As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Anthony Du Preez, Founder of Tradeslot and Adslot, about how the companies use the Windows Azure technology platform for their combinatorial auction platform and the benefits that Windows Azure provides. Here's what he had to say:
MSDN: What services do Tradeslot and Adslot provide?
Du Preez: At Tradeslot, we design large-scale business-to-business and government-to-business auction platforms. Unlike other auction platforms, we have built a combinatorial auction platform that allows bidders to place expressive bids. Adslot uses the same intellectual property as the auction platform and enables media publishers to sell ad inventory.
MSDN: What was the biggest challenge Tradeslot and Adslot faced prior to implementing Windows Azure?
Du Preez: Our auctions require computation-heavy algorithms, but we didn't have the computing power needed to run conditional-bid auctions-we had to manually add constraints to auctions for customers. Add to that the fact that the hardware costs associated with setting up an auction can be a significant barrier for customers. We needed a scalable solution that could handle our computer processing needs and that would not be exorbitantly expensive for customers.
MSDN: Describe the solution you built with Windows Azure to address your need for more computing power and scalability.
Du Preez: We developed three distinct sales solutions for classified ads, display ads, and video and television ads. We use worker roles to host and scale the compute-heavy combinatorial algorithms and Web roles to host the customer-facing Web site for Adslot. To manage our application data, we're using Windows Azure Tables, Blob Storage, and Queue service.
MSDN: What makes your solution unique?
Du Preez: We are one of the first business-to-business auction providers with the technology to run large-scale combinatorial auctions with near real-time feedback and target pricing for millions of bid permutations. Other providers offer single, sealed-bid combinatorial functionality, but they don't provide any feedback-resulting in inefficient allocation and potential loss of millions of dollars to the seller. We've always had big ideas for extending our platform to other industries; with our unique solution and Windows Azure, we can reach new industries, commodities, and geographies using existing infrastructure.
MSDN: What are the key benefits you have seen as a result of implementing Windows Azure?
Du Preez: With the powerful processing capability of Windows Azure, we can set up auctions without constraints, creating highly expressive combinatorial auctions. Not only can we better meet customers' needs, but we can do it cost effectively. Instead of procuring, licensing, and configuring new servers, our customers rely on data centers hosted by Microsoft, which helps reduce capital expenditures from U.S.$60,000 to $1,000-significantly lowering the barrier for new customers and making our services more enticing.
Read more Windows Azure success stories here: www.windowsazure.com/evidence