Autocosmos.com is an auto shopping and information website that serves Hispanic America. It wanted to grow its business but urgently needed to increase server scalability to handle traffic spikes. The company is progressively moving its entire
business to Windows Azure to gain the scalability it needs to form new partnerships and offer cloud-based web services to car dealers. Autocosmos expects to halve its hosting costs and free the IT staff to support business growth.
Autocosmos.com is an online marketplace where people can buy, sell, and learn about cars. It provides research, news, articles, and car listings for consumers in Mexico, South America, and Hispanic buyers in the United States. Autocosmos is headquartered
in Mexico and operates in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and across South America.
The Autocosmos site has three main sections: new cars, used cars, and car news. The latter consists of a massive car information catalog and extensive editorial content. Autocosmos had always hosted its web properties in a third-party data center but constantly
had to buy and upgrade servers to accommodate business growth. In particular, Autocosmos leased space on its website to car dealers in Argentina and Mexico, where they could have their own branded microsites within the Autocosmos site. Autocosmos wanted to
grow this business across South America but was concerned about the needed investment in servers and staff.
In mid-2009, Autocosmos faced a crisis that brought the infrastructure scaling issue to the fore. It signed an agreement with with a large online media site to become a regional partner for its Auto Channel. The site placed Autocosmos news stories on its
Spanish-language home page that directed visitors to a co-branded website. This partnership was a great opportunity for Autocosmos, but the resulting traffic overwhelmed the Autocosmos servers. “Our servers were failing under the load, and our relationship
with this partner was in danger,” says Martin R. Legnoverde, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Information Officer for Autocosmos.
Ordering and provisioning new servers to relieve the traffic crush would take three or four weeks. Plus, Autocosmos did not want to buy servers to handle peaks and have the servers idle most of the time. Autocosmos had already experimented with cloud
computing: In early 2009, it used Windows Azure, the Microsoft cloud services development, hosting, and management environment, to host editorial content during internationals car shows. It also rented storage space in the Amazon S3 cloud service to store
classified ad images.
||Our web traffic can jump from 30,000 to 250,000 visitors in one day, then back to 30,000. With Windows Azure, we can instantly and automatically scale our computing resources.
| Martin R. Legnoverde
Chief Operating Officer and Chief Information Officer, Autocosmos.com
Autocosmos decided to migrate the partner’s news traffic to Windows Azure. “Amazon EC2 just provided rented servers that we had to provision and support,” Legnoverde says. “It required too much work, whereas Windows Azure was a complete platform-as-a-service
offering.” Within a week, Autocosmos had moved the news traffic from its third-party data center to Windows Azure. “The migration process was incredibly easy; with two mouse-clicks, our application was in the cloud,” Legnoverde says.
With this great success, Autocosmos decided to migrate its entire website to Windows Azure, beginning with the car news section. Autocosmos moved all the car images off of Amazon S3 and its massive car data catalog into Windows Azure. The company plans to
have the entire site migrated by 2013. Autocosmos uses Windows Azure compute roles, SQL Database, Windows Azure Storage, and the Windows Azure Content Delivery Network.
Autocosmos is also excited about using the Windows Azure Marketplace to promote its dealer microsites. The Windows Azure Marketplace is an online marketplace for publishing and purchasing Windows Azure applications. Autocosmos will provide a cloud-based
application that car dealers can use to create a website in minutes. “The Windows Azure Marketplace will give us greatly expanded exposure in selling this application to dealers across South America,” Legnoverde says.
By migrating its website to Windows Azure, Autocosmos gained the scalable performance that was necessary to solve an urgent business problem and also grow its business. It will be able to halve hosting costs and free IT staff to focus on supporting business
Instant Scalability to Accommodate New Business Opportunities
By using Windows Azure, Autocosmos can increase its services and its reach. “Our web traffic can jump from 30,000 to 250,000 visitors in one day, then back to 30,000,” Legnoverde says. “With Windows Azure, we can instantly and automatically scale our
computing resources. We can close business deals with new portal partners without thinking about the back-end infrastructure that will be needed to address the traffic. We can add hundreds of dealer microsites and grow this business without purchasing new
servers or hiring new staff.”
Without infrastructure scalability constraints, Autocosmos is thinking about offering new services that take advantage of all the auto data it owns. For example, a current online service lets consumers select two cars and create a comparison table. Autocosmos
wants to convert this service into a game for social networking sites such as Facebook, so that people can post their choices and ask their friends to help them decide which car to buy. “A service like this could go viral and overwhelm a traditional computing
infrastructure. But with Windows Azure, we will be able to handle any amount of traffic that our new-business ideas generate,” says Legnoverde.
IT Costs to Be Reduced by 50 Percent
Autocosmos expects to save money by migrating its website to Windows Azure. “When it’s time to upgrade our hosted infrastructure, we will be able to reduce hosting costs by 50 percent,” Legnoverde says.
Greater Focus on Growth and Development
Legnoverde and his staff are now heroes instead of blockers to business growth. “By using Windows Azure, we solved the news traffic problem without having to ask management for new servers, and we handled a dramatically increased traffic load without
any more staff resources,” says Legnoverde. “We can really enable business growth now. I am free to think about the business, not the infrastructure. It’s really been incredible.”
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