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A Real World Windows Azure: Interview with Eduardo Pierdant, Chief Technical Officer at OCCMundial.com

As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Eduardo Pierdant, CTO at OCCMundial.com, about using the Windows Azure platform to deliver OCCMatch and the benefits that Windows Azure…

As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Eduardo Pierdant, CTO at OCCMundial.com, about using the Windows Azure platform to deliver OCCMatch and the benefits that Windows Azure provides. Here’s what he had to say:

MSDN: Tell us about OCCMundial.com and the services you offer.

Pierdant: OCCMundial.com is the largest job-listing Web site in the Mexican employment market, providing an online link between job seekers and opportunities. OCCMundial.com has more than 15 million unique visitors annually and posts more than 600,000 jobs each year.

MSDN: What was the biggest challenge OCCMundial.com faced prior to implementing the Windows Azure platform?

Pierdant: We developed a recommendation system, called OCCMatch, that uses a powerful algorithm to match job openings to candidate resumes. In the first three months after the launch, we were matching resumes and job opportunities more than 10,000 times every day. However, OCCMatch was somewhat limited because of constraints in computing power and storage capacity. We needed to scale up in order to connect 1.5 million resumes and 80,000 jobs. In fact, we would have had to increase our existing infrastructure tenfold, and that’s simply not a cost-effective, viable option.

MSDN: Can you describe the solution you built with Windows Azure to help address your need for a powerful, scalable solution?

Pierdant: We’re using a software-plus-services model. Our Web site, which we host on-premises, is built on the Windows Server 2008 operating system, Microsoft SQL Server 2005 data management software, and the Microsoft Silverlight 2 browser plug-in. Then, we use Windows Azure computing and storage resources to run the OCCMatch algorithm. OCCMundial.com can execute millions of OCCMatch operations in parallel-with as much processing power as needed. The system compresses and uploads files to a Blob Storage container and then selects information from resumes and job listings to be processed based on specific criteria. The results are distributed and e-mail notifications are sent to job applicants and hiring managers.

MSDN: What makes your solution unique?

Pierdant: OCCMatch is one of the key differentiators for OCCMundial.com. The algorithm is the heart of the recommendation system and really sets us apart from competitors. The better we can scale up the algorithm, the better service and value we’re providing to job seekers and hiring managers.

MSDN: Have you increased your customer base since implementing OCCMatch on Windows Azure?

Pierdant: We were able to bring OCCMatch to market when conditions, such as the economy, really demanded the need for such a service. We have increased our customer base by 20 percent, but what’s equally as important is that we can provide a service in a way that no other competitor can.

MSDN: What are some of the key benefits OCCMundial.com has seen since implementing Windows Azure?

Pierdant: The ability to scale up is a critical benefit. When it was hosted on-premises at our data center, OCCMatch could compute 25,000 resumes against 20,000 job offers. Using Windows Azure, we can run OCCMatch up to three times a week and match up to 1.5 million resumes against 80,000 job offers. Plus, we achieved that impressive level of scalability without significant capital expenditures. We’re saving up to U.S.$400,000 in hardware costs, as well as a couple hundred thousand dollars for the staff that it would take to run that infrastructure.

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