2-page Partner Case Study
Posted: 7/5/2012
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Techila High Performance Computing ISV Switches from Amazon, Adds $328,000 in Revenue

Because its flagship solution required installing and supporting servers at customer sites, it was difficult for Techila to increase business overseas. The company initially migrated its solution to Amazon EC2, but later chose to host it on Windows Azure. Now, with sales support from Microsoft, Techila has shortened its sales cycle by 70 percent, and expects to add 20 new customers in the next two months—while gaining US$328,000 in revenue. 

Business Needs
Techila is an independent software vendor (ISV) based in Tampere, Finland. Its Techila middleware solution enables organizations that run computationally intensive applications to access high-performance computing capabilities—without investing in new hardware.

“There’s a growing need for heavy computation in the world of scientific research, and in industries like financial services, where companies use large data sets to perform statistical modeling,” says Rainer Wehkamp, Chief Executive Officer at Techila. “With Techila, these organizations can set up their own private high-performance computing environment in minutes, using existing infrastructure.”

The Techila solution is based on Java technology. Server components were originally developed to run on the Linux operating system and the application used PostgreSQL, an open-source relational database system. When the company first started selling the Techila solution, it provided customers with a physical server that had the solution preinstalled. Customers purchased a perpetual license for use of the service on up to 500 CPU cores, and paid an annual fee for technical support.

Executives were eager to expand the business, particularly to overseas markets. However, they encountered several obstacles to growth. For example, regulatory hurdles prevented shipping server hardware to customers outside of Finland. “We also found that, in general, organizations weren’t able to predict the level of scalability that they needed, so we had to put a substantial amount of time into deployment planning and support for each individual customer,” says Wehkamp.

Finally, Wehkamp noted that an increasing number of organizations were adopting data center virtualization. “Techila middleware was built to harness CPU power from on-premises infrastructure, so when customers reduced the number of servers they had on-site, it undermined the resilience and scalability of our solution,” says Wehkamp.

Solution
To better meet customer needs for dynamically scalable computational resources and support the company’s geographic expansion goals, Techila executives evaluated delivering the solution as a cloud-hosted offering. Executives initially chose to use the Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) service. Techila still provided customers with a Linux-based appliance, which it linked to server instances in Amazon data centers to provide additional capacity when needed.

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* We’re a small company, but through the scalability and reliability of Windows Azure, together with sales assistance from Microsoft, we can engage and support customers anywhere in the world. *

Rainer Wehkamp
Chief Executive Officer, Techila

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But the company ultimately decided to move the service to Windows Azure, the Microsoft cloud services deployment, hosting, and management environment. “After doing some research, we discovered that most of our customers who needed high-performance computing used PCs and servers that ran the Windows operating system, rather than Linux. Also, Microsoft showed much more enthusiasm for working with us to support our growth outside of Finland,” says Wehkamp.

In early 2011, the company sought guidance from the Windows Azure Acceleration Program on how to transition its solution. Techila used the Windows Azure Software Development Kit (SDK) for Java to modify its application for use with the Microsoft cloud platform. It also migrated PostgreSQL database components to SQL Database, a fully managed cloud-based service built on Microsoft SQL Server technology.

As a function of moving its service to Windows Azure, the company has adapted its sales methodology. It now routinely offers prospective customers the chance to test the service in their own environment. And instead of basing pricing on a perpetual license, the company uses a subscription model. Techila is also participating in joint sales activities with Microsoft in Europe and the United States. For select engagements, universities in these areas gain complimentary access to the solution in exchange for signing an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft that includes Windows Azure.

Benefits
By using Windows Azure, Techila is experiencing the following benefits:

Gains 20 new customers with joint sales support from Microsoft. Another factor that helps Techila increase sales conversions and expand its reach to international markets is its strategic alignment with Microsoft. Through an agreement between the two companies, Techila gains a percentage of each joint sale of Windows Azure and the solution. And the Finland-based ISV benefits from the global account management resources that Microsoft provides. “We’re a small company, but through the scalability and reliability of Windows Azure, together with sales assistance from Microsoft, we can engage and support customers anywhere in the world,” says Wehkamp. “In the next two months, we expect to add 20 new university customers in the European market alone.”

Closes sales cycle 70 percent faster. Because prospective customers can now easily test the Techila solution in their own environment, Techila benefits from a significantly shorter sales cycle. “We can setup a trial account in 20 minutes, which helps accelerate the purchase decision process,” says Wehkamp. “To enable that same simulated experience before was a much more manual process that involved configuring hardware. And, more importantly, before using Windows Azure, we had to deliver servers to customer locations, which cost time and money, and limited our geographic reach.” Before moving its solution Windows Azure, the company’s sales process took, on average, six months to complete. Now, Techila can close deals in as few as six weeks, fully 70 percent faster. Based on sales models for the second half of calendar year 2012, Wehkamp projects revenue from new customer engagements of EUR€250,000 (US$328,000)

Expands internationally and scales rapidly. Because Techila has been able to streamline its sales process, the company can be more responsive to new customer opportunities around the world. Techila also knows that it can use Windows Azure to quickly configure and deploy its middleware solution to meet customer requirements, scale the service at a moment’s notice, and maintain it with ease. “With Techila running on Windows Azure, our overhead costs for deployment and support are minimal,” says Wehkamp. “Now, we can concentrate less on technology and invest more in selling our product.”

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Solution Overview



Organization Size: 10 employees

Partner Profile

Techila develops software solutions that enable high performance computing without the need for major capital investments.


Software and Services
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Microsoft SQL Azure

Vertical Industries
Architecture, Engineering & Construction

Country/Region
Finland

Business Need
Cloud & Server Platform

IT Issue
  • Development
  • Cloud Services
  • Interoperability

Languages
English

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