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Print Company Boosts Annual Revenue by $8 Million with Cloud-Based Integration
Mimeo, a provider of online printing services, wanted a solution that could handle a heavier workload and integrate data from a new customer that wanted to submit orders using the electronic data interchange (EDI) standard. For better scalability and EDI processing capability, the company implemented a solution in the cloud based on Windows Azure BizTalk Services. As a result, the company has increased Revenues by US$8 million, gained more business opportunities, and cut integration time months to weeks.
"A solution based on Windows Azure BizTalk Services has gained us an additional $8 million in business each year. For a company that takes in $100 million in annual revenue, that’s a significant increase. This is an incredibly important system for us."
Based in New York City, Mimeo provides online, on-demand printing services through the Internet to customers worldwide. In the past, the company’s primary services included printing documents such as presentations, brochures, and catalogs. However, that changed when a Fortune Global 500 company asked Mimeo to handle business documents such as purchase orders. The jobs would be submitted using the electronic data interchange (EDI) standard, and it would increase the workload during peak periods from approximately 1,000 orders to 15,000. To take on the project, Mimeo needed to find a more scalable solution quickly.
Mimeo also wanted to simplify integration. Its EDI customers, called trading partners, worked with a variety of data formats and technologies. As a result, Mimeo developers needed to build a separate integration interface for each new client. Eventually, a full-time developer was required to maintain a dozen individual interfaces.
To solve these challenges, the company looked at solutions such as IBM Gentran Integration, but it concluded that the product would be too time-consuming to implement and difficult to manage.
In addition to its scalability and integration requirements, Mimeo needed a solution that it could deploy quickly with minimal investment in infrastructure. “We anticipated that with this new contract, 90 percent of our revenue would come in over a 30-day period,” says Mike Barker, Vice President of IT at Mimeo. “I didn’t want to buy all the additional bandwidth, servers, and storage that we’d need for that short time frame.”
Mimeo turned to Microsoft partner Nimbo, a specialist in integration and cloud computing, to help design a new solution. Nimbo recommended using the Windows Azure platform and Windows Azure BizTalk Services for cloud-based EDI processing. The solution would provide a flexible, highly scalable integration platform capable of converting large volumes of data from virtually any application, including enterprise resource planning systems, into the XML format used by Mimeo.
Mimeo and Nimbo began implementing the solution in May 2012. First, the team created a standard integration interface that mapped EDI documents to XML. Next, Mimeo began a series of rigorous tests that included a load that successfully ran 20,000 orders in 12 hours. The company went live with the solution three months later, and it began processing its first EDI orders in August 2012.
The solution is highly reliable as well as scalable. Mimeo runs BizTalk Services in geographically disparate Microsoft data centers, which ensures continuous operations and availability. In addition, the extended global reach helps Mimeo route orders more easily between regions.
Mimeo uses the Windows Azure Service Bus, a messaging framework, to connect the Windows Azure BizTalk Services layer to the company’s on-premises printing service. Mimeo uses a similarly streamlined process to integrate new trading partners, which can then easily submit their orders through a web-based portal.
With a solution based on Windows Azure BizTalk Services, Mimeo has gained multiple benefits including increased Revenues, more business opportunities, and faster integration of new customers.
Increased Annual Revenues by $8 Million
By using cloud-based services to handle EDI orders, Mimeo has increased its annual revenue significantly with just one major contract. “A cloud-based integration solution based on Windows Azure BizTalk Services has gained us an additional $8 million in business each year,” says Barker. “For a company that takes in $100 million in annual revenue, that’s a significant increase. This is an incredibly important system for us.”
Creates More Business Opportunities
The company looks forward to more business opportunities. In addition to its increased global reach and scalability, Mimeo can also work more easily with a wider array of technologies and data formats. “Our EDI trading partners appreciate that we’re reliable and that they can connect to our service without modifying their existing systems,” says Barker. “And by increasing our ability to handle peak fluctuations with ease, we’re seeing more non-peak orders as well. The Windows Azure platform is helping us get a bigger piece of the pie.”
Cuts Integration Time from Months to Weeks
With a standardized integration solution based on Windows Azure BizTalk Services, Mimeo can bring new customers on board faster. “In the past, it could take months to integrate new customers,” says Barker. “With a standard interface based on Windows Azure BizTalk Services, it now takes just weeks.”
Barker points out that easier integration gives Mimeo developers more time to enhance the company’s core services. “There are certain things that give a company like ours value, and building integration layers is not one of them,” he says. “By taking advantage of Windows Azure BizTalk Services, we can focus our development team on projects that do give Mimeo value. We’re looking forward to moving more of our capabilities onto Windows Azure.”
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