September 5, 2012 was just another Wednesday in Costa Rica until a natural disaster struck violently and without warning. At 8:42 a.m., a 7.6 magnitude earthquake wreaked widespread havoc on this picturesque Central American nation of 4.3 million, severely
damaging buildings and infrastructure, and claiming the lives of two people. Teletica, the Costa Rican communications conglomerate that owns and operates one of the country’s oldest and most popular television stations, became a key information resource as
a dazed nation confronted the aftermath of the disaster.
Just minutes after the earthquake struck, the station’s web outlet, Teletica.com, received over three times its normal traffic due to people within and outside of the country seeking information on what happened to the nation, their loved ones, and their
"We quickly realized that we were overwhelmed by user traffic and that we were unable to inform or interact with those seeking information,” said Luis Zarnowski, Interactive Media Manager at Teletica. “Prior to the quake, Teletica.com averaged about 32,000
daily visitors, but within minutes of the catastrophe, we had over 100,000 users and the site went down.”
Despite efforts by its in-house IT staff to apply quick fixes and code changes to bring the website back up, Teletica’s engineers were unsuccessful. “We couldn’t report breaking news, much less interact with our users, and we needed an immediate solution,”
said Zarnowski. “That’s when we called Microsoft.”
Microsoft Windows Azure quickly was recognized as the ideal solution to bring Teletica.com back online. Windows Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables users to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed
datacenters. Applications can be built using any language, tool or framework.
Teletica decided that an interactive map for Costa Ricans to upload photos and real-time information about what was happening across the country was critical for the site. But how would Teletica host and deploy such a tool, when they intended to build it
with open source technology? As requirements were quickly defined, scalability, interoperability, and the ability to stream webcasts were paramount, so the Windows Azure platform was a clear choice.
“We called Microsoft to see if our users would be able to easily upload pictures, video, and commentary from different areas of the country using a mash up with Google maps, and the answer was a resounding yes,” said Zarnowski. “By using the Windows Azure
platform, not only were we able to reliably host our website with its high volume traffic, we were also able to deploy the application our users so desperately needed in about 45 minutes.”
“In the specific case of the earthquake in Costa Rica, the relationship we had already set up with Teletica gave us a very good reaction time, because within minutes, we were able to put the services in place that they wanted to launch for their readers,
using a cloud platform,” said Yuri Porras, Director of New Technology, Microsoft Costa Rica. “The idea of interoperability was a fundamental factor here because the applications they had were open source, but that was no obstacle for us. We were able to react
very quickly and put this service at the clients’ disposal using Windows Azure technology,” Porras added.
For Teletica, Microsoft Windows Azure was the best platform for the rapid development and deployment of its interactive map application.
Once its hybrid application was deployed on the Windows Azure platform, Teletica was able to easily change its “Instance Count” while almost effortlessly scaling its web services to meet any level of demand. The virtually unlimited cloud-based storage capacity
of Windows Azure also meant that Teletica’s users could upload all of the pictures, video and text they wanted with no negative ramifications.
Through its rapid deployment of the interactive map application running on Microsoft Windows Azure, Teletica set a global benchmark for news reporting in a time of crisis. People within and outside of Costa Rica used the application to efficiently report
and monitor ongoing disaster-oriented events in real time.
Teletica’s post-earthquake experience became a powerful reaffirmation of the importance of having a trusted web technology partner like Microsoft, with experience in cloud services.
“The earthquake showed us that we needed the infrastructure to react quickly to events,” said Zarnowski. “With Windows Azure, we now have the ability to expand capacity quickly and to add servers according to user demands. In a time of crisis, Azure allowed
us to efficiently accomodate the sudden upsurge in traffic we experienced, and it allowed us to host the open source application we required.”
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To learn more about Teletica, visit www.teletica.com