LexisNexis weighed several options, including using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud services and hosting the application in its own data center. The company ultimately decided to useWindows Azure, the Microsoft cloud services development, hosting, and management environment, to deliver its new Time Matters app for mobile devices, which is called Time Matters Mobility. Time Matters Mobility from LexisNexis supports numerous mobile operating systems, including Android, BlackBerry OS, iOS, and Windows Phone 7.
LexisNexis executives considered a number of factors in making the decision to adopt Windows Azure over other alternatives. “We quickly realized that, with Windows Azure, we could gain the on-demand scalability we needed in a much more cost-effective way than if we attempted to build out our own multitier infrastructure,” says Paransky. “Plus, the Microsoft solution offers much more than just redundant hardware; it provides a complete set of familiar tools to manage the entire development lifecycle. And it gave us the chance to work directly with the people who know the technology best to make sure we got our application to market as fast as possible.”
To help architect and develop its next-generation Time Matters Mobility offering, the company engaged Microsoft Services. The Microsoft Services team first met with senior executives from LexisNexis to identify the company’s top strategic and business goals, in addition to project requirements and constraints. Based on this analysis, experts from Microsoft created a comprehensive solution framework in consultation with the company’s architecture and security teams.
Mobile App That Makes the Most of the Environment
During the next six months, technical professionals from Microsoft Services worked closely with developers from LexisNexis to create a sophisticated multitier web application that uses a number of components of Windows Azure. Developers used the Microsoft ASP.NET web application framework to create the Time Matters mobile website. They then configured a web role in Windows Azure to host the site’s user interface and provisioned worker roles to process user registration requests and queries for on-premises case data. Developers used Microsoft SQL Azure, which provides cloud-based relational database capabilities built on Microsoft SQL Server technologies, as a resource for managing user logon credentials and endpoint identity information.
Highly Secure Connection Between Cloud and On-Premises Assets
The team also took full advantage of the Windows Azure Service Bus to ensure scalable, reliable messaging between application components hosted in the cloud and workloads running on-premises. Part of Windows Azure, the Service Bus enables direct connectivity to services running behind firewalls and network address translation devices. With help from Microsoft Services, LexisNexis also incorporated rigorous claims-based authorization capabilities into the application by using the Windows Azure Access Control service.
Once registered users log on, they can use their mobile devices to communicate directly with the on-premises version of the Time Matters application to view and edit contacts, manage dockets, and input time and expense data. “Although users are interacting directly with their firms’ network resources, none of the information they retrieve is actually stored in the cloud at any point during their sessions, so they don’t need to worry about potential security threats or data loss,” explains Paransky.