Real World Windows Azure: Interview with Patricio Jutard, Chief Technology Officer at Three Melons

As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Patricio Jutard, CTO at Three Melons, about using the Windows Azure platform to deliver Bola-an online soccer game available on social networks, such as Facebook  and Orkut. Here’s what he had to say:

MSDN: Tell us about Three Melons and the services you provide.

Jutard: Three Melons is a game studio-we love games. We develop our games for the Web and for smartphones, and all of our games have a social component. 

MSDN: What was the biggest challenge Three Melons faced prior to implementing Windows Azure?

Jutard: We were developing an online soccer game, Bola. As a Facebook application, the game has the potential for a large user base-one that could rapidly gain viral popularity. The ability to handle the processing power and storage required for an application with potentially millions of users was essential for us. At the same time, we needed to be able to scale up and scale down quickly and cost-effectively as demand dictated.

MSDN: Why did you decide to use Windows Azure for the Bola game?

Jutard: We already make extensive use of the Microsoft .NET Framework and Microsoft Visual Studio in our development environment, so we were able to easily and quickly develop on the Windows Azure platform. Also, Windows Azure offers us multiple options for storage-Microsoft SQL Azure for relational storage and Windows Azure storage services for Table, Blob, and Queue storage.

MSDN: Can you tell us more about the Bola game you developed with Windows Azure-what is the gaming experience like?

Jutard: Bola is an easy-to-play online soccer game where you can manage your team, play matches, and challenge your friends. You build your team from its inception, choosing the name, colors, and even signing deals with brands to sponsor your team. You can play instant matches with your friends, and rise to glory by achieving the biggest fan base. In order to earn more fans, you have to buy items to pimp your stadium and boost the performance of your players. You can also sign deals with brands to sponsor your team-all this by sharing the experience with your Facebook friends.

MSDN: What makes Bola unique, and what part does Windows Azure play in that unique quality?

Jutard: Bola is unique in the sense that it is a deep, high-end game experience that you can access from your favorite social networks and play with your friends. With Bola, you get instant action by accessing the game right from your Web browser and the ability to grow your team to glory by achieving fan bases and a nicer stadium.

MSDN: Are you offering your application to any new customer segments or niche markets? Is this the first gaming application you’ve developed for Facebook or other social-networking sites?

Jutard: This is the first social game we’ve developed, and it’s currently live on Facebook and Orkut. We’re seeing a lot of enthusiasm, mostly from Latin American countries such as Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, but the game is starting to penetrate European countries as well.

MSDN: Has your customer base increased since implementing Bola on Windows Azure? 

Jutard: It’s online, and we have a million users already. Windows Azure gives us the confidence that we can handle the huge amount of users that will come with the success of the game.

MSDN: What are some of the key benefits Three Melons has seen since implementing Windows Azure?

Jutard: In addition to being able to scale up and scale down to meet the unpredictable demands of a free, social-networking game, we’re able to develop and deploy Bola with minimal capital expenditures; we didn’t have to invest in costly server infrastructure to host the game. Plus, we only pay for what we use, which is the most cost-effective model available. By relying on Microsoft data centers, we’re confident in our uptime; downtime is something that we simply can’t risk. Finally, we don’t have to worry about infrastructure and tuning the operating system, which enables us to focus on what we do best-create games.

Read more Windows Azure customer success stories, visit: www.windowsazure.com/evidence

See Bola by Three Melons in action at: http://apps.facebook.com/bolasocialsoccer/ and www.playbola.com