MSDN: What services does Lokad provide?
Vermorel: Lokad delivers forecasts as a service. Companies send us data, and we return forecasts-in less than one hour, no matter the amount of data. Sales forecasts are especially useful in retail and manufacturing industries to optimize inventory.
MSDN: What was the biggest challenge your company faced prior to implementing Windows Azure?
Vermorel: We developed a set of powerful statistical models that deliver highly accurate forecasts. However, those complex models require 10 times more processing power, and we couldn't keep up with our one-hour delivery goal for the forecasts. We considered adding more physical servers to handle the additional CPU requirements, but the cost was exorbitant and the process was time consuming.
MSDN: Describe the solution you built with Windows Azure to help run your powerful forecast models cost effectively?
Vermorel: Because our developers are familiar with the Microsoft .NET Framework, we were able to move our forecasting service to the Windows Azure platform and take advantage of near limitless processing power. We can deliver 100 times the forecasts with Windows Azure than we could previously-up to 100 million forecasts an hour.
MSDN: What makes your solution unique?
Vermorel: Now, we can experiment with new solutions and expand our marketing opportunities. In the future, we would like to deliver fine-grained energy consumption forecasts within smart grids to help energy companies tune electricity production and reduce losses due to over-production. Smart grids will generate a gigantic amount of data, and without Windows Azure, we would not be able to implement a solution that could scale to match production requirements.
MSDN: What are the key benefits Lokad has seen as a result of implementing Windows Azure?
Vermorel: In addition to delivering improved services to our customers, development efficiency and reduced IT maintenance costs are a huge win for us because we run lean operations with only six employees. Developers were able to use existing skills to quickly migrate the solution to Windows Azure. Also, we can rely on a Microsoft-hosted solution with enterprise-class service. We don't have to invest in costly infrastructure or redirect valuable developer resources to manage the server infrastructure that supports our forecasting solution.
Read more Windows Azure success stories here: www.windowsazure.com/evidence