DMTI Spatial wanted a cost-effective solution for its location intelligence web services, hoping to replace the Oracle software that it hosted with a third-party provider. The company re-engineered its Location Hub services for the Windows Azure platform and, as a result, reduced its hosting costs by two orders of magnitude, increased web service performance by up to six times, and improved its ability to focus on its core business. Business Needs
is a member of the Microsoft Partner Network and independent software vendor that provides location intelligence solutions to customers across Canada. Its solutions include spatial analytics, address recognition and geocoding services, and mapping software that enable business customers to use location-based data to make informed business decisions about the markets they serve.
DMTI offers Location Hub, a set of web services that allow businesses to verify and standardize addresses. Businesses can integrate the Location Hub address recognition and geocoding services into their business applications and access a database that amalgamates data from 7,000 external sources.
Previously, DMTI built these web services on Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 and used Procedural Language/Structured Query Language (PL/SQL), a procedural language for the Oracle relational database. DMTI managed the web services using several 10-gigabyte Oracle databases running on rack-mounted servers at a local, third-party hosting facility.
However, the company found that the hosted solution was expensive to maintain. In addition to rising hosting costs and expensive installations of Oracle software, DMTI had to dedicate resources to maintain the rack-mounted hardware. “The technical experts at DMTI are some of the best in our industry,” says Arthur Berrill, Vice President of Technology at DMTI Spatial. “But instead of focusing their time on building solutions, they were spending significant time maintaining infrastructure and load-balancing servers to address performance lags.”
||It is two orders of magnitude cheaper for us to host our web services on Windows Azure than with a hosting provider.
Vice President of Technology, DMTI Spatial
DMTI also had to invest capital to scale up its infrastructure as server resources neared capacity. “If we needed to add more capacity, we still had to procure the hardware and then send a team to the hosting facility to set everything up,” says Berrill. “That is an expensive and time-consuming process that we wanted to avoid.”Solution
In May 2010, DMTI Spatial re-engineered Location Hub to take advantage of .NET Framework 4 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software, especially the spatial capabilities available in SQL Server 2008. Instead of using Oracle databases, the company moved its services to the Windows Azure platform
, after evaluating several cloud service providers.
In March 2011, the company launched its new Location Hub services and had seven business customers using the Windows Azure–based services.
DMTI hosts its address recognition and geocoding web services in web roles in Windows Azure, which serves as the Microsoft cloud services development, hosting, and management environment, and is hosted in Microsoft data centers. DMTI can quickly add new instances to scale up its infrastructure. “In Windows Azure, it’s a matter of seconds to scale up,” says Berrill. “A customer can push our service to the limit, and we don’t have to worry that other customers will be affected.”
The company uses Microsoft SQL Azure to store the relational, address data that is provisioned by the web services from external data sources. DMTI then exposes the data by using Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus, which enables customers to access the data from, and integrate it with, their own applications without needing complex firewall or security infrastructure.
DMTI offers Location Hub through three different pricing options: the customer can pay on a per-transaction basis, the customer can pay a flat rate for a set number of address transactions that DMTI processes for them, or the customer can pay a flat rate for a set number of address transactions and self-serve against the DMTI database.
DMTI plans to expand its use of the Windows Azure platform. In addition to Location Hub, it intends to move some of its other applications to Windows Azure. The company also plans to use Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket to sell its data through new products and services.Benefits
As a result of moving its location-based web services to the Windows Azure platform, DMTI Spatial has reduced its hosting costs while increasing the speed at which it delivers its services. In addition, technology experts at the company can better focus on the business. Specifically, DMTI has:
Reduced costs by two orders of magnitude. By moving to Windows Azure, DMTI eliminated the need to host its web services on physical servers at a third-party hoster, as well as the cost for expensive software licenses. “It is two orders of magnitude cheaper for us to host our web services on Windows Azure than with a hosting provider,” says Berrill.
Improved service performance by up to six times. DMTI customers have noted faster performance with Location Hub since the company migrated to the Windows Azure platform. “Our services are compute-heavy, but Windows Azure handles them efficiently and has helped us speed performance by up to six times,” says Berrill. “In fact, one customer using Location Hub on Windows Azure didn’t believe, at first, that it was even working because it was so fast.“
Improved ability to focus on the business. Technology experts at DMTI no longer have to worry about load-balancing servers or other infrastructure maintenance, decreasing the company’s overhead associated with infrastructure tasks. “We take a unique approach to location intelligence compared with our competitors,” says Berrill. “With the Windows Azure platform, we don’t have to worry about maintaining servers, and we can focus on the intellectual property that differentiates us.”
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