CitySourced has selected Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform as the foundation for their application infrastructure.. 

We will do a detailed blog-post over the next month or two, but below is a short one about FreedomSpeaks/CitySourced, goals to address their future needs, and broad outline of their plans to leverage Microsoft’s suite of Windows Azure services. 

Background about the organization and the service - CitySourced is a real time mobile civic engagement tool. The CitySourced suite of applications has three main components. 1) The Console, which provides an administrative extranet for government agencies to manage the incoming customer support requests; 2) The Website, a consumer facing website encouraging citizens to engage with their local government as well as providing complete transparency to their government’s day-to-day operations; 3) A Smartphone application that enables citizens and residents to submit non-emergency service requests (i.e., potholes, graffiti, trash, snow removal, etc.) directly to their local government. The CitySourced platform presents a unique opportunity for government to use technology to both save money and improve accountability to those they govern. It also creates a positive, collaborative platform for real action. The mission of CitySourced is to transform civic engagement and enable citizens to make their communities a better place.

Here are some of the goals/drivers that led CitySourced to adopt cloud-based offering:

  • CitySourced’s application utilized multi-layered architecture based on Microsoft ASP.NET on Windows Server 2003/IIS6.0 and SQL Server 2005 on three servers. CitySourced continues to get a lot of visibility in various cities around the country, and needed a plan to implement a scalable cloud based solution to handle the anticipated future demand.
  • Focus was more on deliver better service and high-value features to both the government and consumer entities, so the goal was to stay away from hardware/software acquisition, management and monitoring of the infrastructure and the application.
  • CitySourced also wanted to improve back-end job-processing service and log storage.
  • CitySourced explored several options with the key goal being to avoid making major changes to their application code-base, in-memory cache layer and database layer.
  • All of the above helped CitySourced choose Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform to host and manage the CitySourced application.

Goals & plans for Phase 1: (To be completed by March, 2010)

· Migrate the entire application infrastructure to Azure (web, cache, and databases) with a minimum amount of disturbance to their core business processes.

· Migrate with a minimal amount of refactoring to existing code (focusing on system changes, not code changes).

Goals & plans for Phase 2: (To be completed by May, 2010)

· Leverage Windows Azure Storage & Tables for more scalable storage of logs and other binary data (such as serialized hash tables and image blobs).

· Migrate their existing homegrown (and database dependent) queue workflow to Windows Azure Queue services.

· Offload jobs processing from Window’s based services onto dedicated worker instances.

Benefits & End-Result- CitySourced is confident that a cloud computing solution based on Microsoft Windows Azure will enable them to deliver better service to a broader audience (more customers) without worrying about infrastructure, software acquisition and service management.

High-Level architecture of their next-generation solution:

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Here are some pointers/resources in case your organization would like to learn and apply Windows Azure as part of your cloud-computing initiatives.

Think way outside the box :)