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Real World Windows Azure series spoke to Wolf Ruzicka and Evgeny Popov at EastBanc
Technologies about using the Windows Azure platform to deliver a cloud-based solution
for the public transportation industry. Here's what they had to say:
MSDN: Can you give us a quick
overview of what EastBanc Technologies does and who your customers are?
Ruzicka: We provide custom software
solutions and systems integration services for public agencies and private organizations
that produce technology or use IT to manage their business more effectively. We
help our customers succeed by delivering simple-to-use solutions for complex
challenges, and then wherever possible-just as with the topic we are discussing
here-we retain the IP necessary to develop repeatable software solutions that
help our customers meet common challenges.
MSDN: Was there a particular
challenge you or your customers were trying to overcome that led you to develop
a cloud-computing solution?
Popov: Public transportation authorities
have data on vehicles, routes, and schedules that the technology-development
community could use to build applications and services that can enhance the
public transit experience. But to expose the data in a way developers can use,
the transit agencies would need complex IT infrastructures that require high
initial investments. We wanted to lower that barrier by using cloud computing
to aggregate transit data from multiple sources and expose it as a service on
Ruzicka: From our perspective, we needed
to remove the uncertainty from scalability. When you create a new service, it's
too expensive and too risky to build in excess capacity. If the application
becomes very popular, you can consume time and money with maintenance and
hardware issues as you fight for scalability. We did not want to manage our own
infrastructure-we wanted to minimize management and maximize flexibility.
MSDN: Why did you decide to
adopt Windows Azure? Did you evaluate other offerings such as Amazon Web
Services, Google App Engine, or Salesforce.com?
Ruzicka: We have previously developed
applications on all these services. But for this high-profile public-transit project,
we immediately eliminated providers that offered solutions based simply on virtual
machine hosting, and of all the providers we looked at, Windows Azure was the only one that actually
integrated the work we wanted to do with the tools and technologies we use. A big
decision factor for us was the Microsoft SQL Azure database management service.
With a familiar database engine in the cloud, our developers did not have to adjust
to new data management processes.
MSDN: Can you describe the
solution you built with Windows Azure?
Ruzicka: We built the Public Transit
Data Community (PTDC), an external application programming interface that uses
computing and storage resources in Windows Azure and SQL Azure to combine heterogeneous data
feeds from transportation agencies around the United States into a variety of
open formats. It exposes the data as a web service that developers can use to
create desktop, web, and mobile applications like trip planning tools,
interactive route maps, and live information and notification services. PTDC is
a nationwide one-stop data shop that developers can use to build public
transportation applications that can work across multiple geographical areas.
Figure 1: EastBanc Technologies used
Windows Azure to build the Public Transit Data Community (PTDC), a data service
that developers can use to create applications like trip planning tools and
live information services for devices such as Windows Phone 7.
MSDN: How do you and your
customers benefit from using Windows Azure?
Popov: We're using Windows Azure to connect
public transportation agencies with a development community that creates
applications to enhance and promote public transit services. With PTDC, transportation
authorities, EastBanc Technologies, other ISVs, and independent developers
around the world can build innovative applications for computers, smartphones,
and other mobile devices that can streamline urban navigation and give commuters
more transit options. These options can help make commutes more predictable,
save time, and enhance the commuting experience, which makes public
transportation more attractive and increases ridership.
Ruzicka: For us, our startup,
operational, and maintenance costs are low compared to managing an on-premises
infrastructure or using a local hosting provider, and we have quick, easy,
pay-as-you-go scalability. Best of all, with Windows Azure, our team can
concentrate on what they do best-software development-and not on solving
read more Windows Azure customer success stories, visit: www.windowsazure.com/evidence