Windows Azure SQL Database Marketplace
part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Husam Laswi, IT
Director of Factory Operations at Flextronics, about using the Windows Azure platform to deliver the Authorized
Service Center (ASC) application to retail stores. Here’s what he had to say:
MSDN: What does
Laswi: Flextronics is in the business of contract
manufacturing. We tailor design, manufacturing, and services for electronics
OEMs in market segments, including computing, medical, consumer mobile, power
supply, automotive, and more.
MSDN: Tell us
about the ASC application.
Laswi: Originally developed in 2008, ASC is a tool that
Flextronics developed by using
Microsoft ASP.NET. Retailers can use ASC at their retail repair shops to process repair
service requests. For example, employees can use it to review the customer’s
warranty, search for parts in inventory, prepare quotes, upload photos of
products, and track the status of repairs.
MSDN: What was the
biggest challenge Flextronics faced prior to implementing ASC on the Windows
Laswi: We wanted the solution to be
because we didn’t know how fast our customer would adopt the application at its
retail locations. We didn’t have enough data centers to cover the many regions
in which our customer conducts business. If you’re a retail store in Asia, you
don’t want to worry about logging onto a data center in the United States.
Plus, our timeline was limited. We knew that if we hosted the application in
our own data centers, we would have had to deal with requisitions for capital
Retailers can use ASC at their
retail shops to process repair requests.
MSDN: Did you look
at other cloud computing solutions?
Laswi: We evaluated cloud solutions including Salesforce.com
and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). If we had used Salesforce.com, we would
have needed to spend time and effort redeveloping the solution. By using
Windows Azure, we could leverage existing ASC technology. We also determined
that using Amazon EC2 would be like having another server that just happens to
be in the cloud, and we wanted greater interoperability with our traditional
MSDN: Describe the
solution you built with the Windows Azure platform?
Laswi: Our development partner, CloudXtension, a member of the Microsoft Partner
Network, did all the development work to migrate ASC to the Windows Azure
platform. It transformed a static ASP.NET application into a dynamic
client-side application with a rich user interface. CloudXtension also
developed a workaround to enable database object creation and reporting by
using Microsoft SQL
The application also uses Language Integrated Query (LINQ), a set of extensions
to the Microsoft .NET Framework, to retrieve uploaded product photos, which ASC
stores by using server-side Blob storage. ASC also uses Access Control, a part
of Windows Azure
to get access to a proprietary web application that provides estimated payment
MSDN: How long did
it take to deploy to the Windows Azure platform?
Laswi: Starting in April 2010, CloudXtension conducted a
proof-of-concept pilot program that featured the ASC application with basic
functionality—checking in service orders—running on the Windows Azure platform.
CloudXtension spent three months reworking ASC, followed by three months
developing feature enhancements and conducting user acceptance tests. ASC went
into production at one of our customer’s retail stores on September 15, 2010.
MSDN: What benefits
have you seen since implementing the Windows Azure platform?
Laswi: We got ASC to market quickly, saved costs on
capital expenditures and maintenance, and used familiar and reliable Microsoft
technologies. Our customer is extremely happy with the Windows Azure
implementation of ASC. We have been able to sustain our business and enable our
customer to grow its business.
the full story at: www.microsoft.com/casestudies/casestudy.aspx?casestudyid=4000009957
read more Windows Azure customer success stories, visit: www.windowsazure.com/evidence