As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Andy Harjanto, cofounder at Guppers, about using the Windows Azure platform to deliver the company's mobile service, which enables people to access business data from any mobile phone.

MSDN: Tell us about Guppers and the services you offer.

Harjanto:  Guppers enables business to take advantage of mobility, cloud computing, and social networking to exchange business data through email, short messaging service (SMS) messages, and from any mobile device, such as Windows Phone 7.

MSDN: What were the biggest challenges that Guppers faced prior to implementing the Windows Azure platform?

Harjanto: We previously used Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) for data storage in the cloud. However, because we host our own web servers to improve performance, we had to maintain file caches locally, which was time consuming and resulted in inefficient scaling. When we initially launched our service, we had great press coverage and had a huge surge in traffic, but we couldn't copy incoming files to Amazon S3 fast enough. The servers crashed and our website went down temporarily.

MSDN: Can you describe the solution you built with Windows Azure to address your need for scalability and high performance?

Harjanto: We implemented the Windows Azure platform for both our web-based application and our storage needs. When customers use the Guppers service to exchange data, requests are added to Queue storage services where Worker roles in Windows Azure pick up and process the requests. Document files are added to Windows Azure Blob storage and messages are stored in Windows Azure Table storage. We store user and account information in Microsoft SQL Azure. We have to communicate back and forth with telecommunications providers, so we use the Windows Azure platform AppFabric Service Bus to expose our application across network boundaries. To achieve even higher bandwidth, we plan on implementing the Windows Azure Content Delivery Network to cache our blob content.

Figure 1. The Guppers web-based interface. Guppers enables customers to exchange business data through email, SMS text, and any mobile device.

MSDN: What makes your solution unique?

Harjanto: A key differentiator of Guppers, in addition to the unique way we enable customers to access business data, is that we are a small company that can operate websites and services that are on par with popular, high-traffic, enterprise websites. With Windows Azure, latency is a thing of the past and scalability is something we don't even worry about.

MSDN: What kinds of benefits are you realizing with Windows Azure?

Harjanto: We are able to scale up very cost-effectively. Had we scaled up our existing data center to meet demand, we would have paid approximately U.S.$90,000 annually in salary for extra IT resources to just maintain the infrastructure, plus additional operating costs of $700 each month. By using Windows Azure, we don't have to worry as much about fluctuations in a turbulent economy because we only pay for what we use. Development was also fast, which is important to us as a small company that doesn't have unlimited resources to dedicate to projects. It took two developers just two days to migrate our service to Windows Azure, and we'll be able to develop new enhancements in the future just as fast.

Read the full story at:  www.microsoft.com/casestudies/casestudy.aspx?casestudyid=4000007502

To read more Windows Azure customer success stories, visit:  www.windowsazure.com/evidence