China-based Gridsum wanted to deliver its services to customers outside of China, but without the latency issues that global customers would face with a solution hosted only in China. Gridsum migrated its Web Dissector service to Windows Azure
and now enjoys simplified IT maintenance along with a solution that is highly available, no matter where customers are located. By expanding its business, Gridsum anticipates a 30 percent revenue boost.
Gridsum is a member of the Microsoft Partner Network and an independent software vendor based in Beijing, China, that develops search engine marketing and analytics solutions. The company serves enterprises that use websites to promote products and services.
While Gridsum traditionally serves customers in mainland China, its online business optimization services had been growing in popularity. In particular, its Web Dissector service was capturing the interest of companies in other geographies, including Europe
and the United States. Web Dissector is an online application built on Microsoft ASP.NET and the Microsoft .NET Framework. It captures users’ website behavior and tracks webpage statistics and conversion rates, and then presents the data in an easy-to-use,
web-based interface to help customers analyze the effectiveness of their online marketing initiatives.
||We expect to increase our revenue by at least 30 percent in the next year as a result of expanding our services outside of China. We could not have done that without Windows Azure.
Senior Director of Business Development, Gridsum
Gridsum wanted to meet increasing demand for Web Dissector and offer the service to customers outside of China. However, Gridsum already had to devote full-time resources to monitor its existing hosted server infrastructure, which was hosted in China on Rackspace,
and felt the burden of keeping pace with growing demand in China alone. “As we continue to grow, we have to add more servers to accommodate new customers,” says Yun Xu, Senior Director of Business Development at Gridsum. “It is increasingly more difficult
and time-consuming to manage the growing infrastructure.”
The company also knew that it needed to host its service in global data centers in order to offer its international customers the same high-performance service that it offers its customers in China. “We pride ourselves on delivering a zero-downtime network
with 24-hour availability,” says Xu. “Our services rely on compute-heavy processes, so we needed the ability to host Web Dissector in global data centers to continue delivering a highly available service. Otherwise, if a customer in the United States is retrieving
data from an infrastructure hosted in China, they will experience significant latency.”
In January 2011, Gridsum decided to move its Web Dissector service to Windows Azure, the Microsoft cloud services development, hosting, and management environment. Gridsum evaluated the cloud computing services through its participation in the Microsoft BizSpark
program, a global program that gives software startups access to the latest Microsoft products and technologies and helps connect them with key industry contacts.
In February 2011, Gridsum completed the move of Web Dissector to Windows Azure. “It only took a month to move Web Dissector to Windows Azure because of our familiarity with Windows Communication Foundation and ASP.NET,” says Xu. “We needed to modify only
a small amount of code to move to Windows Azure.”
Gridsum uses web roles in Windows Azure to host Web Dissector. The company can easily add new web roles to scale up its service and accommodate its growing number of users. “By using Windows Azure, we can quickly achieve the scalability we need,” says Xu.
“It’s just as simple as adding new web roles, and we don’t have to worry about procuring and configuring new servers.”
To better serve global customers, Gridsum uses the Windows Azure content delivery network. The company can strategically cache Web Dissector to specific Microsoft data centers, putting content closer to its customers’ locations.
Customers pay for Web Dissector based on the number of page views their websites receive in a given month. As visitors view webpages, Gridsum is able to monitor site traffic and capture usage data, which it presents to customers so that they can fine-tune
their website content to meet business goals. Gridsum did not need to change its pricing strategy or business model when it moved to Windows Azure, making the move seamless. The transition supported its business model so smoothly that Gridsum plans to move
its other services to Windows Azure in the future.
As a result of moving its online business optimization solution to Windows Azure, Gridsum has been able to simplify infrastructure maintenance, while still providing a high-performance service to global customers and increasing its revenues. Specifically, Gridsum
Gained global presence and increased revenues. By relying on Windows Azure to host Web Dissector along with other services in the future, Gridsum can serve more customers than it could with its previous hosting provider. “We expect to increase
our revenue by at least 30 percent in the next year as a result of expanding our services outside of China,” explains Xu. “We could not have done that without Windows Azure.”
Reduced latency. By using Microsoft data centers to host its service, Gridsum can now put Web Dissector closer to customers’ physical locations, no matter where they are located, and can easily expand into new geographies without sacrificing
performance. “Windows Azure gives us the ability to deliver highly available services without network latency—even to customers located outside of mainland China,” says Xu. “We’ve started expanding to Hong Kong and plan to soon serve customers in the United
States and Europe.”
Simplified IT maintenance. The company now has a full-service cloud platform and does not have to spend considerable time managing and maintaining its virtual infrastructure, as it did with Rackspace. “We
don’t have to worry about installing operating system images, upgrading software, applying updates, or configuring security and firewall settings,” explains Xu. “Windows Azure takes care of all of those issues for us, and as a result, we reduced the time spent
on IT maintenance by 30 percent and can focus on more strategic tasks, such as expanding our business.”
For more information about other Microsoft customer successes, please visit: