AtmanCo is a leader in personality testing, which helps firms place the right person in the right job. To expand its business, AtmanCo decided to host its web-based product in Windows Azure, which gives the company a global market reach, vast
scalability, and higher availability. With the move to Windows Azure, AtmanCo expects to increase revenues significantly, reduce IT costs by as much as US$60,000 a year, and reduce downtime.
“Employees in the right positions = happy employees = business happiness”: that’s the AtmanCo philosophy. To support executives and managers in selecting qualified personnel, AtmanCo created the Atman personality test, a psychometric test that explores
the innate aspects of a personality as well as an individual’s motivational factors, attitudes, and values. AtmanCo has been serving customers across Canada since 2003 and employs 13 people.
AtmanCo offers its tests online, originally from its website running on an on-premises server in its Montreal office and later from the data center of a local hosting services provider. However, as the company grew, and the field of personality testing took
off and spawned dozens of competitors, AtmanCo needed a more scalable infrastructure that could accommodate more and bigger customers. “We were getting requests from organizations to deliver 5,000 or 10,000 tests at a time, but we had to turn down this business
because it was too expensive to set up the technology infrastructure needed to handle it,” says Stephane Poirier, Vice President of Business Development and Technology for AtmanCo.
AtmanCo also saw opportunities to expand internationally, specifically into France, which was a natural fit for the French Canadian firm. However, potential customers there could not sign up for AtmanCo services because of French regulations that required
testing data to be stored in European data centers. AtmanCo would have to lease servers in France and manage those servers from 3,000 miles and multiple time zones away.
Even though it outsourced its servers, AtmanCo still had to manage them and was saddled with high IT management costs and availability worries. “If a server failed, we had to return it to service as quickly as possible,” Poirier says. “Even planned maintenance,
such as monthly updates to our product, required downtime, which was an inconvenience to customers.”
From his previous job, Poirier was familiar with Windows Azure, a cloud platform that provides on-demand compute, storage, content delivery, and networking capabilities from Microsoft data centers. He thought that a cloud solution like Windows Azure
was the answer to AtmanCo’s business expansion, scalability, and IT management challenges.
||Over the past year, we have doubled our revenues. With the global reach that Windows Azure gives us, we expect to continue to increase our revenues at a very fast pace.
| Stephane Poirier
Vice President of Business Development and Technology, AtmanCo
“Although I came from a Microsoft background, we looked at Amazon and Google cloud offerings as well,” Poirier says. “We had watched Windows Azure evolve and improve in both functionality and pricing. The credibility of the Microsoft name was another factor;
Microsoft is better known in the business world than Google and Amazon, which are often perceived as consumer companies. Plus, we would have a huge technical team behind us in Microsoft.”
AtmanCo first migrated its application to a North American Microsoft data center. Later, as demand increased overseas, it took AtmanCo less than 48 hours to deploy its application in a Microsoft European data center, which enables AtmanCo to serve customers
on both continents. As it grows globally, AtmanCo can run its application from other Microsoft data centers and even select the data center best able to deliver optimal performance to customers.
AtmanCo uses Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Web Sites to host its application, and Windows Azure SQL Database and Blob Storage to store test results. It also creates virtual machines to host product demos on demand. When the demo is complete, AtmanCo
releases those resources.
By running its web-based product from Windows Azure, AtmanCo is able to expand its business and significantly increase revenues. It also reduces IT costs and offers greatly improved uptime guarantees.
Compete Globally and Expand Revenues
The ability to present a scalable, enterprise-class IT infrastructure is a big competitive advantage for AtmanCo, because most of its competitors are much larger firms. “When we tell customers that our solution runs in a Microsoft data center, it’s a
big selling point because of the Microsoft reputation for safety and security,” says Cindy Boisvert, Communications and Marketing Officer for AtmanCo. “Also, with our product running in Windows Azure, we can market to the entire world without opening offices
all over the world or significantly expanding our staff.”
With a whole world of opportunity now available to it, AtmanCo is preparing for customer and revenue growth. “Over the past year, we have doubled our revenues. With the global reach that Windows Azure gives us, we expect to continue to increase our revenues
at a very fast pace,” Poirier says. “We’re also able to accept business that we previously had to turn away because of infrastructure constraints. These ‘lost opportunity’ revenues can amount to a few hundred thousand dollars a year.
“When a customer comes to us with a need for 10,000 tests, we can scale Windows Azure compute and storage resources with a few mouse clicks and immediately accommodate the business very affordably,” Poirier continues. “If we hadn’t moved to Windows Azure,
the business growth that we are currently experiencing would have swamped our server infrastructure. But thanks to Windows Azure, we are growing rapidly, and we’re able to compete against the biggest companies out there.”
Reduce IT Costs by as Much as $60,000 a Year
Not only is AtmanCo making more money by hosting its product in Windows Azure, but the company also is saving money. Poirier estimates that AtmanCo has reduced its IT infrastructure and management costs by as much as US$5,000 a month by eliminating IT
supplier and partner fees and not having to hire a network administrator. By lowering operational costs, AtmanCo improves its profit margins.
Improve Service Continuity
AtmanCo has reduced risk by switching to Windows Azure, because Microsoft provides service level agreement guarantees for its data centers, which is something that AtmanCo could not provide customers when it was hosting its own infrastructure. “By switching
to Windows Azure, we’ve significantly reduced our planned and unplanned downtime,” Poirier says. “We no longer have to interrupt our service to perform monthly updates, which makes our service continuously available. This is a huge convenience to our customers
and a savings for us.”
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