Windows Azure SQL Database Marketplace
Real World Windows Azure series spoke to Nicklas Andersson, Chief Technology
Officer at eCraft; Peter Löfgren, Project Manager at eCraft; and Jörgen
Westerling, Chief Communications Officer at eCraft about using the Windows
Azure platform to deliver cloud-based website solutions for the company's customers:
MSDN: Can you give as a quick
summary of what eCraft does and who you serve?
Andersson: We are based in Finland and
Sweden, and we help companies around the globe integrate IT systems with
specific business practices by providing consulting and IT services, and
developing customized, easy-to-use interfaces that give our customers access to
powerful business systems and software.
example, a part of our business is set up to help our small to midsized manufacturing-
and energy-industry customers use Microsoft
Dynamics NAV software to manage business processes such as financial
administration, manufacturing, distribution, customer relationships, and
MSDN: Was there a particular challenge
you were trying to overcome that led you to develop solutions that use cloud
Andersson: We wanted to begin developing
and offering our own software to work with Microsoft Dynamics NAV. However, the
customized software that we had built for our larger customers had required
significant investments in hardware, and our Microsoft Dynamics NAV customers
tend to be smaller companies. They are often averse to high costs associated
with buying, operating, and managing new software and hardware on-premises.
the same time, we had to offer these often fast-growing companies the
flexibility to scale solutions up quickly, so we began looking for ways to
deliver solutions as Internet-based services, rather than as software that
customers needed to install and manage themselves.
Westerling: Windows Azure was clearly the most
cost-effective alternative. The other services offered virtual machines in the
cloud that are still yours to manage. But we could use Windows Azure to
actually build a true multitenant solution. Then, we could use the Windows Azure
framework itself to achieve the scalability we wanted without additional
servers to manage, virtual or not.
MSDN: Can you describe the solution that you developed? Which
components of the Windows Azure platform did you use?
Andersson: In 2010, we were contacted by a
customer called PowerStation Oy that
wanted to run a cluster of webshops that it could use to sell ecologically
responsible office supplies and energy-saving products online. We took the
opportunity to develop a Microsoft Dynamics NAV multitenant webshop integrated
with computing and storage resources supplied through Windows Azure. The
databases are managed with Microsoft SQL Azure,
and the webshop links to Microsoft Dynamics NAV through the AppFabric
Service Bus in the Windows Azure
key design goal was to keep the solution as broadly applicable as possible. We
use Windows Azure to deliver a Microsoft Dynamics NAV webshop that works no
matter what you sell on the web. For instance, Powerstation does not
manufacture the products it sells, but a company could link the webshop to the
manufacturing module in Microsoft Dynamics NAV and it would work just as well.
Figure 1: eCraft developed a Microsoft
Dynamics NAV multitenant webshop integrated with computing and storage
resources supplied through Windows Azure.
MSDN: How will using Windows
Azure help eCraft deliver more advanced solutions to its customers?
Lofgren: We used Windows Azure to build
a service that young, fast-growing companies can use to not only cut costs, but
focus on their business, sell more products, and make more money. We've already
begun using Windows Azure to develop more offerings, including an Ideation
Process Management tool, a sales management and tracking tool, and a
parts-ordering webshop for manufacturers. With Windows Azure, we can deliver
services to our customers faster, and remove a lot of the cost, complexity, and
uncertainty that's often associated with adopting a new solution.
Andersson: By using Windows Azure, we are
saving up to 70 percent of what we would have spent to operate the Microsoft
Dynamics NAV-based webshop on-premises or in a Finnish data center. When we
calculate the number of customers we expect for the solution over the next two
years, we expect to save more than U.S.$750,000. And by delivering the solution
as a service through Windows Azure, we can save our customers up to U.S.$50,000
in hardware and other startup costs.
the full story at: http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/casestudy.aspx?casestudyid=4000008842
To read more Windows Azure customer success stories, visit: www.windowsazure.com/evidence
To read more about eCraft and PowerStation, visit: www.ecraft.com and www.powerstation.fi