Windows Azure SQL Database Marketplace
part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Arthur Haddad, Development
Lead and Architect at Esri, about using the Windows Azure platform to deliver the
company's cloud-based geospatial data service. Here's what he had to say:
MSDN: Tell us about Esri and
the services you offer.
Haddad: Esri is a leading developer of Geographic Information System (GIS)
technology, earning as high as a one-third share of the worldwide GIS software
and businesses in dozens of industries use our products to connect business,
demographic, research, or environmental data with geographic data from multiple
MSDN: What was the biggest
challenge Esri faced prior to implementing the Windows Azure platform?
Haddad: Traditional GIS applications
have required a significant investment in software, hardware and development
because of their extensive ability for customization. We wanted to reach new markets
by developing a lightweight offering that organizations could use to connect
enterprise and spatial data, without having to invest in new on-premises
infrastructure and staffing. In 2009, we introduced a software solution called
MapIt that customers can deploy in their on-premises IT environment; we also
wanted to develop a cloud-based version of MapIt.
MSDN: Describe the solution you
built with the Windows Azure platform?
Haddad: We built
the MapIt Spatial Data Service to work with the Windows Azure cloud services
platform and Microsoft SQL Azure. MapIt connects to Windows Azure to prepare and serve
data for viewing in a geographical context. Customers can upload map data to
SQL Azure and geo-enable existing attribute data to prepare it for use in mapping
applications. The MapIt Spatial Data Service connects to SQL Azure and provides
a web service interface that allows mapping applications to access the spatial
and attribute data that is stored in SQL Azure.
MSDN: What makes your solution
Haddad: We developed the ArcGIS application programming
interface (API) for the Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in and Windows
Presentation Foundation. Customers can use ArcGIS to build rich mapping
applications with data in SQL Azure or use application solutions developed on
Silverlight and integrated with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 or
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. What's unique is that when customers deploy MapIt on Windows Azure, they can write
a simple application that allows them to use GIS without having to be a GIS
expert. It's mapping for everybody and extremely easy to employ.
Esri developed the ArcGIS API for Microsoft
Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation. This application displays a
map provided by Bing Maps, integrated with census data stored in SQL Azure and
accessed using the MapIt Spatial Data Service.
MSDN: Have you reached new
markets since implementing the Windows Azure platform?
Haddad: By introducing MapIt as a
service offered through Windows Azure, we are opening channels with a whole
range of new customers. We are reaching new markets among organizations that
traditionally have not used GI, and expanding our relationships with customers
who want to introduce GIS to other parts of their organization.
MSDN: What benefits have you seen since implementing
the Windows Azure platform?
Haddad: One of the key benefits is that
we've lowered the cost barrier for customers to adopt GIS technology. Customers can deploy the MapIt service in Windows
Azure without having to configure and deploy new hardware and install software
packages, which can take weeks or months and cost tens of thousands of
dollars-not to mention the ongoing costs associated with IT maintenance, power,
and data storage. Also, by taking advantage of Windows Azure, we are offering
our customers new ways to deploy new services quickly.
the full story at: www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?CaseStudyID=4000007771
more Windows Azure customer success stories, visit: www.windowsazure.com/evidence