Real World Windows Azure: Interview with Martin Svensson, Chief Executive Officer at Sagastream

As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Martin Svensson, CEO at Sagastream, about using the Windows Azure platform to deliver its online video platform. Here’s what he had to say:

MSDN: Tell us about Sagastream and the services you offer.

Svensson: Sagastream is a new online video startup company based in Gothenburg, Sweden. We’ve developed a flexible online video platform-ensity-that includes an easy-to-use tool set that companies can use to successfully upload, manage, and publish interactive online video. With ensity, users can create interactive videos for branding, selling, marketing, and product demonstration, to name just a few examples. Every aspect of the platform, including streaming, encoding, and service hosting, is cloud-based, which helps make our services globally accessible and scalable. The solution is still in closed beta release, but we’re doing a phased rollout during the rest of 2010.

MSDN: Previously, you used Amazon EC2. Can you tell us about your experiences with Amazon EC2 and why you decided to switch to the Windows Azure platform?

Svensson: When we originally used Amazon EC2, we were looking to address a few issues: scalability, manageability, and reducing heavy investments in server infrastructure. With Amazon EC2, we reduced our infrastructural costs, but there was still a lot to manage and we had to implement the scaling logic ourselves, including setting up servers for load balance. Whereas Amazon EC2 offers Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), the Windows Azure platform offers a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that is better suited for our needs. With Window Azure, we don’t have to worry about managing the infrastructure or setting up virtual machines for scalability.

MSDN: Can you describe the solution you built with the Windows Azure platform?

Svensson: Instead of building every component of our platform from scratch, we rely on industry leaders in fields such as encoding and streaming, and we pull everything together with our service-we focus on building the “brain” that controls everything. With video management, server loads are very high, so we need that brain to be smart. That’s where the Windows Azure platform comes in. We use Windows Azure for our computational processing needs, either directly or indirectly on client computers through the application programming interfaces (APIs) hosted on Windows Azure. We use Windows Azure Blob storage for files, Windows Azure Table storage for log files, and Microsoft SQL Azure for our relational data needs.

MSDN: What makes your solution unique?

Svensson: The APIs allow third-party add-ons to easily integrate with ensity, giving customers a single user interface that works with all their add-ons. This feature is unique to ensity and key for accomplishing the otherwise impossible task of making an online video platform that is both easy to use and flexible.

MSDN: What benefits have you seen since implementing the Windows Azure platform?

Svensson: Cloud computing in general is a great solution, and Window Azure is the best option for us because it gives us unmatched scaling capabilities without compromising functionality-and at a lower cost. In fact, by migrating to Windows Azure, we’ve been able to cut our hosting costs in half. Migrating from Amazon EC2 to Windows Azure was easy because we were already familiar with the development environment. We don’t have to worry about managing infrastructure and can just focus on what we do best-building our application.

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

Visit ensity at: www.ensity.net