As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Nick Beaugeard, Managing Director at HubOne, about using the Windows Azure platform to transform the company into one of the major cloud services providers in Australia. Here's what he had to say:
MSDN: Tell us how HubOne got started as a cloud services provider.
Beaugeard: We were developing enterprise software but we had no customers. I got a call from a friend who manufactures pet products. He needed help troubleshooting an issue with Microsoft Exchange Server. I found that the company was running a host of enterprise software in the middle of a warehouse. I introduced my friend to the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite from Microsoft Online Services, a set of messaging and collaboration tools delivered as a subscription service. It was our first customer and it was a massive success. The pet products company had been paying U.S.$50,000 annually for IT support, and has now reduced its IT expenses to less than $5,000 a year.
MSDN: What kinds of cloud services do you offer customers?
Beaugeard: On July 1, 2010, we rebranded HubOne as a professional consulting service organization for customers who want to take advantage of opportunities to conduct business in the cloud. HubOne offers a managed migration process from an on-premises or hosted solution to the cloud platform and it provides 24-hour support services.
MSDN: Describe how you changed your business model to become a cloud services provider.
Beaugeard: We decided to use cloud services to run HubOne and we would offer only products and services that would provide the highest quality and the greatest reliability. We also determined that the 15 employees at HubOne no longer needed an office; we could communicate by using online productivity tools and hold meetings at local pubs. If the cloud works for HubOne, I can say to a customer, "This is how my company works and it's really cool." That's a really good selling point."
The whole HubOne.com site-including a public website, customer portal, partner portal, and e-commerce ordering solution-is a single Windows Azure application.
MSDN: Describe the HubOne web portal.
Beaugeard: The whole HubOne.com site-including a public website, customer portal, partner portal, and e-commerce ordering solution-is a single Windows Azure application. Customers and partners authenticate to the HubOne web portal with Windows Live credentials. Once customers sign in, they can access the HubOne knowledge base, order services, and monitor account activity.
MSDN: What do you like about the Windows Azure platform?
Beaugeard: Windows Azure enables developers to stage and test a solution before releasing it to production, which is brilliant. Once it's in production, you don't have to change anything and you can't break it. Our production website has not gone down since the day we launched it.
MSDN: How did your developers transition to cloud services integrators?
Beaugeard: Our developers can create applications and services on Windows Azure by using their existing expertise with the Microsoft .NET Framework, a platform for building applications. The company develops applications by using Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 and Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, which automates and streamlines the software delivery process. We then move the code to the Windows Azure platform.
MSDN: How many customers do you have now?
Beaugeard: HubOne has more than 600 customers including a number of enterprise accounts. In October 2010, the Australian Financial Review (AFR.com) named HubOne as one of the country's top-10 rising business stars. We're aiming to be the leading cloud provider in the Asia Pacific region within three years.
MSDN: What benefits have you seen since implementing the Windows Azure platform?
Beaugeard: It's still early in the cloud computing era, so people talk a lot about the cost of acquisition. There are upfront costs, but we don't have to buy servers and infrastructure. People forget about the permanent IT cost reductions. At HubOne, we have removed 90 percent of the complexity of an IT environment and about 60 percent of the management costs, year after year. That's the massive economic shift in cloud computing and it's those ongoing economics are what really change the game.
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To read more Windows Azure customer success stories, visit: www.windowsazure.com/evidence