Like many a startup, MyWebCareer had big dreams, but limited means. But unlike many a startup, MyWebCareer is turning its dreams into reality, despite its constraints. The tipping point: the Windows Azure platform for cloud computing and Microsoft BizSpark program for startup success. MyWebCareer saved about U.S.$305,000 over the cost of building and running its own data center; it has scalability “on a moment’s notice;” and Windows Azure relieves MyWebCareer of its IT burden.Business Needs
When you set out to look for a new job, or even just to maximize your relationships with clients, colleagues, and managers, you need to know what others think of you, based on the information that’s most accessible to them—that is, online information. Think of it as online career brand management. Armed with that knowledge, you can begin to address weak spots in your web visibility and build a better online brand for yourself.
When you want to improve your credit rating, you start with your credit score. But when you want to improve your online brand, with what score do you start?
As far as Greg Coyle knew, there wasn’t any. But Coyle and partners Nip Zalavadia and Brian Wilson had the experience in social media, data aggregation, and analysis to change that. In January 2010, they founded MyWebCareer, a company that would make it possible for individuals to obtain comprehensive scores on their professional, personal, and social online reputations, as well as the guidance to improve those scores, enhancing their reputations.
The challenges to the vision of Coyle and his partners were significant. Their technology infrastructure would have to have massive scalability, to handle the hundreds of thousands of users a month that a successful online application would have to support. It would have to be downright inexpensive, to meet the tight resources of a startup company. And it would have to be virtually maintenance-free, to give the founders the maximum time to pursue the growth of their business.Solution
Coyle and his partners considered operating the datacenter for MyWebCareer themselves, but the potential upfront investment in hardware, software, and related costs for a datacenter wasn’t appealing. They briefly considered the Amazon EC2 cloud-computing platform, but rejected it for not being a great fit for the technology they had already decided to adopt, based on Microsoft ASP.NET.
||Windows Azure and BizSpark make the Microsoft technology platform a great, competitive alternative to traditional open source.
Cofounder and Director of Product Development, MyWebCareer
Instead, the MyWebCareer founders chose a cloud-computing platform that would interoperate well with their chosen technology base, and even provide a consistent end-to-end solution: the Windows Azure platform for cloud computing. Along with Windows Azure, MyWebCareer took advantage of the Microsoft SQL Azure data management service and Microsoft BizSpark, a global program that helps software startups by providing access to Microsoft software and tools, connecting them with key industry players, and providing marketing visibility.
MyWebCareer developed its application using the same Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 tools with which its developers were already familiar, then pushed the application to Windows Azure. The developers used SQL Azure to create three data instances in the cloud for the career, personal, and social data that the solution would process on behalf of consumers. They also created a parallel series of Windows Azure “roles” to host the distinctive business logic for each part of the solution.
When consumers go to the MyWebCareer site, they can authorize the site to access their profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to gather information for its analyses. MyWebCareer uses the data to build searches against several Internet search engines. It uses external APIs to access data on key Internet sites. A third-party service conducts and returns analyses, and a scoring engine processes the analyses to develop reputation scores in each of the three focus areas. Benefits
MyWebCareer wanted a solution that was massively scalable, low cost, and virtually management-free. That’s what it has with the Windows Azure platform.
Delivers Scalability “on a Moment’s Notice”
Coyle and his colleagues say they’re confident that Windows Azure will support their needs for the foreseeable future—and that its scalability is a benefit even today, while they’re still in beta, because it is so easy to implement.
“We can spin up resources as we need them for any of our Windows Azure roles,” says Wilson, Cofounder and Architect at MyWebCareer. “We can spin up resources on a moment’s notice to test new features, and to demo to investors or media. Given the complexity of our application and its deep interaction with third-party data and analysis sources, it wouldn’t be nearly as quick and easy to bring up new servers in a self-hosted datacenter or in a cloud environment in which we had to do our own server management.”
Reduces Cost by up to 93 Percent
MyWebCareer had budgeted U.S.$325,000 to build its own datacenter. In contrast, it expects its first-year costs with Windows Azure to be about $20,000, a savings of about 94 percent.
“Windows Azure and BizSpark make the Microsoft technology platform a great, competitive alternative to traditional open source,” says Coyle, Cofounder and Director of Product Development at MyWebCareer. “You get Windows Azure resources with BizSpark, plus access to Microsoft expertise. We got an entire suite of Microsoft development tools, even Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate, which includes load tests, unit tests, and more, all built in.”
Enables “100 Percent Focus” on Business Development
Perhaps the biggest gain to the MyWebCareer founders was the ability to focus on growing their business—not on maintaining an infrastructure.
“When you’re a startup, you’re extremely resource challenged,” says Coyle. “With Windows Azure, we can devote 100 percent of our time to business development, not just 75 percent. That’s because there’s virtually no management to do with Windows Azure—you just turn it up and it’s there. It takes the IT burden off your shoulders.”
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