With today’s announcements at the Microsoft PDC and our team’s efforts with several customers being announced there, I am posting a blog post for my teammate John Gilmour (Senior Platform Strategy Advisor), so that he can announce our work with Domino’s. So, here’s John:
It has been just over a year since I sat at the 2008 Professional developer’s conference where I heard the term “Window’s Azure” for the very first time. Having only been a Microsoft employee for a few weeks at that time, I certainly was a bit overwhelmed. Sure I had heard about cloud computing – in fact I was hired to help our customers understand our cloud strategy, but at only 3 weeks I certainly had a lot of learning to do.
Fast forward to today and I can honestly say I am more excited about Microsoft and the future of technology than I have even been. I am at the 2009 Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in LA and Ray Ozzie is on stage talking about the public release of our cloud platform, Windows Azure, during his Day one Keynote. That alone is certainly exciting enough, but what is really cool is to have been a part of this journey since the Windows Azure Community Technology Preview (CTP) one year ago.
Over this past year I have become great friends with Jon Box and together we have talked to well over 100 customers at more than 40 companies about cloud computing, highlighting the benefits of the Windows Azure Platform over other cloud strategies. Along the way we worked with our customers and identified many opportunities, two of which are super cool – the Silverlight-based 2009 Country Music Association Music (CMA) Festival applications and the work we are doing with Domino’s Pizza around their online pizza ordering system. We’ll post info on the CMA apps in a future post but today is all about the announcements at PDC.
Now for Domino’s… As part of Ray Ozzie’s Keynote, Jim Vitek, Domino’s Director of eCommerce stated:
‘We have daily peaks for dinner rush, with Friday night being the biggest. Super Bowl, however, has a peak 50 percent larger than our busiest Friday night…Windows Azure allows me to focus on customer facing functionality, and not have to worry about whether or not I have enough hosting capacity to support it.’
This is a great problem to have for a business volume perspective, but creates a lot of challenges from a technology perspective. Let’s dive into this a little more and explore why this is such a great story from several different angels:
- eCommerce in the cloud
eCommerce in the cloud
I still remember being at a customer about 6 months ago when they looked across the table and said “cloud technology, and Windows Azure, are really interesting and seem to offer a lot of promise, but I won’t believe it is real until we see a major company running their ecommerce business in the cloud”. This was a very interesting comment, and I can certainly appreciate that perspective - a company that does a significant amount of eCommerce is not going to commit to a cloud platform unless they are confident in the availability, reliability and security of the offering.
Domino’s is on track to process more than 20M online transaction this year making them one of the busiest ecommerce sites in the world. Like all eCommerce companies, Domino’s anticipates this volume to continue to grow and are beginning to leveraging Windows Azure for these transactions - we can now definitively say that the cloud is real!
Like most restaurant type businesses, Domino’s experiences regular spikes on a daily basis during the dinner rush. On a typical day, this peek “rolls” as the dinner period flows across time zones and this type of variability is an excellent opportunity for Domino’s to leverage the scale-up and scale-down capability of the Windows Azure platform. What is even more interesting is the spike they see on one day each year… Domino’s sees a 50% volume spike each year on Super Bowl Sunday and this spike is the only rush throughout the year where all time zones are in sync. Historically, Domino’s has been forced to procure hardware to support the Super Bowl Sunday phenomenon and keep it up and running the remaining 364 days of the year. With Windows Azure, Domino’s will no longer need to keep physical capacity on hand to support the Super Bowl, they will simply “dial up” the required compute capacity for this spike and release it back to Microsoft when it is no longer needed. Capacity on demand – only use and pay for what you need!
While there are many benefits to the .NET platform, the reality is that not all companies are Microsoft dev shop or they have a mixed dev environment. Domino’s is no exception – they currently leverage the Microsoft stack for their store systems but their Web environment has historically been Java / Tomcat. The scalability section above established the business proposition for leveraging a cloud, but Domino’s did not want to change development technologies to realize this benefit. Guess what – they didn’t have to! Domino’s has been able to take their Java / Tomcat code and deploy it to Windows Azure. That’s right – Tomcat runs in Windows Azure! The business value of this is huge for Domino’s – they are able to continue to develop in the environment of their choice and create code that can run inside their data center or in Windows Azure.
What does this mean? Windows Azure is for real business applications and Domino’s Online Pizza ordering systems demonstrate the power of Windows Azure to both scale to support a major eCommerce application and interoperate with non-Microsoft development technologies.
If you’re interested in more info and happen to be at either PDC in LA or at the Web 2.0 Expo / Interop conference in NY this week, stop by and talk to us:
· Windows Azure Expo Booth
· Lunch Session: Lessons Learned: Migrating Applications to the Windows Azure Platform (Wade Wegner, George Huey)
· PDC Virtual Press Room
· Microsoft Expo Booth
· Microsoft Theater (Wed. 11/18 4:45 – 5:00, Thur. 11/18 11:15 – 11:30)
· Conference Session: Cloud Computing with Windows Azure Using Your Preferred Technology (Sumit Chawla, Microsoft Interoperability Team)
Lastly, a huge thank you to Jon Box for everything you have taught me over the last year – it truly is an honor to have you as a colleague, but more importantly, as a friend.