Real World SQL Azure: Interview with Kent McNall, CEO, Quosal, and Stephen Yu, VP of Development, Quosal

[This article was contributed by the SQL Azure team.]

As part of the Real World SQL Azure series, we talked to Kent McNall and Stephen Yu, co-founders of Quosal, about using Microsoft SQL Azure to open up a global market for their boutique quote and proposal software firm based in Woodinville, Washington. Here’s what they had to say:

MSDN: Can you tell us about Quosal and the services you offer?

McNall: Our flagship product, Quosal, provides sales quote and proposal preparation, delivery, and management software packages. Microsoft SQL Server is the cornerstone of Quosal, and after two years of development, we’ve architected a database that’s optimized for what we do.

MSDN: What were the biggest challenges that Quosal faced prior to adopting SQL Azure?

McNAll: We offer a hosted version of Quosal, but only to customers who work close enough to our data center in Washington to ensure that latency on the network doesn’t degrade performance. We wanted to take advantage of a growing global market for the software-as-a-service option, but would have had to build regional hosting centers, incurring large upfront labor and infrastructure costs and ongoing maintenance. This was a critical impediment to our growth: We had a huge potential market for our hosted customers—virtually a global market—and no way to satisfy them.

MSDN: Can you describe how Quosal is using SQL Azure to help build the business on a global scale?

McNall: With SQL Azure, Quosal can offload all data center infrastructure overhead to Microsoft. Now our customers around the world can choose the hosted option and store their quote and proposal data on servers in global Microsoft data centers. SQL Azure gave us an instant, super-reliable, high-performance worldwide infrastructure for our hosted offering. It was like being given sudden access to a global marketplace at zero cost to the company.

MSDN: How easy was it to migrate Quosal to SQL Azure?

YU: We were thrilled at how easy it was to fine tune our self-maintaining database to run in the cloud environment. We used Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio to simplify the process. Thanks to the similarity between SQL Azure and SQL Server, our development team simply applied their existing programming skills to get the job done in a couple of hours.

MSDN: Are you able to reach new customers since implementing SQL Azure?

McNall: With SQL Azure, Quosal opened the doors to a global marketplace almost overnight. SQL Azure is one of the most tangible ways I’ve seen the cloud touch our customers and our business. Every hosted sale I’ve made in Europe, Australia, and South Africa, I’ve made because of SQL Azure. We’ve increased our global sales by 50 percent in just under a year.

MSDN: What other benefits is Quosal realizing with SQL Azure?

McNall: We are reducing the cost of doing business. We saved U.S.$300,000 immediately by not having to build those three data centers and we are avoiding ongoing maintenance costs of $6,000 a month. We are differentiating ourselves because customers benefit from a cost-effective, highly secure, turnkey alternative to maintaining their data on-premises. We keep getting the same feedback, ‘What’s not to like?’ and that’s reflected in the numbers. Our hosted customer count has risen by 15 percent—25 percent of our total customer base—in just under a year. All I can say is that SQL Azure is one of the finest Microsoft product offerings I’ve ever been involved with.

Read the full story at: www.microsoft.com/casestudies/casestudy.aspx?casestudyid=4000008782

To read more SQL Azure customer success stories, visit:
www.sqlazure.com