4-page Case Study - Posted 11/17/2009
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Software Services Provider Delivers Cost-Effective E-Government Solution
Persistent Systems provides software development services that help enterprises and public sector customers enhance their offerings. One of the company’s primary offerings is an e-government solution that helps governments and agencies deliver services and interact with constituents electronically. However, the company’s ability to promote the solution was often limited by the IT infrastructure capacity of governments in developing regions. Persistent Systems needed a way to deliver its solution without requiring local governments to invest in new IT infrastructure and personnel. The company used the Windows Azure™ platform to deliver its e-governance applications on the Internet through a Microsoft® data center. Now Persistent Systems can offer its e-government solution in a high-availability environment while reducing capital and maintenance costs for itself and its customers.
Headquartered in Pune, India, and with operations in Asia, Europe, and North America, Persistent Systems provides software product development services to a wide range of customers in the telecommunications, life sciences, data infrastructure, and government sectors. With more than 4,300 employees, Persistent Systems offers services that help its customers enhance their offerings while reducing overall costs.
One of Persistent Systems’ primary offerings is an e-government solution that offers regional and local governments and agencies the ability to deliver services and interact with citizens and businesses electronically through a set of four Web-based applications that the company calls its e-governance suite. The suite forms a cohesive solution for public service, and encompasses complaint resolution, roads and infrastructure, census, and election management systems.
The Grievance Redressal System allows citizens to register and track incident reports to any government department. With the Roads and Infrastructure application, citizens can report issues related to roads and infrastructure, identifying specific locations with an online mapping tool. Registered hospitals, doctors, and other authorized personnel can use the Census Department application to register births and deaths. The Election Office application interacts with Census Department to maintain up-to-date voter lists and help authorities manage and schedule elections.
||With Windows Azure, our customers don’t have to invest up front in infrastructure or hosting services. And because they can pay as they go, their budgeting is much easier.
Senior Project Manager, Persistent Systems
Persistent Systems developed the e-governance suite using Microsoft® ASP.NET and Microsoft SQL Server® database management software, offering the separate components as client-based software applications, hosted in the customer’s own data center. However, the company found that its ability to promote its e-governance solution was often limited by the technology capabilities of local governments.
In India, many local and regional governments lack the IT infrastructure necessary to fully deploy Persistent Systems e-government applications as on-premises software solutions. Even where governments or agencies have the funding available to develop a high-performance server environment, they may lack the technology expertise to adequately manage the networking, redundancy, and other infrastructure issues that can add additional costs. Moreover, they may not want the technology capacity or expertise, needing instead to focus on delivering government services.
Persistent Systems knew that its solution would enhance those governments’ ability to provide services. The company needed a way to deliver its e-governance suite to local governments without requiring them to invest heavily in new IT infrastructure and personnel. It wanted to offer customers a way to scale the solution up or down, adding or removing component applications, computing capacity, or data storage as necessary—quickly, easily, and cost effectively.
The company wanted to provide potential customers that didn’t already have a high-performance infrastructure with a way to test the solution, and it wanted to offer them a way to pay just for what they used, as they used it. At the same time, Persistent Systems had already made a significant investment in developing its e-governance suite; it needed a new delivery model that it could develop efficiently, without having to significantly re-engineer the solution.
Persistent Systems decided to develop a solution that would host its e-governance suite on the Internet through a data centeran application delivery system sometimes referred to as “cloud” computing. The company chose the Windows Azure™ platform, an Internet-scale cloud services platform that is hosted in Microsoft data centers, for its reliable high availability and scalability to match usage needs.
Persistent Systems is using the Windows Azure cloud services operating system, the development, service hosting, and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform, to provide on-demand computing and storage capacity for its Web applications. It will use the Microsoft SQL Azure™ database as a service to store and manage application data, and application users will be able to store files and images using the Blob Storage feature in the Windows Azure platform. With Live Services, they can search for information using Bing™, and identify locations with Bing Maps for Enterprise.
In addition to the four core components of the e-governance suite, Persistent Systems will deploy its own Tenant Provisioning System (TPS) in the Windows Azure environment. With the TPS, Persistent Systems will provision specific components to individual customers (or tenant applications). Persistent Systems will deploy each tenant application on individual Windows Azure project accounts, automatically isolating each tenant application from the others, enhancing security and scalability for each tenant.
With the e-governance solution deployed on the Windows Azure platform, local governments now can pay only for the applications they need in the form of a monthly subscription, rather than investing up front in an on-premises infrastructure. Persistent Systems will use the TPS to manage auditing and billing for individual subscribers, and customers will be able to provide feedback to system administrators if they want to modify their subscription. “From the customer’s perspective, they have much more flexibility,” says Madhuri Tambe, Senior Project Manager at Persistent Systems. “As they move forward, they can easily purchase additional applications or discontinue applications they do not need.”
Persistent System uses SQL Azure to store the e-governance application database and a configuration database. Log-in details and attachments uploaded by users are stored using the Windows Azure Table Storage and Blob Storage features. The system uses the Service Bus feature in Windows Azure to connect applications within the e-governance suite and share data between applications.
Because Persistent Systems developed its original e-governance solution using ASP.NET and SQL Server, company developers were able to move the suite to the Windows Azure platform with minimum effort. For instance, developers used SQL scripts to move the existing SQL Server schema to the SQL Azure database. “Because we had worked with traditional on-premises SQL Server software, we were able to save a significant amount of time migrating the existing applications to SQL Azure,” says Padmaja Uk, Technical Lead at Persistent Systems. “We were able to minimize our learning curve and make the overall transition very smooth.”
With the Windows Azure platform, Persistent Systems can offer its e-governance applications to local governments while reducing capital expenditures for itself and its customers. Governments can quickly test and deploy the applications and scale up and down as necessary, paying only for what they need when they need it. Due to the ease of development, Persistent Systems brought its new solution-delivery model to market quickly, and can now offer its e-governance applications to more customers.
||Because we had worked with… SQL Server software, we were able to save a significant amount of time migrating the existing applications to SQL Azure. We were able to minimize our learning curve and make the overall transition very smooth.
Technical Lead, Persistent Systems
Simplified Application Deployment
By hosting its solution on the Internet through Microsoft data centers, Persistent Systems can deploy its e-governance suite to customers that don’t have their own server infrastructures, and the company can offer a hosted solution without having to set up an infrastructure of its own. Prospective customers can evaluate the solution without having to deploy the application on-premises, and Persistent Systems can provision applications to new customers approximately 50 percent faster using its new system.
“With Windows Azure, we can deploy the applications to new customers very easily, while reducing our overhead significantly,” says Tambe. “Trial runs are very easy. A customer can simply subscribe as a trial user for one month, and that’s it.”
Flexible, Cost-Effective Scalability
Because Microsoft data centers offer high availability and scalability, Persistent Systems can upgrade configurations for customers easily and quickly, adding or removing components of its e-governance solution per a customer’s need. And with the vast computing power offered through the Windows Azure platform, customers have the capability to handle varying loads without a full capital investment.
Rather than investing in server capacity for peak loads and then underutilizing that capacity during other periods, customers can pay just for the capacity they need as they need it. “For instance,” says Uk, “if an election is coming up, we can add more instances of a customer’s Election Office application, provide them more computing power, and they only have to pay for it during that period.”
Governments that subscribe to the Persistent Systems e-governance solution will be able to manage their costs more effectively by minimizing their capital investment, reducing operating costs by avoiding infrastructure-maintenance overhead, and paying only for what they use as they use it.
For a given set of features in the e-governance suite, a customer might have to spend U.S.$24,000 in capital costs and as much as $60,000 in annual maintenance overhead. With Windows Azure, it can completely forego capital and maintenance expenditures, paying only service fees that might be less than U.S.$10,000 a year.
“With Windows Azure, our customers don’t have to invest up front in infrastructure or hosting services,” says Tambe. “And because they can pay as they go, their budgeting is much easier.”
Because Persistent Systems can provision and manage the solution on the Windows Azure platform, it will increase profitability and reduce costs by as much as 70 percent as it offers its e-governance suite to more customers. “By delivering our e-governance solution through the Windows Azure platform, we will get more business from more customers,” says Tambe. “And adding, managing, and billing customers through the platform will enhance efficiency and reduce costs.”
Quick, Inexpensive Development
Because they could take advantage of existing skills, developers at Persistent Systems spent less time learning how to work with the Windows Azure platform, reducing the time it took to deploy the e-governance solution with Windows Azure. And because they did not have to configure an infrastructure to support the deployment, they could focus on the business logic and design of the applications. “Without Windows Azure, we might have spent 25 percent more time in process development,” says Tambe.
Enhanced Government Services
By subscribing to Persistent Systems e-governance solutions, local governments in India and elsewhere can provide government services and interact with constituents more effectively. They can provide convenient access to services, empower citizens with information, and enhance government transparency and accountability, while reducing costs, simplifying operations, and improving efficiency.
“The Windows Azure platform is a very viable approach to delivering eGovernance solutions for our customers and we expect good growth in business,” says Tambe.
Windows Azure Platform
The Windows Azure platform provides an excellent foundation for expanding online product and service offerings. The main components include:
- Windows Azure. Windows Azure is the development, service hosting, and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage Web applications on the Internet through Microsoft data centers. In addition, Windows Azure serves developers’ connectivity needs through the following services.
- The Service Bus connects services and applications across network boundaries to help developers build distributed applications.
- The Access Control Service provides federated, claims-based access control for REST Web services.
- Microsoft SQL Azure. Microsoft SQL Azure Microsoft SQL Azure offers the first cloud-based relational and self-managed database service built on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 technologies.
To learn more about the Windows Azure platform, visit:
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