As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Scott Houston, Chief Executive Officer at InterGrid, about using the Windows Azure platform to deliver the company's GreenButton service. Here's what he had to say:

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

Houston: As a Microsoft Registered Partner, we offer cost-effective solutions for companies that need occasional bursts of computing power for complex, intensive computing processes, such as computer-aided drafting and rendering of high-quality, three-dimensional images.

MSDN: What was the biggest challenge InterGrid faced prior to implementing the Windows Azure platform?

Houston: Our customers, including automobile manufacturers, often render photorealistic designs that require significant computer processing power and can take hours to process. We found that companies occasionally want to render designs much more quickly-such as when they're with a client and making changes to a design. To put in place an infrastructure that would deliver the high-performance computing power needed for those complex processes would be cost-prohibitive and unrealistic.

MSDN: Describe the solution you built with the Windows Azure platform?

Houston: GreenButton is an application programming interface (API) that can be embedded in any software application so that an employee can simply click the GreenButton icon to use Windows Azure compute power on demand. When an employee clicks GreenButton, the job is sent to a Windows Communication Foundation web service, which is hosted in a Windows Azure Web role. It is then sent through the Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus and split into multiple tasks. Each task is then sent to Queue storage in Windows Azure, where it is picked up and processed by Windows Azure Worker roles. Once the processing is complete, users can download the rendered image or animation file.

By using GreenButton, which is embedded in the user interface of a software application such as Deep Exploration by Right Hemisphere, users can render high-quality stills and animation in a matter of minutes.

MSDN: What makes your solution unique?

Houston: With the GreenButton API, any developer who is creating a software application can enable on-demand, high-performance computing. Developers can embed GreenButton into their applications without worrying about provisioning the infrastructure to support the compute processes.

MSDN: Have you reached new markets since implementing the Windows Azure platform?

Houston: We have identified a list of more than 1,000 applications in five industries across 100 million potential users of GreenButton that could immediately recognize benefits of on-demand computing. The future is very bright, especially with a global, stable player in the cloud-Microsoft-behind us.

MSDN: What benefits have you seen since implementing the Windows Azure platform?

Houston: Aside from opening new opportunities, we're able to deliver tremendous value to independent software vendors and their customers. With GreenButton embedded in an application, software users can use the on-demand scalability and processing power of Windows Azure on a pay-as-you-go basis, giving them the ability to cost-effectively render high-quality images in a matter of minutes, but without making heavy investments in server infrastructure.

Read the full story at: www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?CaseStudyID=4000007883

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