The Reference, the full service digital agency from Ghent, has been part of the Microsoft Azure Circle for a while now. Recently the public websites of steel wire producer Bekaert were successfully migrated to Windows Azure.
Windows Azure, the cloud solution from Microsoft, meets all the conditions of a Platform as a Service (PaaS). Where cloud providers are limited to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Windows Azure allows to create a cloud-hosted web application wherein the software architecture obtains the full attention and the hosting platform "simply is".
More specifically, Windows Azure allows (for web applications)
- ... a quick release, both in test and in production.
- ... more computing speed and memory capacity to be allocated.
- ... soon to release test versions, where you only pay for the days when the version is kept available. Combined with an SLA of 99.95%, a low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and the presence of global data centers, Windows Azure is an excellent platform for hosting web applications.
Bekaert on Windows Azure
The Reference previously developed the website of Bekaert in Microsoft. NET via the Sitecore CMS. Recently this site was also provided with a fully modular home page. Together with Microsoft, Bekaert and The Reference now placed this new website "in the cloud" so that Bekaert can make use of the full advantages of this environment. The key benefits of this move are stability, elasticity (scalability) and a transparent and flexible pricing model that results in a low TCO.
http://www.bekaert.com is used worldwide, in many languages, and was therefore released on two of the six data centers of Windows Azure. Due to the strong presence of Bekaert in Asia, in addition to the data center in Amsterdam the data center in Hong Kong was also chosen. With the Azure feature 'Traffic Manager', visitors of the website are automatically connected to the data center closest to them. This way the 'latency' of the visitor is reduced to a minimum.
Due to the architecture of the Azure platform, high availability is guaranteed. Should an "instance" fail or restart, scheduled after updates, Windows Azure will provide an automatic startup of a new instance of your application.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
In addition to high availability and very fast and flexible scalability, in cloud-based apps there also is the factor of the major cost reduction: At the start one does not have to design a topology calculated for the maximum "load" that the application could ever undergo. The elasticity of Windows Azure allows to scale the capacity of the project in a very simple and cost effective way. The efforts of scaling the project is only a fraction compared to adding "a new server and reinstalling the web application software" in traditional topologies. There is indeed no hardware or operating system involved. The web application is immediately deployed again, what come down to a maximum of one hour in Windows Azure. The 'per usage, per Day' cost structure, on the other hand, allows for quick and easy adding of new or additional versions of an application or database , and all this in a very profitable way. Only the consumed capacity is - on a daily basis - paid.