Consumerisation of IT, multiple devices and the ability to use the cloud to scale and grow your business in new ways has created new challenges and opportunities for all of us. Cloud applications and SaaS have changed the way our ISVs think about their businesses and we have seen a number of interesting and innovative uses of the cloud to extend or build new applications. Over the next couple of months we would like share some of the interesting applications and uses of Windows Azure. Take a look at our first Real World Windows Azure App – LINKFresh Cloud QA by Anglia Business Solutions.

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Fresh food producers are subject to stringent food safety and quality standards, so managing and monitoring this requires a flexible and powerful mobile solution. LINKFresh Cloud Quality Assurance, part of the Anglia Business Solutions' LINKFresh Cloud platform, delivers a mobile device application which offers a complete Business Management solution for the food supply chain industry. The application runs on Windows Azure and captures produce information, including photo capture, signatures and geo location and stores it safely and securely in the cloud for processing.

Richard Jones, Anglia’s Director of Technology, shared thier reasoning for building this application on the cloud and the benefits that it brings to their customers “Reaching a large volume of mobile users stretching across the globe always presents challenges for support, infrastructure and rollout.   Using cloud technology simply made sense for us; we didn’t want the expense of building a backend server environment for each territory we wish to deploy in.   The cloud means that we can switch on and off IT infrastructure as and when we require.  This makes a great customer experience as the end user is always presented with a fast and useable App.  That works reliably all the time.  Being able to provide a unparalleled level of service to mobile users; makes our solution scale and keeps customers enthusiastic and loyal to our product offering.”

He has also commented on how the company made some if its key technical decisions “Windows Azure takes the pain out of deploying large scale systems. The ability to use familiar development tools such as Visual Studio to manage and deploy a cloud solution is truly remarkable. Microsoft's ability to ramp up the number of instances and servers we deploy on makes reaching a large geography of users very straight-forward; we are deploying to a large mobile workforce and Azure fits perfectly with our requirement

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David Gristwood, Windows Azure architect with Microsoft, noted that “This is a really innovative use of Windows Azure. The peak loads that there system has to deal with during busy periods is a perfect match for Windows Azure’s elasticity, which can scale up to cope with high throughout and traffic, then scale back down in quiet periods to reduce the running costs, which make for a really compelling story. Wrapping up their programming logic in Windows Azure web roles reduces the amount of programming effort required to manage this elasticity. Mobile scenarios are very common with Windows Azure, because they enable a wide range of devices to connect to Windows Azure through REST based webs service calls, to upload data and get the very latest information, whilst on the move, or in this case, working in the middle of a field

Fast Facts
    • The LINKFresh Cloud Quality Assurance runs on Windows Azure and uses SQL Azure and Windows Azure storage. The mobile client runs on Windows Phone, Android and iOS
    • To cope with peak time demands, the system has been designed to handle hundreds of GB per day from thousands of workers in fields, farms and warehouses
    • The single code base used for this solution has simplified the development and deployment, and Windows Azure gives Anglia resilience, high availability and international reach without the up-front capital expenditure.
    • Anglia Business Solutions was founded in 1981 and is a gold certified partner based in Cambridge, UK, and was Dynamics partner of the year 2010
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