4-page Case Study
Posted: 1/31/2012
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NewspaperDirect NewspaperDirect achieves on-demand scalability by moving to the cloud with Windows Azure

With offices in Canada, Germany and the Philippines, NewspaperDirect delivers more than 2,000 full-content digital newspapers from 95 countries to millions of readers in multiple formats: print, online, and on smartphones, tablets and eReaders. As the company continues to see exponential growth – more than one million new users launch NewspaperDirect’s application, PressReader, every month – NewspaperDirect decided to move from its high maintenance in-house server infrastructure to the cloud, with Windows Azure™.

Situation

In the competitive world of business, growth is good.

But perhaps even more important than expansion is the assurance that your business has the tools and technologies needed to sustain its success over time.

NewspaperDirect is the perfect example. With offices in Canada, Germany and the Philippines, the company delivers more than 2,000 full-content digital newspapers from 95 countries to millions of readers, and it does so in all formats: print, online, and on smartphones, tablets and eReaders. The service has seen incredible success in its 12 years in business; its key offering, PressDisplay.com, is the world’s largest online newspaper and magazine kiosk, and PressReader, its companion application, is launched by over one million new users each month.

As NewspaperDirect continued to grow exponentially, the company’s leadership decided it was important to focus on its core business and adopt a product-distribution solution that would integrate with its existing systems and applications, and scale on demand to meet their ever-increasing traffic needs.

“We are a 100-per-cent Microsoft house on the server side,” says Alex Kroogman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer of NewspaperDirect. “But our rapid growth made it no longer feasible to continue to build our own infrastructure to serve the growing traffic and users.”

After looking at a Google-based solution and deciding that it would require a significant and expensive rewriting of the company’s code, NewspaperDirect teamed up with Microsoft to take its distribution service to the cloud with Windows Azure™. Today NewspaperDirect is one of the largest users of Windows Azure in Canada.

Solution

NewspaperDirect distributes content from such well-known media outlets as The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Globe and Mail. Every issue distributed by NewspaperDirect is tens of megabytes in size – so to provide content, images, supplementary information about articles and advertisements in 51 languages for millions of users, that’s a lot of data.

The Windows Azure platform enables businesses of all sizes to build, host and quickly scale applications in Microsoft datacentres, so the NewspaperDirect team decided to move from its in-house server infrastructure to the cloud to help distribute content more efficiently and scale distribution on demand. This move would also facilitate the process of applying its Data Rights Management business logic to the content, ensuring that every user receives a slightly modified version of the publications, which, in turn, prevents content theft.

The team was immediately impressed by Windows Azure’s quick deployment time.

“We were pleasantly surprised when we were able to move to the cloud in only a couple of days,” says Kroogman. “With Windows Azure, we can take advantage of Microsoft’s cloud services platform and scale on demand, allowing us to focus on our core business.”

Benefits

NewspaperDirect is realizing a host of benefits as a result of its investment in Windows Azure, including on-demand scalability, accelerated team productivity, improved customer service and a robust technology infrastructure that supports the company’s continued growth.

On-demand Scalability

One of the biggest benefits of Azure is its scalability, and, with 400 per cent annual growth in 2011, the NewspaperDirect infrastructure can now easily grow alongside the business.

“Exponential growth poses a lot of technological issues. I suppose these are nice problems to have,” Kroogman says with a laugh. “We are so happy to partner with Microsoft and leverage the power of Windows Azure, because we can now focus on our key business strengths while running everything else through the cloud.”

Accelerated productivity

Windows Azure requires no up-front expenses, no long-term commitment, and enables companies to pay only for the resources used. After investigating Google’s service offering as well as the options around continuing to manage the infrastructure in-house, Kroogman and his team decided that “it made better business sense for us to go through the Microsoft cloud.”

Today, the Azure solution is empowering the NewspaperDirect team to be much more productive with their time.

“We had a farm of servers before, but because of our rapid growth, we continuously had to buy new equipment, add extra power and extra Internet lines, and configure everything,” says Kroogman.

“It became very time consuming,” he adds. “Our primary focus needed to be on selling and delivering products and delighting our customers. To do that we needed to focus on what we do best.”

Kroogman is confident Windows Azure will continue to be the company’s long-term solution – with the added bonus of no longer having to buy new hardware or expensive upgrades.

Improved customer experience

Although NewspaperDirect was able to maintain a high quality of service on its own for many years, the team had to continually check its Internet usage to ensure it didn’t max out its capacity.

“We no longer need to monitor during peak times of the day. Previously we were coming close to 70 per cent capacity of our Internet backbone. And since we moved to Azure, we don’t even have to check that because we’re only running at 10 to 15 per cent,” says Kroogman.

“Customers are happy about the speed of their downloads. In fact, most comments we hear are that the download speed is perfect,” he adds

For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at(800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at(800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:

www.microsoft.com

For more information about NewspaperDirect products and services, visit the website at: www.newspaperdirect.com

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview




Organization Profile
NewspaperDirect delivers the world's newspapers and magazines to millions of readers in print, online, or on their smartphone, tablet or eReader – wherever they live, travel, work or play.

Business Situation
NewspaperDirect has seen incredible success over the last 12 years, but that rapid growth made it impractical to internally manage its technology infrastructure.

Solution
The company decided to move from its high maintenance in-house server farm to the cloud with Windows Azure so it could focus on its core business and scale on demand.

Benefits
On-demand scalability Accelerated productivity Ability to focus resources on Improved customer experience

Software and Services
Microsoft Azure

Vertical Industries
Other Services

Country/Region
Canada

Languages
English

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