To gain a more scalable, reliable solution for its Ookbee e-publishing platform, IT WORKS moved it from Amazon to Windows Azure cloud services. IT WORKS now has the scalability it needs to expand its business beyond Thailand, offer new services,
and potentially grow the business by 10 times and triple revenues. IT WORKS also boosted reliability to 99.5 percent, reduced hosting fees by 30 percent, and gained assistance from Microsoft that helps its staff to be more productive.
IT WORKS is a software company in Thailand that makes a digital publishing platform for mobile devices that run the Apple iOS, Google Android, RIM Blackberry and, soon, the Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 operating systems. Magazine and book publishers
use the company’s Ookbee platform to publish, distribute, and sell digital publications through mobile marketplaces. IT WORKS has delivered more than 4 million publications on Ookbee, has more than 1.5 million subscribers, and commands 90 percent of the Thai-language
The Ookbee application includes three elements: software that publishers use to create e-publications; a mobile app that consumers use to read the publications; and server-side software that stores and runs the publications and manages the purchasing process.
When IT WORKS launched in December 2010, it hosted the server-side functions in the Amazon EC2 cloud service. However, the relationship with Amazon was purely transactional—Amazon provided servers but not much else. IT WORKS was growing and needed a cloud
vendor that could help it implement new features, such as live movie streaming, maintain the servers, and re-architect Ookbee to gain needed scalability.
To scale the Amazon service, IT WORKS had to manually increase and decrease the number of database servers, which sometimes resulted in poor performance and consumed staff resources. Growing the business would require hiring more IT staff to juggle database
Lastly, the Amazon service was unreliable. “Twice this year, the Amazon service failed for several hours,” says Natavudh Pungcharoenpong, Chief Executive Officer of IT WORKS. “On another occasion a virus caused a service interruption and lost revenue opportunity.
We wanted to expand throughout Asia and beyond and knew that such failures would be even more disastrous when more customers were at stake.”
IT WORKS wanted to partner with a cloud hosting supplier that could provide a more complete cloud solution and also technology guidance to support the company’s growth. In January 2012, the Microsoft team in Thailand introduced IT WORKS to Windows Azure,
the Microsoft cloud services development, hosting, and management environment.
||We are planning to grow our business by more than 10 times within the next two years and triple our revenues, and Windows Azure makes that possible.”
| Natavudh Pungcharoenpong
Chief Executive Officer, IT WORKS
“Microsoft looked at the larger business problems that we faced and helped us design an architecture to resolve them. We never got that from Amazon,” Pungcharoenpong says. Moving Ookbee to Windows Azure took about a week, beginning in April 2012, with a few
more weeks for testing. The Microsoft team helped optimize the architecture to the company’s needs. In May 2012, Ookbee went live on Windows Azure.
IT WORKS is using Windows Azure compute resources, Windows Azure Storage to store publications, SQL Azure to store user data, and Windows Azure Caching and Windows Azure Content Delivery Network to provide consistent performance. As the company moves into
media streaming, it will take advantage of Windows Azure Media Services.
IT WORKS is hosting nearly 1 terabyte worth of documents in Windows Azure Storage and expects that to grow to 2 terabytes within a year. Also, instead of running one big database server, as it did with Amazon, IT WORKS can run multiple smaller databases.
SQL Azure automatically scales resources depending on shifting workloads, so IT WORKS does not have to pay for database resources it is not using or manually manage them.
By migrating Ookbee to Windows Azure, IT WORKS has gained the scalability it needs to grow, could triple revenues, has improved reliability and customer satisfaction, and has reduced IT costs by 30 percent.
Improved Scalability Could Triple Revenues
By hosting its application in Windows Azure, IT WORKS can continue to expand globally. “As we expand our platform in different languages around the world, our number of users will grow dramatically,” says Pungcharoenpong. “We are planning to grow our
business by more than 10 times within the next two years and triple our revenues, and Windows Azure makes that possible.”
The company will soon offer Ookbee on Windows Phone 8 and expand into movie streaming, and both moves will further expand its market. “Our new business ventures will attract new customers and increase our database load. Moving to Windows Azure will allow
us to accommodate all this growth.”
Higher Reliability Improves Customer Experience
IT WORKS also stands to increase profits by improving service availability, which has increased from 97 percent to 99.5 percent by moving to Windows Azure. “When you have a more reliable service, you can realize more revenue—we estimate several percentage
points more—because customers have a better experience,” says Pungcharoenpong. “The better experience customers have, the more e-publications they will download and the more they will tell their friends.”
IT Costs Reduced by 30 Percent
Lastly, IT WORKS saved money by switching to Windows Azure. “We reduced our hosting fees by nearly 30 percent when we switched to Windows Azure, because we could reduce our number of database servers,” Pungcharoenpong says. IT WORKS is spending less
than 5 percent of sales on IT infrastructure, and that figure is going down every day.
IT WORKS can also make smarter use of its IT staff. “With Windows Azure, we can focus on delivering services and improving our application rather than load-balancing servers,” Pungcharoenpong says. “We have a great local Microsoft team in Thailand, which
we never had with Amazon. With their help, we have reduced our maintenance time by about 10 percent, which we can use to do other things than fix server problems.”
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