A Ukranian web developer, ABP, launched avto.pro, an automobile parts trade portal that attracted more than 4,100 dealers and 20,000 unique visitors a day. Soon after, the site became so successful that the company had to cease marketing activities
and find a cost-effective, scalable cloud services solution. It migrated avto.pro to Windows Azure Cloud Services and now benefits from a 30 percent cost-savings, increased scalability, and improved security.
In August 2011, ABP—a web development firm and a member of the Microsoft Partner Network—launched avto.pro, a Ukraine-based trade portal for automobile parts and components. People use the site to search for, purchase, and sell car parts without intermediaries.
More than 4,100 wholesale parts dealers participate on the website, which features more than 37 million products and gets 20,000 unique visitors every week day.
“When we first launched avto.pro, we didn’t know how successful it would become,” says Evgeny Alyanchikov, Chief Executive Officer at ABP. “Because it was unique and featured a rich database with substantial information about the cars and parts, it got a
lot of interest and visits. Once we realized that we could grow 100 times bigger, we had to stop and think about how we could scale.”
The avto.pro solution was hosted on two on-premises servers at a data center in Odessa, Ukraine. In December 2011, a fire at the data center interrupted service for more than three days; the damage to the server took more than a month to fix. At the same
time, the servers reached maximum capacity: ABP could not support new functionality and ceased marketing activities. Alyanchikov says, “It was obvious that only a cloud-hosting solution could support the increasing workload.”
||By architecting avto.pro with Windows Azure, we have the opportunity to increase capacity and scalability while cutting costs by 30 percent. I know of no other cloud service that offers that same advantage.
|| Eugene Alyanchikov
Chief Executive Officer, ABP
ABP looked into a variety of cloud services providers, including Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute, which lacked support technicians in Ukraine. The company chose to deliver the avto.pro solution by using Windows Azure Cloud Services capabilities to host,
scale, and manage compute power on the Internet through Microsoft data centers. “Microsoft has offices in Ukraine, and it provided us with technical support from an experienced architect, comprehensive information on product characteristics, and complimentary
technology trainings, all of which were extremely important to us as developers,” says Alyanchikov. “Plus, Windows Azure is business-focused, and its pricing model was advantageous to us compared to other providers.”
In December 2011, ABP began migrating avto.pro to Windows Azure. It used the Microsoft ASP.NET 4.0 application framework to develop the solution as a dynamic, scalable cloud-based web application. For the customer-facing website, it employs a web role, a
cloud service role that provides an operating environment for running web applications supported by Internet Information Services 7.0, an easy-to-manage web server for hosting applications. To upload dealers’ price lists into Windows Azure Table service—a
data management service that stores large amounts of structured, non-relational data—ABP uses a worker role, a cloud service role that runs background application workloads and analyzes transactional information.
The company uses Microsoft SQL Azure Database data management service to store relational data including specifications about spare parts, user metadata, and financial information. The table data in this multitenanted database grows as the number of sellers
and listings increases. ABP stores images (for example, photographs of parts) and other static content in Windows Azure Blob service, a data management service for storing large amounts of unstructured text or binary content. Blob content is available through
the Content Delivery Network, the Windows Azure caching service that stores data at strategically placed geographic locations to provide maximum bandwidth for delivering content. Users authenticate to the website through Access Control, a service that provides
federated authentication and rules-driven, claims-based authorization.
In May 2012, the avto.pro cloud services solution went live. “This solution would have been impossible to implement without Windows Azure cloud services,” says Alyanchikov. “Microsoft accomplished approximately 70 percent of the development work—the scalability
part—and we got frequent and fast consultations from the Microsoft support team, which was very encouraging and motivating.”
By using Windows Azure for its avto.pro solution, ABP can scale its service quickly and cost-effectively while operating in a highly secure environment in which it is easy to implement new functionality. “Cloud technology is the technology of the future,
and Windows Azure is in the world leader,” says Alyanchikov. “Once you start working with Microsoft cloud services, it’s easy to imagine the possibilities.”
With Windows Azure, ABP not only avoids the costs of purchasing, licensing, and managing on-premises servers, but it also realizes cost-savings relative to other cloud solution providers. “If you architect a Windows Azure solution correctly, you can fit 100
programmatic constructions into the price of one transaction,” says Alyanchikov. “This is a substantial price savings.”
On evenings and weekends, ABP can automatically reduce compute instances. “Traffic fluctuations are inherent in this solution, and by architecting avto.pro with Windows Azure, we have the opportunity to increase capacity and scalability while cutting costs
by 30 percent,” says Alyanchikov. “I know of no other cloud services that offer that same advantage.”
ABP reports that if avto.pro traffic grows 1,000 times—increasing the number of compute instances from two to ten—the price of cloud services would go from US$440 a month to only $1,500 a month. “The avto.pro cloud services solution can easily scale to meet
demand in new markets beyond Ukraine,” says Alyanchikov. “We intend to expand into Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus—and localize the solution for English-speaking markets.”
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ABP believes that hosting its solution in Microsoft data centers is much more secure than using local data centers. “Local providers can be unreliable,” says Alyanchikov. “Microsoft is trustworthy and provides a high level of security that helps protect us
against malicious software and hacker attacks.”