“Azure Table service provides a low maintenance, hugely scalable structured data store for Birdsong that just works.”
Cain Ullah, Founder, Red BadgerUnited Kingdom (U.K.) creative software consultancy Red Badger wanted to provide push notifications to users of its Birdsong for Windows Phone Twitter client. Birdsong is a popular social networking application on Windows Phone 7, used in 32 countries. Windows Azure provides a low maintenance platform as a service (PaaS) infrastructure for Birdsong, so Red Badger can scale up to meet demand as its user base grows, without requiring additional capital investment.
Founded in 2010 and based in London, Red Badger is a creative software consultancy that specialises in customised software projects, developer tools, and platforms on Microsoft technologies. Its founders have years of experience developing desktop, web, and mobile applications—and, in recent years, using 3-D gaming technology.
Red Badger is a Microsoft BizSpark partner—a global programme that helps
software startups succeed by giving them
early and cost-effective access to Microsoft
software development tools. BizSpark
connects its partners with key industry players, including investors, and provides marketing visibility to help software entrepreneurs to start businesses.
Supported by BizSpark, Red Badger has developed a premium Twitter social networking client called Birdsong for Windows Phone.
Cain Ullah, Founder, Red Badger, says: “Birdsong is already an enormously popular social application on the Windows Phone 7 platform and the number one application of its kind in 10 countries.” Part of the appeal of Birdsong is its innovative features such as infinite scrolling and offline viewing, which are powered by a customised document database.
Ullah adds: “Support for push notifications—for example, Live Tile and Toast—has been one of the most requested features from Birdsong users. With thousands of people monitoring their accounts for mentions and direct messages, timely notifications presented a huge challenge.”
Red Badger needed a service for Birdsong that would allow developers to manage increased demand. Ullah says: “It was impossible to predict how popular it would become or how rapidly it would require greater compute power.”Solution
Red Badger decided to use the Windows Azure cloud-based delivery system to support a push notification capability to Birdsong version 1.3. It developed the tool in the Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 development system.
Rackspace Hosting was a possible alternative hosting partner, but multiple technical advantages favoured Windows Azure, together with a potential time to market of three to six months.
The architecture uses the Windows Azure load balancer, which distributes incoming internet traffic for users transparently. Birdsong also uses the Windows Azure Queue and Table service features to retain a user’s notification preferences. Live Tile images are created dynamically with the unread tweets counted and downloaded via the Microsoft Push Notification Services in Windows Phone 7.
In addition, the Windows Azure Queue feature queues an unlimited number of messages in receipt order.
Red Badger used Windows Azure to ensure that the performance of its Birdsong for Windows Phone Twitter client would not be affected by large increases in demand. The Microsoft BizSpark programme helped the startup launch the application, and provided easy access to the tools and technology Red Badger are using giving subscribers several unique features, with more to come.
Windows Azure helps ensure reliable storage for subscribers. Windows Azure offers unlimited space for Birdsong users to store messages—this is a key requirement for the company remaining competitive. Ullah says: “Azure Table service provides a low maintenance, hugely scalable structured data store for Birdsong that just works.”
Flexibility in processing secures data. With Windows Azure, Red Badger can choose to scale up with roles or processes inside roles. Wynne says: “As a result, we have the confidence that no data will be lost and that the service function will remain the same whatever the demand.”
Scalability helps avoid need for further capital investment. The scalability of Birdsong running on Windows Azure means that Red Badger can accommodate expansion to another 19 countries. “We pay hour by hour and have a whole range of Microsoft cloud infrastructure and scale available to us at the click of a mouse,” says Ullah.
Birdsong aims for new-generation Windows Phone 7 Mango. Ullah and his team will use their experience in the Microsoft .NET Framework and Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in to work on a new release of Birdsong for Windows Phone 7 Mango. Ullah says: “We’re keeping a few features to ourselves for now and are committed to the Windows Phone roadmap.”This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.