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As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Andy
Harjanto, Founder and CEO at Gestone about using the Windows Azure platform for
its social-media project management solution. Here's what he had to say:
MSDN: Tell us about Gestone.
Harjanto: Gestone is
a small startup company that has a simple philosophy of combining social media
and productivity tools to help people "get stuff done." Our project management
solution, also called Gestone, combines basic project management tools with the
social-networking site Facebook.
MSDN: What were the biggest challenges that you faced prior to
implementing the Windows Azure platform?
Harjanto: When I was still in the planning stages for Gestone, I
knew that we would have to build it for the cloud. As
a business tool that takes advantage of Facebook, I knew that security would be
a key concern for many organizations, so I wanted a security-enhanced
infrastructure as the backbone for Gestone. Plus, because Gestone is a new
service, we couldn't predict demand with any accuracy, so we wanted an
infrastructure that we could scale up and down as needed. That said, it would
have been impossible from a cost perspective for us to build our own data
center that was both scalable and secure-so cost prohibitive that we never
would have gotten off the ground.
MSDN: Why did you choose the Windows Azure platform?
Harjanto: In addition to meeting our needs for scalability and
security, Windows Azure offers a platform that easily
integrates with other infrastructure technologies that businesses use, such as Active Directory
services and the Windows Server operating system-many cloud providers, such as
Amazon and Google, do not integrate as well.
MSDN: Can you describe the project management solution you built
with the Windows Azure platform to address your need for scalability and
Harjanto: The solution is a browser-based application that uses the Silverlight 4
browser plug-in on the client side and is hosted in web roles in Windows Azure.
Gestone uses Windows Azure storage services, including Table and Blob storage,
deployed in a multitenant environment. Gestone uses one table for each project,
which stores hierarchical data for work items, updates, and posts. For our unstructured
data, such as documents, presentations, and spreadsheets, we use Blob storage
in Windows Azure. We also use SQL Azure to
store relational data, such as billing information.
Gestone, team members can come together through Facebook and collaborate on
MSDN: What makes Gestone unique?
Harjanto: What's different about Gestone compared to other project
management tools is that it combines project management with social networking
and is based on a modern POT (Progress, Ownership and Transparencies) model. This
model encourages greater participation from team members, focus on team goals,
and transparency for all team members. It's designed specifically for our busy,
always-connected, modern digital lifestyle. There's no complicated software to
install and, unlike other robust project management tools, Gestone has a short
learning curve-if you can use Facebook, you can use Gestone. In addition, because
all Gestone components are running on Windows Azure, a company can request a
new cloud account running this service, separate from Gestone.com. This way,
the company has full management control over the data, security, and privacy. Without
the Windows Azure platform, we would not have been able to bring this vision to
MSDN: What kinds of benefits have you realized with the Windows
Harjanto: We achieved critical levels of scalability that have
helped us meet demand,
such as when we saw a high-volume of traffic after receiving prominent press.
We can also take advantage of that scalability to try new business models with
little investment or risk, which is very important to us as a startup company.
We also have the security-enhanced infrastructure that we need to garner trust
from our customers. Microsoft has a commitment to security and meets rigorous
standards in its data centers, and our customers trust the Microsoft name.
Read the full story at: http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/casestudy.aspx?casestudyid=4000009075
To read more Windows Azure customer success stories, visit: www.windowsazure.com/evidence