Microsoft Partner Network member ODC, in Istanbul, Turkey, creates messaging products that companies use to successfully market to customers and connect with employees. To better meet increases in demand that strain hosting servers, ODC created
its new product SmartMessage Lite by using Windows Azure, which helped improve scalability, increase availability, and provide a smart solution for small and midsize customers.
Based in Istanbul, Turkey, ODC is a member of the Microsoft Partner Network with Gold competencies. ODC is an IT business and technology consultancy with more than 50 employees, and it has offices in Istanbul, Dubai, and Baku, Azerbaijan. ODC was founded
in 2005 with the launch of its flagship products SmartMessage and SmartMessage On-Demand, and the company currently has more than 800 enterprise customers in a variety of industries, including banking, insurance, automotive, and telecommunications.
SmartMessage and SmartMessage On-Demand are e-marketing and campaign management platforms that companies use to communicate with customers and employees through mass distribution of email, short message service (SMS) messages, and other electronic formats.
SmartMessage synchronizes with customer databases to easily target campaigns based on criteria such as age, occupation, or location. SmartMessage is an on-premises solution that runs on a customer's hardware, while SmartMessage On-Demand is hosted on ODC servers
and requires no customer investment in infrastructure.
Although ODC has successfully engaged customers with its existing products, it faced challenges trying to reach customers in the small and medium enterprise (SME) segment, which ODC sees as a strong emerging market in the region. For these customers, the
hardware investment to host an on-premises SmartMessage deployment may be prohibitive, and they may not need the product's advanced features.
SmartMessage On-Demand is an alternative for these customers, but the rapid growth of the product was straining the ODC hosting infrastructure. "Each month, more than 20 million email messages and 10 million SMS messages are sent via SmartMessage On-Demand,"
says Oguz Kucukbarak, Managing Partner at ODC. "On peak usage days, it was becoming difficult and expensive for us to scale our hosting hardware to meet demand levels and satisfy our service level agreements for performance. So we began looking for a more
flexible and scalable solution that is suitable for SME customers."
Given the increasing viability of cloud-based solutions for highly scalable and cost-effective enterprise applications, ODC felt that a cloud solution would be a perfect match for the company's new version of SmartMessage. Specifically, ODC considered
Windows Azure, the Microsoft cloud services development, hosting, and management environment. "We have partnered with Microsoft since our company was founded," notes Kucukbarak. "So we felt that Windows Azure would fit perfectly with our product development
strategy. Windows Azure allows us to dynamically scale our resources, which makes it much easier to accommodate peak demand without additional infrastructure costs for us."
||Windows Azure allows us to dynamically scale our resources, which makes it much easier to accommodate peak demand without additional infrastructure costs.
| Oguz Kucukbarak
Managing Partner, ODC
A team of three developers began to work on the new product, SmartMessage Lite, in early 2012. Because the developers had experience with the Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 development system, the transition to Windows Azure went smoothly. Developers also found
it easy to access helpful resources during development. "We were able to turn to MSDN for answers and we got strong support from the local Microsoft team," notes Kucukbarak "There is a growing community of Windows Azure developers online and we were able to
find solutions to any problems we encountered."
In addition to making SmartMessage Lite more scalable with Windows Azure, the development team also made the product easier to use so that it is a better fit for SME customers. The initial release of SmartMessage Lite includes a simplified user interface
and core functionality for SMS distribution. A second phase of the product, currently scheduled for late 2012, will add email features.
Development of SmartMessage Lite took only three months, and the team was very happy with Windows Azure. "We were impressed by Windows Azure storage, which makes it easy to store huge amounts of data," says Kucukbarak. "We also found the Windows Azure emulator
very useful for locally testing new versions before moving them to the cloud. And the dynamic scalability of Windows Azure meant that we could spend less time worrying about resource allocation and more time enhancing product features."
By using Windows Azure to create SmartMessage Lite, ODC has ensured that the solution will be scalable and highly available for its customers. The product's appeal to SME businesses will help ODC to gain customers in a rapidly growing market segment,
and the company is looking forward to using Windows Azure for other solutions.
Scalability and Availability
Being able to meet extreme peaks in demand is a key part of SmartMessage Lite. "We are now able to give our customers a more available product, a better experience, and we have reduced our own costs," says Kucukbarak. "Windows Azure scales instantly
to meet our needs, and we only pay for the computing resources we use."
Reaching New Customers
By designing SmartMessage Lite with SME businesses in mind, ODC has positioned itself to substantially increase its market share and customer base. "Turkey is an emerging market, and the number of SMEs is increasing quickly," says Kucukbarak. "We now
have a product tailored to meet their needs. We expect SmartMessage Lite will help us reach new customers not only in Turkey, but in the entire region."
A Platform for Future Growth
ODC developers were able to get up to speed quickly with Windows Azure programming, and this made the development of SmartMessage Lite straightforward. The company is looking at Windows Azure for other solutions now. "Windows Azure enabled rapid application
development with no resource hassles," explains Kucukbarak. "The environment can expand as we grow and as our customers grow. We are looking forward to developing further in Windows Azure, and we are considering porting our other products to it."
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