As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to David MacLaren, President and CEO at VRX Studios about using the Windows Azure platform for its enterprise-class digital asset management system, MediaValet. Here's what he had to say:

MSDN: Tell us about VRX Studios.

MacLaren: VRX Studios is a Microsoft Registered Partner that provides content production, management, distribution, and licensing services to over 10,000 hotels across the globe, including brands such as Hilton, Wyndham, Choice, Best Western, Fairmont, and Hyatt.

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

MacLaren: Our biggest challenge came from managing hundreds of thousands of media assets for dozens of large hotel brands that each has thousands of hotels and tens of thousands of users. The digital asset management system that we were using was server based and developed in-house a decade ago. As a result, it could no longer support the scale and increasing growth rate of our image archive-severely limiting our ability to grow our business and provide services to our global clientele.  

MSDN: Can you describe the digital asset management system you built with the Windows Azure platform to address your need for scalability?

MacLaren: After determining we needed to build an entirely new digital asset management system, we looked to the cloud to take advantage of many of its native traits: scalability, redundancy, and global reach. We considered cloud offerings from Amazon, Google, and several smaller providers, but none provided the development platform, support, and programs that we needed to be successful-Microsoft and the Windows Azure platform did.

Our new digital asset management system, MediaValet, uses Blob storage to store all media assets and the Content Delivery Network to cache blobs at the nearest locations to users; we use Table storage to store metadata, which aids in searching media assets; and we use Queue storage to manage events, such as when media assets are added and version control is required. In the near future, we plan to implement the Windows Azure AppFabric and Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket.

MSDN: What makes MediaValet unique?

MacLaren: MediaValet is one of the first 100 percent cloud-based, enterprise-class, globally-accessible, digital asset management systems. Prior to building our own digital asset management system, our research found that existing systems were severally limited by their server-based architecture. By building MediaValet on the Windows Azure platform, our digital asset management system is fully managed, massively scalable, and accessible from anywhere in the world-from any browser; it's highly secure and reliable. This translates to our ability to easily meet the needs of any company, no matter what industry it's in, where its offices are located, how fast it's growing, how much content it has, or how many user accounts it requires.

MSDN: What kinds of benefits have you realized with the Windows Azure platform?

MacLaren: We were able to build MediaValet faster and with 40 percent fewer resources than was previously possible. We eliminated the majority, if not all, of the capital expenses traditionally required for developing and deploying large-scale software offerings, and reduced our hosting costs by up to 40 percent. This alone made our project feasible. Beyond this, the Windows Azure platform enabled us to build a stronger, more scalable, and resilient piece of software. Today, having built MediaValet on the Windows Azure platform, we can now quickly, cost effectively and reliably scale to meet the needs of any of our clients.

Read the full story at: http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/casestudy.aspx?casestudyid=4000008848

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