Real World Windows Azure: Serbian National News Agency Website Successfully Serves Visitors During Election Spikes

As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we connected with Aleksandar Milinković, head of technical services at Tanjug to learn more about how the news agency’s website served spikes of 400,000 visitors using Windows Azure. Read Tanjug’s success story here. Read on to find out what Aleksandar had to say. 

Himanshu Kumar Singh: Tell me more about Tanjug?

Aleksandar Milinković: As the Serbian National News Agency, Tanjug releases about 400 news items every day on the most important political, economic, social, cultural and sports events in the country and abroad.

In addition to daily uploading written, photo, audio and video reports for the website users and visitors, Tanjug news service is an invaluable resource for all media in emergency and unexpected situations. An event certain to attract great interest of Serbian public is elections at all levels.

HKS: What led you to evaluate cloud services?

AM: In usual circumstances, IT infrastructure used by Tanjug functions in such a way that it runs at capacity on a daily basis. In preparation for presidential, parliamentary and local elections scheduled for May 2012, we were on the lookout for a solution that could quickly and easily scale to prepare for high loads, while adhering to budget restrictions. In addition, the solution would need to seamlessly integrate with the current IT infrastructure consisting of 250 workstations and 24 servers, with a heterogeneous software environment comprising Microsoft Windows and Ubuntu Linux operational systems.

HKS: How did you decide to use Windows Azure?

AM: We selected Windows Azure because of its scalability, ease of deployment and low cost, but most importantly the platforms ability to integrate our existing infrastructure.

How does Windows Azure fit into the solution?

AM: The current website, developed in Microsoft ASP.NET technology and run by Microsoft IIS, was given a new segment entitled “Elections 2012”, the hosting of which was switched to Windows Azure platform. Any visitor clicking on the link “Elections 2012” on Tanjug website homepage would be automatically redirected to the website segment hosted on Windows Azure platform.

In order to meet and evenly distribute maximum possible loads, six small Windows Azure instances were deployed. For data storage 500 GB were set aside in Windows Azure storage order, and management of the database was entrusted to 5 GB Windows Azure SQL Database system. In order to ensure additional reliability, Content Delivery Network (CDN) mechanism for caching and distribution according to visitor location was used, which was crucial for high quality placing of contents requiring large bandwidth. The development of this segment of Tanjug website involved Visual Studio 2010, along with ASP.NET MVC 3 technology and Entity Framework 4.0.

HKS: What are some of the operational benefits you’ve seen with Windows Azure?

AM: By introducing this cloud supplement to the existing IT structure, Tanjug managed to scale up its website in a simple and efficient way, with minimum investment and adequately met high loads during peaks in the election process. During the final five days of the election campaign, our website had more than 400,000 visitors, and thanks to the integration of the existing and cloud infrastructure we managed to keep the quality of our services at the level our clients expect. Moreover, it was not necessary to invest in expensive IT infrastructure, the capacities we would not be able to make adequate use of after the elections are over.

Read how others are using Windows Azure.