As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Melvin Greer, Chief Strategist of Cloud Computing, Information Systems, and Global Solutions at Lockheed Martin, about using the Windows Azure platform to develop the company's ThundercloudTM design pattern. Here's what he had to say:

MSDN: Tell us about Lockheed Martin and the services you offer.

Greer: Lockheed Martin is well known as a premier defense contractor. We are principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services. We also develop innovative IT solutions for government, healthcare, and energy markets.

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

Greer: We wanted to give our customers the benefits of cloud computing, such as high performance, flexibility, and a consumption-based pricing model. At the same time, though, particularly for our federal government customers, we need to enable them to balance security, privacy, and confidentiality concerns.

MSDN: Can you describe the solution you built with Windows Azure to deliver the benefits of cloud computing while addressing security and privacy issues?

Greer: We used the Windows Azure platform to develop Thundercloud design patterns, which help customers integrate on-premises IT infrastructure with computing, storage, and application services in the cloud and then extend those applications to a remote, portable, or handheld mobile device. By powering Thundercloud applications with Windows Azure, our customers can add or remove computing resources to a solution quickly, paying only for what they use. Developers can also use Windows Azure platform AppFabric to enhance Thundercloud-based applications by integrating on-premises enterprise data sets and security methods to computing resources in the cloud.

MSDN: What makes your solution unique?

Greer: Design patterns are important tools used by engineers, architects, and software developers to provide technical solutions faster, with consistent compliance to best practices, all at a lower cost. With Windows Azure, customers can take advantage of Thundercloud design patterns to build applications with familiar tools, such as the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 and Microsoft SQL Azure.

MSDN: Have you offered Thundercloud to any new markets since implementing the Windows Azure platform?

Greer: What we have done is built five innovative mission-focused end-user applications: Healthcare Case Management, Augmented Reality for First Responders, Weather and Ocean Observing, Records and Information Management, and Biometric-Enabled Identity Management. We did this in order to effectively demonstrate the viability of the pattern, data portability from one cloud to another, interoperability between clouds, and extension of cloud services to multiple mobile devices.

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

Greer: By using Windows Azure, we're able to give our customers the IT capacity that comes with cloud computing and storage, but at a savings of 40 to 60 percent over traditional infrastructure costs; the federal government spends nearly U.S.$80 billion on IT capabilities, so that's potentially a significant savings. At the same time that customers reap the benefits of cloud computing, they can do so while still preserving their confidential data in their own on-premises infrastructure-that's the beauty of the Windows Azure platform and AppFabric.

Read the full story at: www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?CaseStudyID=4000007971

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