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Real World Windows Azure: Interview with Francois Bochatay, CEO and Cofounder, Sobees

As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Francois Bochatay, CEO and Cofounder at Sobees, about using the Windows Azure platform to deliver the company's social-media aggregator…

As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Francois Bochatay, CEO and Cofounder at Sobees, about using the Windows Azure platform to deliver the company’s social-media aggregator and the benefits that Windows Azure provides. Here’s what he had to say:

MSDN: Tell us about Sobees and the services you offer.

Bochatay: Sobees develops software that people can use to manage all of their social-media information streams with a single application. Our aggregator is popular among consumers who use applications such as Twitter and Facebook, and it recently earned a spot as the leading application on the Yahoo! Mail portal in the United Kingdom and later in other countries in Europe. We also have a real-time search platform that aggregates data from multiple search engines.

MSDN: What was the biggest challenge Sobees faced before implementing the Windows Azure platform?

Bochatay: With the exposure we’ve received through Yahoo!, and the potential to acquire millions of new customers, we weren’t confident that the small hosting company we used for our web services and applications could provide the reliability and scalability we needed. We have seven employees, and as we grow, we want to spend time developing new services and focusing on what we do best. We don’t want to have to worry about managing IT.

MSDN: Can you describe the solution Sobees built with the Windows Azure platform to address your need for scalability and reliability?

Bochatay: We migrated all of our web services, applications, and real-time search platform to the Windows Azure platform in just a few days, creating Web roles in Windows Azure to host the Microsoft ASP.NET webpages. We also used the Windows Azure platform for our new business-to-business service, which we are launching in June 2010. The new service sits on top of the social-networking application networks, Twitter and Facebook, and some news feeds. With full access to the Twitter and Facebook application programming interfaces (APIs), Sobees developed its own API and application to enable businesses to monitor Twitter and Facebook feeds and manage Twitter posts based on user-set criteria. In addition, we use Microsoft SQL Azure to store relational data.

MSDN: What makes your solution unique?

Bochatay: One of the great things is that we’re using the new service we developed first for our new business-to-business application, but then we are going to publish the API to the Microsoft technology code-named “Dallas.” Other developers and companies can purchase the API for their own needs, and Microsoft takes care of everything through the subscription service.

MSDN: What are some of the key benefits Sobees has seen since implementing the Windows Azure platform?

Bochatay: With Windows Azure, we don’t have to worry about scalability at all-even with enormous growth, we can handle the demand by quickly spinning up new Web roles. Also, we get enterprise-level service now by hosting at Microsoft datacenters. Microsoft is a name we trust, it’s a name our customers trust, and that kind of reliability is important to our success. Even better, Windows Azure helps us absorb our growing customer base without increasing costs. We’re paying the same amount today with Windows Azure that we were previously, but we have 10 times the number of customers now. To provide the same service to the same number of customers using a traditional model without Windows Azure would have easily cost three times as much.

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