Real World Windows Azure: Interview with Nathan Brouwer, Global Partner Support Manager at Figlo
As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, I spoke with Nathan Brower, Global Partner Support manager at Figlo about how the independent software vendor (ISV) is using Windows Azure to expand internationally and realize a 60 percent cost reduction. Read the customer success story. Here’s what he had to say:
Himanshu Kumar Singh: What does Figlo do?
Nathan Brouwer: Figlo develops financial planning solutions that advisors use in working with their clients. Our flagship product, the Figlo Platform, offers professionals a rich set of data visualization tools for tracking client asset performance. With our solution, advisors can provide clients with anywhere access to account data while offering a variety of ways to interact with their financial information.
HKS: What opportunities do you see with cloud technologies`?
NB: The Figlo Platform has an advanced multicurrency calculation engine that can be adapted to fit local financial regulations, which is an advantage in international markets. We wanted to start distributing the solution globally using our established subscription-pricing model. We saw an opportunity to shift from hosting the Figlo Platform in our corporate data center to hosting it in a cloud environment to gain scalability and reduce operating expenses.
HKS: What cloud solutions did you explore?
NB: We began evaluating cloud platforms in late 2010. We had previously used Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) to host the Figlo Platform for a customer in the United States. Our developers found that the tools and processes for deploying applications to the Amazon cloud service required several manual, time-consuming steps. We looked into Windows Azure, the Microsoft cloud services development, hosting, and management environment. Because Windows Azure delivers true platform-as-a-service capabilities through a set of easy-to-use tools, it offers a much more complete solution for our business.
HKS: What steps did you take to launch the Figlo Platform in the cloud?
NB: In January 2011, we spent a few weeks moving the Figlo Platform to Windows Azure and SQL Azure. The solution is built on the ASP.NET web application framework and uses Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database management software. It also incorporates user interface components built on Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in technology. Our developers used Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio to complete the application conversion and testing processes in two weeks.
HKS: What business model are you using for delivering the Figlo Platform in the cloud?
NB: Since releasing the Figlo Platform on Windows Azure, we have continued to deliver the solution as a subscription service. We offer discounted pricing for large-volume multitenant deployments. Customers who require a single-tenant configuration pay a yearly hosting fee in addition to the base subscription price. We still operate on the same basic business model, but now we can get customers set up in less time, which means we can start realizing revenue faster.
HKS: Describe some of the other benefits of Windows Azure for Figlo.
NB: Figlo spends 10,000 euros (U.S.$14,700) annually per instance to host the Figlo Platform on Windows Azure. Previously, we spent 25,000 euros (U.S.$36,700) annual per instance to maintain a hosted server environment. We calculate a total savings of U.S.$22,000 per instance per year, which is a 60 percent cost reduction. In addition, with Windows Azure, we can tailor the configuration of the infrastructure to fit each customer’s exact needs and deploy our solution in minutes, rather than hours or days.