Internet firm GPC Sp. z o.o. decided to launch an electronic business card exchange for customers around the world. To develop and maintain the solution—called nioovo—GPC and IT partner Transparencia Sp. z o.o. chose the Windows Azure platform. As a small company with limited IT resources, GPC expects to benefit from nearly limitless capacity and scalability, no upfront infrastructure costs, worldwide customer reach, and enhanced security.
In 2009, innovative Internet company GPC Sp. z o.o. was launched in response to increasing demand for an easy way to update and share personal and business contact data.
According to a study conducted by GPC in July 2010, the average paper-based address book contains 137 entries, while electronic versions average 161 entries. Only 4.7 percent of those entries contain complete contact information. The study concluded that the primary reason for incomplete contact data is the time-consuming, manual nature of entering and updating information.
To address these challenges, GPC enlisted the services of Transparencia Sp. z o.o.—a member of the Microsoft Partner Network—to create and maintain a global web portal that customers could use to update their contact information and then automatically share those updates with family, friends, and colleagues. The company wanted to provide customers with access to their information at any time and from anywhere, with high availability across all markets. “A truly global service should work just as well in Poland, Germany, and the United States, as in India, China, and New Zealand,” explains Grzegorz Skowron-Moszkowicz, President of the Board at Transparencia Sp. z o.o.
The company also recognized the importance of securing customer data. “Customer doubts about security measures or a successful attack by malicious users could ruin the development plans of the company,” Skowron-Moszkowicz adds.
||We chose Windows Azure because it is the only solution that we trust to provide fast, reliable, and highly secure operation of our global web portal, at costs that even small companies can afford.
President of the Board, Transparencia Sp. z o.o.
Transparencia projected that during the first 12 months of activity, the website would need the agility to handle up to 10 million visitors. As a small startup company, GPC realized that it could not afford to purchase and maintain the amount of IT infrastructure that this volume of website traffic would require. “From the very beginning, we knew that building our own infrastructure and appointing our own team to manage it was a dead end,” says Skowron-Moszkowicz. “That's why we started looking for more innovative solutions.”Solution
In June 2010, GPC obtained funding through Measure 8.1 of Operational Program Innovative Economy, an initiative sponsored by the Polish Ministry of Regional Development that promotes the advancement of the Polish economy on the basis of innovative enterprises. GPC also established strategic relationships with Microsoft and mobile telecommunications provider Orange Polska. Orange provides mobile phone service to more than 14 million customers in Poland.
To develop and maintain the web portal—called “nioovo”—Transparencia recommended a cloud-based solution. After considering solutions from Google and Amazon, GPC selected the Windows Azure platform. “At first we thought that none of the available solutions could fulfill our availability, capacity, cost, and security requirements,” says Skowron-Moszkowicz. “But after taking a closer look at Microsoft cloud services, we discovered that Windows Azure perfectly fits our needs. We chose Windows Azure because it is the only solution that we trust to provide fast, reliable, and highly secure operation of our global web portal, at costs that even small companies can afford.”
By using Windows Azure, Transparencia can invest resources into website development rather than purchasing hardware or hiring additional resources to maintain the infrastructure—Windows Azure provides on-demand compute, storage, networking, and content delivery capabilities through Microsoft data centers.
“Windows Azure is a perfect tool for creating IT solutions,” Skowron-Moszkowicz says. “Developers can use the offline development environment to simulate the Windows Azure cloud on their PCs and test applications before they’re deployed. Plus, Windows Azure offers unlimited scalability, great efficiency, and enormous storage space.”
After six months of development, GPC and Transparencia launched the nioovo web portal. The interface—accessible through the Internet and 120 different mobile devices supported by Orange—is currently available in eight languages and contact data is compatible with 138 languages. “Now customers click through four simple steps on the web portal—which takes less than one minute—and their complete and updated information automatically reaches the people they want to be in touch with,” explains Skowron-Moszkowicz.Benefits
By using Windows Azure, GPC gains the following benefits:
Simplified, nearly limitless capacity and scalability. By using Windows Azure, Transparencia can add and remove capacity—on demand—in minutes. The company uses this agility to support planned increases in customers—from zero to 10 million in the first year, for example—as well as periodic increases in the web portal’s popularity as a result of special offers or promotions. “This kind of agility and scalability would simply not be possible with a traditional IT solution,” Skowron-Moszkowicz says. “For GPC—a young Internet company with ambitious plans for the nioovo web portal—unlimited scalability is crucial to its success.”
No upfront IT infrastructure costs. With a traditional on-premises solution, assembling and maintaining a proper infrastructure would have been an insurmountable barrier for GPC, even with government funding and strategic partnerships. By using cloud services, GPC avoids infrastructure and maintenance costs and has a spectrum of pricing options from which to choose. “We carefully monitor usage to determine the best pricing model,” says Skowron-Moszkowicz. “At first, we decided to use the pay-as-you-go model—low load meant lower costs. As we increase our load, fixed monthly payments may turn out to be more cost-effective. As our needs change, so do our pricing options.”
- Optimized operation for worldwide reach. Customers from all over the world have the same experience when using nioovo, regardless of their location. “The global network of Microsoft data centers ensures high availability and virtually guarantees that there are no delays or problems with efficiency,” Skowron-Moszkowicz explains. "Feedback is very positive—customers from the United States, Guatemala, and New Zealand confirmed that the web portal opens instantly.”
Multiple layers of security. Thanks to its relationship with Microsoft, GPC has confidence in the expertise of the highly qualified specialists who manage Microsoft data centers. “Because we’ve built nioovo using Windows Azure, we can offer customers a proper level of security, which is very important for the company’s success,” says Skowron-Moszkowicz. “It's good that we don't have to worry about security, since we already have a lot of responsibilities.”
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