One of the coolest Windows Azure stories that was told at the recent PDC09 conference was the story of how Jim Zimmerman, CTO of Thuzi built their viral Facebook application for Outback Steakhouse and how it was hosted in Windows Azure.
Outback Steakhouse wanted to encourage repeat guests by creating a social networking presence. Working with Microsoft partner Thuzi, the restaurant chain offered a free appetizer coupon to the first 500,000 visitors to sign up as Outback fans on the Facebook social networking service. They developed the application on the Windows Azure platform in less than eight weeks, taking advantage of its familiar environment, flexibility, and scalability.
I remember talking with Jim back in early September 2009 and how they were really nervous about the scalability requirements for hosting a viral social networking application on Facebook and how the offerings from the other cloud vendors were not a great fit for what they needed in the short-term. Hosting a set of Virtual Machines in Amazon’s cloud offering still required quite a bit of infrastructure and set-up work – and Google’s platform required coding in another language altogether…
After all, how many free Bloomin’ Onions would you guess that folks on Facebook would could give away to one another?
Some of the challenging requirements for that Thuzi faced included:
The solution was developed using the following components:
Windows Azure Solution Components:
Outback Facebook Campaign
They Outback Facebook campaign launched in early November, 2009 and by the time of the PDC in , they had registered over 450k new fans! Their forecast models had predicted viral geometric growth rates and due to the popularity of the offer – and they were right!
Benefits Some of the benefits that Thuzi and Outback gained from this solution included:
This was also a great story on many other levels; especially about how a brick-and-mortar retail chain harnessed the power of social networking to drive real results – really fast!
Be sure to check-out this amazing story that was recently posted on Channel 9’s ARCast.tv:
ARCast.TV - Scaling Facebook Applications with Windows Azure http://blogs.msdn.com/innov8showcase/archive/2010/02/08/arcast-tv-scaling-facebook-applications-with-windows-azure.aspx
And while your at it - feel free to sign-up for a free Bloomin’ Onion at any of the thousands of Outback Steakhouse restaurants across the country...while supplies last!