies throughout the world. based application using the How are startups to meet this Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 very difficult time challenge? and the Microsoft Silverlight 3 cross-platform browser plug-in, communicating A British company formed in which could deliver streaming their strategic 2009, sharpcloud was founded video and animation, plus other on a seemingly simple but visual features, without requiring plans.” revolutionary idea: to apply highly software other than a Web visual and commonly used social- browser on an executive’s PC. networking tools to the crucial corporate project of developing To support the global companies long-term road maps and that sharpcloud envisioned as strategy. To simplify deployment prime customers for its visual and speed adoption, sharpcloud road-mapping tool, the would offer its solution as a company’s service would also service delivered to its customers have to be highly scalable, over the Internet where and when capable of supporting large needed through cloud computing. numbers of users who could be dispersed anywhere around the “When you talk to the business world. But without a revenue community about the road maps stream, the company’s finances that impact business strategy, were too tight to build this level of you find that people have a very scalability. It needed to devote all difficult time communicating their the financial resources it could to strategic plans,” says Sarim developing the most compelling Khan, Chief Executive Officer and service; buying and managing a Co-Founder of sharpcloud. server farm or, worse yet, data “They’re using presentations or centers around the globe, was spreadsheets that are static not an option. documents, that don’t let people collaborate. Yet people sharpcloud found its solution in communicate and collaborate cloud computing, the same constantly in their personal lives, technology it was planning to provide to its customers. Initially,
  4. 4. “The key for us sharpcloud executives chose the platform led the company to Amazon Web Services platform reconsider its choice, so did the has been the because it seemed large, reliable, availability of an option that had and capable of supporting the not existed when sharpcloud software and development and hosting of the selected Amazon. Since then, a support available sharpcloud solution. beta version of the Windows Azure platform had become without licensing Yet, as development continued, available. The Windows Azure concerns emerged. sharpcloud platform is an Internet-scale cost.” was charged for developing its cloud services platform that is Sarim Khan, Chief Executive solution using live resources in hosted in Microsoft data centers. Officer and Co-Founder, the cloud; the alternative— It includes an operating system sharpcloud developing the solution on local and a set of developer services resources and then moving it to that can be used separately or the cloud—was also problematic together in a pay-as-you-go because the local and cloud tools model. In Windows Azure, and environments were not sharpcloud executives saw an consistent. Code could look and answer to the growing concerns function one way on the it had about Amazon, so the developer’s workstation but company switched its behave somewhat differently in development and hosting solution the cloud environment. Also, to Windows Azure. sharpcloud spent time and money updating and maintaining the “Because we were already cloud-based Amazon servers, creating an application based on time and money that could have the .NET Framework and been focused on solution Silverlight, moving from Amazon development. to Microsoft was relatively straightforward,” says Andrew Lastly was the question of Britcliffe, Chief Software Architect security. As sharpcloud spoke and Co-Founder of sharpcloud. with potential customers, the sharpcloud only had to rewrite a question kept emerging: how modest amount of code to safe is my data? Amazon ensure that its service and promised security but had no storage mechanism would track record in this area. Potential communicate properly with the customers had their doubts, and Windows Azure application so did sharpcloud. programming interfaces. Solution sharpcloud continued developing In mid-2009, the sharpcloud the solution locally rather than in solution was well under the cloud, using a local version of development. But the concerns Windows Azure fabric, provided in over the Amazon Web Services the Windows Azure software
  5. 5. development kit, as the design support, and visibility—that they environment. Developers used need to succeed. The program the Microsoft tools—including the includes access to Microsoft Microsoft Visual Studio Team development tools, platform System 2008 Team Suite technologies, and production and development system and hosting licenses. Participants not Microsoft Expression Blend only gain support from Microsoft design software—with which they professionals, but also from third- were already familiar. party network partners, such as incubators, advisors, and Joining Partner Programs government agencies. The In addition to using Microsoft program also gives startup technologies, sharpcloud took companies visibility into a global advantage of Microsoft partner audience of potential investors, programs. For example, clients, and partners. sharpcloud joined the Front Runner for Windows Azure “The key for us has been the Platform. Front Runner is an early software and support available adopter program for Microsoft without licensing cost,” says solution partners. It provides Khan. “As a small startup, we technical resources, such as have to maximize our investment, application support for Windows and these programs have Azure from Microsoft certainly made our development development experts by phone budget go much further than it and e-mail, as well as access to would have gone otherwise. Windows Azure technical We’ve also had good support resources in one, central place. from Microsoft with technologies Once an application is certified as including Windows 7 and compatible with Windows Azure, Windows Server 2008 R2. And the program provides additional it’s stimulating to get a window marketing benefits. These into what other startups are doing benefits include a promotional with these technologies.” toolkit, including a stamp and news release to use on marketing Using sharpcloud materials, a discount on Ready- to-Go campaign costs, and visibility on a Windows Azure Web site. sharpcloud also joined the Microsoft BizSpark program for software startup companies. BizSpark unites startups with the resources—including software,
  6. 6. To use the sharpcloud service, Once the road map is fully executives and other users populated with events, working within a Web browser, executives can explore it by create a framework for their road moving through a three- map with a single click on the dimensional view that highlights sharpcloud interface. They then the various categories of events define the various attributes and and their attributes (Figure 1). At properties they want to track, any point, executives can explore such as benefit, cost, and risk. the details of an event and add The next step is to add what information and media, such as sharpcloud calls “events” to the streaming video. They can road map—technologies, trends, highlight and explore the and anything else relevant to relationships among events, such Figure 1. The sharpcloud those who will explore or as dependencies and effects. application makes it possible collaborate on the road map. for a team to view events and These events can be assigned to Social networking is a central the relationships among them categories for subsequent aspect of sharpcloud. Users can in a three-dimensional road searching and can be defined by publish road maps to a specified map and to post comments for when they occur and for how team with members located other team members to long. anywhere in the world, or publicly review. to everyone in an organization.
  7. 7. “Partnering with People who use these road maps it not just as a technology can change or add comments to platform, but as an sharpcloud was a any event. The application keeps entrepreneurial environment that a log of these changes and puts startup companies on a level bit of a departure comments so that the creator playing field with the majors. for us, but with can review the revisions. sharpcloud is an example of that.” Windows Azure, Collaborating with Fujitsu In addition to offering the Within a few months from the we know they have sharpcloud service under its own startup of sharpcloud, the the resources to name, the company has technology is being used by established a relationship with government and large corporate deliver on their Fujitsu that is bringing the service users across the United States, to customers of that global Europe, and Asia. promises.” technology provider. Fujitsu has Marc Silvester, Global Chief taken the sharpcloud technology Benefits Technology Officer, Fujitsu and made it the centerpiece of its By making use of the Windows FutureScape consultancy Azure platform, sharpcloud solution, which also includes gained the scalability and security strategy workshops and it needed for its service and executive-level briefings. Fujitsu brought that service to market finds that the sharpcloud service quickly and cost effectively. Khan has helped reduce the planning estimates that, without the phase of major projects for its burden of maintaining cloud customers by 75 percent—from servers, sharpcloud was 200 to six months down to six weeks— 300 percent more productive and accelerated the overall rate than it would have been had it of project development by about stayed on Amazon, saving the 30 percent. company U.S.$400,000 to $500,000 a year. “We are a pretty big organization, and we’re used to Scales to Support Millions partnering with other big sharpcloud is a startup company organizations,” says Marc that needed the technical Silvester, Global Chief Technology resources and infrastructure of a Officer for Fujitsu. “So partnering vast enterprise in order to with sharpcloud was a bit of a provide the global scalability that departure for us, but with its customers would need to Windows Azure, we know they access the solution from have the resources to deliver on anywhere in the world. Windows their promises. We believe that Azure provided this infrastructure cloud computing will usher in a at an affordable price. new era of more dynamic, instantaneous computing. We see
  8. 8. “If you’re using The benefit to sharpcloud is weren’t spending on the incalculable, according to Khan. development of our service.” Microsoft tools to “Before Windows Azure, we could not have released our Britcliffe also found that the create a Microsoft- service and have it scale Microsoft tools he used, most based service, it exponentially to a large number notably the Visual Studio 2008 of potential users,” he says. “We development system, just makes sense wouldn’t exist if we had to build interoperated better with out this level of server capability Windows Azure than it did with to do so in a ourselves. Windows Azure makes Amazon, leading to faster, Microsoft-based it possible for us to scale the smoother development. “If service as needed, using—and you’re using Microsoft tools to cloud paying—only for what we need.” create a Microsoft-based service, it just makes sense to do so in a environment.” Reduces Time-to-Market, Cost of Microsoft-based cloud Andrew Britcliffe, Chief Software Development environment.” Architect and Co-Founder, Time-to-market was a crucial sharpcloud factor for sharpcloud, which sharpcloud used Windows Azure intended to establish its to expedite development in other reputation in part by being first to ways, as well. For example, offer a social-networking Britcliffe notes that Windows development tool for road maps. Azure supported the Agile Windows Azure provided development method that advantages of agility and speed sharpcloud used to bring its not only over traditional service to market. “With development methods, but also Windows Azure, we could quickly over the Amazon Web Services deploy working instances of the environment in which the service, get feedback from users, company began to develop its and create new iterations, service. without having to set up test and development servers.” “The ability to expedite development on Windows Azure The ability to develop code was a key difference from our locally, using Windows Azure experience with Amazon,” says development fabric, saved Britcliffe. “Windows Azure just sharpcloud time and money. works, and you don’t have to “Any time you’re using the cloud worry or even think about it. for development, you’re being Amazon requires a much higher charged for that time,” says degree of maintenance from its Britcliffe. “With Windows Azure, customers—we had to update we did our development work servers and maintain the locally and only went to the cloud environment, and any time we when we were running test spent doing that was time we versions of the application. It
  9. 9. saved us a significant amount of money—very significant for a startup company.” And because the fabric provided a consistent model of the cloud environment, Britcliffe could be confident that what he developed locally would look and run as expected when transferred to the cloud. Enhances Credibility with Major Corporations By using the Windows Azure platform, sharpcloud gained credibility with major corporations —its potential customers—that it would not have had otherwise. The relationship with Fujitsu is just one example of what Khan says is a broader response from the business community. “With cloud computing, there’s almost always a concern about the security of the customer’s data,” says Khan. “Certainly, we were somewhat concerned about how our customers perceived their data security on Amazon. But with Microsoft, we’re not worried. And our potential customers aren’t worried. There’s a high degree of comfort with Microsoft in the corporate environment, and that comfort extends even to startups, like sharpcloud, that rely on Microsoft for cloud computing.” For additional resources, please see: Windows Azure Learning Center
  10. 10. For More Information Windows Azure Platform • Microsoft SQL Azure. Microsoft For more information about The Windows Azure platform SQL Azure offers the first Microsoft products and provides an excellent foundation cloud-based relational and services, call the Microsoft for expanding online product and self-managed database Sales Information Center at service offerings. The main service built on Microsoft SQL (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call components include: Server 2008 technologies. the Microsoft Canada • Windows Azure. Windows Azure To learn more about the Windows Information Centre at (877) is the development, service Azure platform, visit: 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’ connectivity needs through the following services. For more information about • Windows Azure AppFabric. sharpcloud, call + 44 01483 Windows Azure AppFabric 565522, contact enables users to build and, or visit manage applications more the Web site at: easily both on-premises and in the cloud. • The AppFabric Service Bus connects services and applications across network boundaries to help developers build distributed applications. • The AppFabric Access Control provides federated, claims- based access control for REST Web services. Software and Services • Services • Windows Azure Platform • Microsoft Front Runner for • Windows Azure Windows Azure Platform • Microsoft Visual Studio • Microsoft BizSpark • Microsoft Visual Studio Team • Technologies System 2008 Team Suite • Microsoft .NET Framework • Microsoft Expression 3.5 • Microsoft Expression Blend • Microsoft Silverlight 3 This case study is for informational 3 purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published March 2010