Windows Azure SQL Database Marketplace
part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Carl Ryden, CTO at
MarginPro, about using the Windows Azure platform for its loan pricing and
profitability system. Here's what he had to say:
MSDN: Tell us about MarginPro
and the services you offer.
Ryden: MarginPro develops loan deposit pricing
and profitability management software for community banks and credit unions.
Our solution takes the intuition and guesswork out of loan structures and risk
assessments to help banks increase their net interest margin and to be as
competitive as possible when competing for the best borrowers.
MSDN: What were the biggest
challenges that you faced prior to implementing the Windows Azure platform?
Ryden: From the beginning, we
developed MarginPro for the cloud-to allocate resources for an on-premises
server infrastructure would have been a no-starter for us, especially
considering that we have to have a certifiably-secure data center. We hosted
MarginPro at a third-party hosting provider, GoGrid, where we maintained
virtual application servers and a database server. However, maintaining those
servers took a substantial percentage of my time each day. At times, it was all consuming and
worse yet, more often than not, I had to perform this work during off hours,
such as late nights and weekends. That's
time that I could be devoting to our core business. Customers don't pay me to
manage servers; they pay me to deliver world-class loan pricing software.
MSDN: Can you describe the solution
you built with the Windows Azure platform to address your need for a highly secure,
low-maintenance cloud solution?
Ryden: Our web-based application is
built on Microsoft ASP.NET MVC 2 and uses the Microsoft Silverlight 4 browser plug-in. We host that
in Windows Azure web roles. We also use Queue storage and
worker roles to handle some of our complex computing needs. All of our data is
stored in Microsoft SQL Azure, which is deployed in a
multitenant environment. We also cache that relational data into Table storage
in Windows Azure so that each time a customer calls data from the application,
it is pulled from the tables and doesn't have to hit the database each time.
When we need to deploy updates, we create new instances, use MSBuild [Microsoft
Build Engine] to deploy the updates to the new instance, and then flip a switch
to go live. We don't have to take down virtual servers and risk interrupting
our service now.
MSDN: How does the Windows
Azure platform help you better serve your customers?
Ryden: MarginPro integrates with our
customers' core banking systems and enables customers to update the strategic
value of their accounts for optimum loan pricing. This is a
computationally-heavy process. Without Windows Azure, we'd have to run these
processes sequentially for each customer, but now, we can run them in parallel
by scaling up new computing instances. The integration module wouldn't be
possibly without Windows Azure.
MSDN: What kinds of benefits
are you realizing with the Windows Azure platform?
Ryden: A lot
of times, benefits come down to money. For us, it's not that simple. The
biggest benefit for us is that we don't have to worry about maintaining an
infrastructure. We have a SAS 70 Type II-compliant infrastructure that is
maintained by Microsoft, which leaves us to focus on what we do best. We can
let Microsoft take care of what they do best, we can focus on creating
world-class loan pricing software, and our customers can focus on their core
the full story at: http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/casestudy.aspx?casestudyid=4000008935
more Windows Azure customer success stories, visit:www.windowsazure.com/evidence