Real World Windows Azure: Interview with Steve Orenstein, CEO at Connect2Field

As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Steve Orenstein, Chief Executive Officer at Connect2Field, about using the Windows Azure platform to deliver the company’s software-as-a-service application. Here’s what he had to say:

MSDN: Tell us about Connect2Field and the services you offer.

Orenstein: Our company’s namesake, Connect2Field, is a web-based field service and job management software application. By using Connect2Field, businesses can manage customers, track jobs, dispatch and schedule work to employees in the field, manage inventory, provide quotes, and communicate easily with customers via email and short message service (SMS).

MSDN: What were the biggest challenges that Connect2Field faced prior to implementing the Windows Azure platform?

Orenstein: Maintaining server uptime was a challenge for us-and a critical one-because any downtime for our customers can have a negative impact on their daily operations. We also need to ensure replication of our Microsoft SQL Server databases to give customers peace of mind that their data is protected; however, managing that replication became a headache for us. In addition, maintaining server hardware was very expensive and time consuming.

MSDN: Can you describe the solution you built with Windows Azure to address your need for high performance?

Orenstein: We migrated our existing application, which was originally built with Microsoft ASP.NET, to the Windows Azure platform. We are taking advantage of Microsoft SQL Azure and its built-in replication for our relational database needs. We’re also using the Windows Azure Content Delivery Network to cache content at global data center nodes-this helps us deliver uptime and high levels of performance that we need for our global audience.

MSDN: What makes your solution unique?

Orenstein: Connect2Field is the first field service software application that runs in the cloud and is available to small and large customers. Any service business can get instant access to the software for as little at U.S.$65 a month. Connect2Field also has an application programming interface (API) that allows our application to connect with other cloud-based applications.

MSDN: Do you offer Connect2Field to any new markets since implementing the Windows Azure platform?

Orenstein: Yes! Prior to Windows Azure, we only offered our service to customers in Australia and New Zealand. But with Windows Azure, we have cost-effective scalability and global data center presence through Microsoft that enables us to offer our solution globally.

MSDN: What kinds of benefits are you realizing with Windows Azure?

Orenstein: We have reduced the amount of time we spend maintaining server hardware by 95 percent and, at the same time, have eliminated the need for ongoing capital expenses for new hardware purchases in the future. With the Content Delivery Network, we have been able to not only ensure a global data center presence, but we’ve done so at a savings of $2,500 a month-what it would have cost to use an alternative solution, such as Akamai.

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

For more information on Connect2Field, visit: www.connect2field.com