Real World Windows Azure: Interview with Glen Knowles, Cofounder of Kelly Street Digital

As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Glen Knowles, Cofounder of Kelly Street Digital, about using the Windows Azure platform to deliver the Campaign Taxi platform in the cloud. Here’s what he had to say:

MSDN: Tell us about Kelly Street Digital and the services you offer.

Knowles: Kelly Street Digital is a self-funded startup company with eight employees-six of whom are developers. We created Campaign Taxi, an application available by subscription that helps customers track consumer interactions across multiple marketing campaigns. Designed for advertising and marketing agencies, it helps customers set up digital campaigns, add functionality to their websites, store consumer information in a single database, and present the data in reports.

MSDN: What was the biggest challenge Kelly Street Digital faced prior to implementing Campaign Taxi on the Windows Azure platform?

Knowles: The Campaign Taxi beta application resided on Amazon Web Services for seven months. We had to hire consultants to manage the cloud environment and the database servers. Not only was it expensive to hire consultants, but it was unreliable because they sometimes had conflicting priorities and they lived in different time zones. In December 2009, a few days before the Christmas holiday, the instance of Campaign Taxi in the Amazon cloud stopped running. Our consultant was on vacation in Paris, France. I couldn’t call Amazon, and they provided no support options. The best we could do was post on the developer forum. When you rely on the developer community for support, you can’t rely on them at Christmas time because they’re on holiday. We needed a more reliable cloud solution.

MSDN: Describe the solution you built with the Windows Azure platform?

Knowles: We did a two-week pilot program with Campaign Taxi on the Windows Azure platform. The first thing we noticed was that the response time of the application was significantly faster than it had been with Amazon Web Services. It took one developer three weeks to migrate the application to Windows Azure. We sent our lead developer to a four-hour training through Microsoft BizSpark, and then he quickly wrote a script that ported the application’s relational database to SQL Azure. The migration from Microsoft SQL Server to Microsoft SQL Azure was quite straightforward because they’re very similar. We use Blob storage to import consumer data, temporarily store customers’ uploaded data files, and store backup instances of SQL Azure.

The Campaign Taxi application aggregates consumer interactions during marketing campaigns.

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

Knowles: We paid U.S.$4,970 each month for Amazon Web Services; the cost of subscribing to the Windows Azure platform is only 16 percent of that cost-$795 a month-for the same configuration. I can use the annual cost savings to pay a developer’s salary. Also, Campaign Taxi runs much faster on the Windows Azure platform. For that kind of improved latency, we would have paid a premium. Windows Azure is an unbelievable product. I’m an evangelist for it in my network of startups. We’ve chosen this cloud platform and we’re sticking with it.

Read the full story at:  http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/casestudy.aspx?casestudyid=4000009046

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