The Real World Windows Azure series spoke to Rok Bermež, Lead Programmer at Kompas Xnet, and Uroš Žunič, Development Manager at Kompas Xnet, about using the Windows Azure platform to deliver cloud-based website solutions for the company's customers. Here's what they had to say:

MSDN: Can you give us a quick summary of what Kompas Xnet does and who you serve?

Bermež: Kompas Xnet was originally established as the IT support and training group for the Slovenian company KOMPAS d.o.o. We became a separate entity in 1995, and now have offices throughout Slovenia. We've been a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner since 2005 and provide consulting and training services for developers and users of most of the standard business technology solutions, including software from Adobe, Corel, and Microsoft. We also deliver custom software and website development and IT infrastructure support for a variety of large and small businesses throughout Europe.

MSDN: Was there a particular challenge you were trying to overcome that led you to use the Windows Azure platform?

Žunič: We were contracted by Microsoft to develop a website for the NT Konferenca 2010, the largest annual tech-education conference in Slovenia, attended by more than 2,000 IT professionals from all over the region-basically all our colleagues and competitors. In previous years, the conference used solutions delivered by local hosting providers, but connectivity issues interrupted the availability of the site during every conference. 

We had to create a solution that could help manage every aspect of the conference, but our most important requirement was that the application had to be available at all times. We believed we could use cloud technology to deliver high functionality, ensure 100 percent availability, and avoid the high up-front cost of deploying an on-premises solution.

MSDN:  Can you describe the solution that you developed? Which components of the Windows Azure platform did you use? 

Žunič: We built the NT Konferenca 2010 website (http://www.ntk.si) and a back-end administrative interface using Windows Azure and Microsoft SQL Azure. Attendees used the site for tasks such as registering, finding event schedules, and downloading materials. We also used Windows Azure to do a lot of the back-end functionality.

Bermež: Our developers used SQL Azure to manage the website databases and Windows Azure storage services to store profile-images, presentations, and other data. We used Windows Communication Foundation and Queue storage in Windows Azure to connect the website to on-premises security, registration, and accounting systems. We also used Microsoft Silverlight 3 to build an application for viewing conference lectures and presentations on the website.

MSDN: How does using Windows Azure help Kompas Xnet deliver more advanced solutions to its customers?

Žunič: Everybody at NT Konferenca 2010 was very happy with the website and the connectivity problems that had plagued earlier conferences were completely gone. With that success, we were able to coordinate the deployment of the conference website with other projects. We're already working on an online presence for the Slovenian chapter of UNICEF and a new website for one of the largest newspapers in Slovenia.

Bermež: Because Windows Azure works so seamlessly with classic web-development tools like ASP.NET and the Microsoft Visual Studio development system, developing for Windows Azure significantly lowers the barriers for entry into the cloud. With Windows Azure, we can develop high-availability solutions with cycles as short as a few days or even hours.

Figure 1. Kompas Xnet used components of the Windows Azure platform to build the functional elements of the NT Konferenca 2010 website (www.ntk.si).

Read the full story at: www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?CaseStudyID=4000008462

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