As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Paul Hernacki, Chief Technology Officer at Definition 6 about using the Windows Azure platform, in combination with its content management system from Umbraco, to host its customers' websites. Here's what he had to say:
MSDN: Tell us about Definition 6 and the services you offer.
Hernacki: Definition 6 is a unified marketing agency that redefines brand experiences by unifying marketing and technology. We focus on developing interactive, rich-media websites and web-based applications that engage users and turn them into brand advocates for our customers. Most of the websites we develop are large, content-managed websites.
MSDN: What were the biggest challenges that you faced prior to implementing the Windows Azure platform?
Hernacki: We were looking for a content management system built on the Microsoft .NET Framework and one that worked well with Microsoft products and technologies that are commonly found in our customers' enterprise environments, such as Windows Server. For that we turned to Umbraco, an open-source content management system that is based on Microsoft ASP.NET. From there, we needed a cloud-based service that would work with Umbraco. While we offer traditional hosting methods, some of our customers wanted to host their websites in the cloud in order to scale up and scale down to meet unpredictable site traffic demand and to avoid capital expenditures.
MSDN: Why did you choose the Windows Azure platform?
Hernacki: We evaluated cloud offerings from Amazon and Google but neither of them seamlessly blend with the way we work, nor do they allow us to continue working exactly as we are with the tools that we have to build the websites that we want to build for our customers. However, Umbraco developed an accelerator that enables customers to deploy websites that use the content management system on the Windows Azure platform, which works seamlessly with customers' enterprise IT environments.
MSDN: Can you describe how you use the Windows Azure platform with the Umbraco content management system for customer websites?
Hernacki: We tested the solution on the Cox Enterprises' Cox Conserves Heroes website, which we completely migrated from our colocation hosting environment to the Windows Azure platform in only two weeks. We use web roles for hosting the website, easily adding new web role instances to scale up during high-traffic periods and reducing the number of instances to scale down when the site typically sees the fewest number of visitors. We also use Blob storage in Windows Azure to store binary data and Microsoft SQL Azure for our relational database needs.
MSDN: What makes Definition 6 unique?
Hernacki: In addition to the interactive sites we develop for our customers, we can also deliver a solution that includes a content management system and cloud service that all work together-and work well in an enterprise IT environment. It makes our customers' marketing directors and CIOs both happy.
MSDN: What kinds of benefits have you realized with the Windows Azure platform?
Hernacki: Development and deployment was very straightforward. We used our existing skills and development tools, including Microsoft Visual Studio development system, to migrate the website to the Windows Azure platform. Plus, we won't have to change the way we work going forward. We now have a viable cloud-based solution that we can offer to our customers. By using Windows Azure and the Umbraco accelerator, we can meet our customers' complex content management needs and their desire to take advantage of the benefits of the cloud.
To read more Windows Azure customer success stories, visit: www.windowsazure.com/evidence