Yellow Pages in Singapore wanted web content curator, Hyperlocalizer, to deliver their location-based listings on the Microsoft public cloud service, Windows Azure. The platform proved flexible and easy to work with: it supports the PHP and MySQL
open source software originally used to build the Hyperlocalizer product, and accommodates the products’ multiple databases and complex driver replications. With Hyperlocalizer on Azure, the web pioneer can attract more big-name customers like Yellow Pages
and target new markets.
Founded in Sydney in 2009, Hyperlocalizer is a pioneering web technologies company that enables content publishers to boost the relevance of stories and video by localizing content to align with specific audiences or users based on their interests. “Our
pioneering technology permits very rapid, automated, low-cost content republishing, which we call ‘curating’,” says Tony Surtees, Chief Executive Officer, Hyperlocalizer. “We can help publishers create multiple online spaces to cater to specific user experiences
in specific locations. We were at PRIME TV, a regional broadcaster in Australia, where we created iPrime, a series of hyper-local web sites that contain content that is specific to each local area. We dramatically increased click through rates, advertising
sell through and cross platform conversion, and audience engagement making these web sites very powerful and valuable. We created the technology to mostly automate the delivery of relevant and local content, which was spun out to become Hyperlocalizer.”
||Fortunately for us, Azure supports PHP and MySQL, the technologies we used to build Hyperlocalizer. This meant we could continue to use open source software, and deploy Hyperlocalizer in a PaaS configuration without having to rebuild
| Anurag Gupta
Vice-President, Engineering and IT, Hyperlocalizer
In the past, one of the barriers to publisher curating was the time required to create multiple versions of the same web site, and the exponential cost of hosting them. While Hyperlocalizer automated multi-site creation, customers still needed to find efficient
ways to host the product.
“In 2011, we were approached by the Singapore office of the Yellow Pages franchise. They wanted to create differentiated local listings for the 87 distinct geographies on the island,” says Surtees. “To contain web server costs and reduce operations and support
requirements, however, they insisted we adapt Hyperlocalizer to run on their preferred cloud platform, Windows Azure.”
This was the Hyperlocalizer’s first development experience with Azure, and interoperability with open source software was key. “Fortunately for us, Windows Azure supports PHP and MySQL, the technologies we used to build Hyperlocalizer,” says Anurag Gupta,
Vice-President, Engineering and IT, Hyperlocalizer. “This meant we could continue to use open source software, and deploy Hyperlocalizer in a PaaS [platform-as-a-service] configuration without having to rebuild it.”
Other challenges were more complex, and success depended on how easy the Azure platform was to work with. First, Hyperlocalizer requires multiple master-slave MySQL database instances for high availability and low response times. “Without too much trouble,
I was able to write additional .NET code that replicated these master-slave configurations in Azure, so they started up in the correct order.”
The second requirement was almost unique to web site cloud hosting. “We required 87 websites to all have access to the same drive, which required exceptionally high file-server availability. With Azure we had the flexibility to write a little extra .NET
code, to enable an Azure cloud drive to be shared automatically, creating a unique shared file structure.”
To smooth the transition, Gupta accessed several dedicated Azure resources. “The Azure blogs proved very helpful,” says Gupta. “Support from the Windows storage community helped us work out how to manage shared drives and create a shadow file server. We
also spoke to dedicated Azure support engineers who helped us configure our databases, and pointed us to other valuable resources.
”Despite the complexities inherent in Hyperlocalizer, we launched with Windows Azure two weeks ahead of schedule. The localized Yellow Pages service has excellent response times and the customer is very happy.”
Windows Azure has proved a flexible cloud platform for Hyperlocalizer’s highly complex technologies. As a result, Surtees and Gupta believe Azure will help them grow their company and expand overseas.
Expanding customer choice
Azure provides Hyperlocalizer with a new route to market. “Microsoft is constantly developing Azure to give customers more choice,” says Gupta. “Because Azure supports so many technologies, it is becoming easier for companies like ours to trial and deploy
infrastructure in the cloud.”
Delivering dependable service
Azure has also proved extremely reliable.
“We need infrastructure that just looks after itself, so we can focus on developing software,” he says. “The Azure service requires very little administrative support from Yellow Pages’ technical staff and has needed very little input from us since the launch.
We have proved that if we host with Azure, we keep our own customers happy, which will allow us to focus on growing our business.”
Powering revolutionary technologies
By radically reducing infrastructure and maintenance costs for Hyperlocalizer customers – and assisting third-party technologies like HyperLocalizer into the cloud – Surtees believes Azure has removed the biggest barriers to bottom-up, multi-segment, content
“Our next technical challenge is meeting this massive shift to mobility,” he adds. “When companies project content onto mobile devices, the power of localized content will increase dramatically. With Azure, we can readily offer customers a mobile solution
with a credible, reliable cloud partner.”
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