BitDepth 768 - February 08

A local software developer evaluates Microsoft's new Azure cloud product.
A test balloon into the cloud
Kevin Khelawan at Teleois’ offices. Photography by Mark Lyndersay.

In June 2010, Microsoft Trinidad and Tobago formally announced its cloud computing technology initiative, Windows Azure in Trinidad and Tobago.
November the company was talking confidently about the scale of global and local adoption of the technology.
Azure leverages Microsoft’s software platforms in a web enabled service environment through data centers it hosts for companies interested in moving all or part of their back office technology operations to the cloud.

While the company has implemented cloud computing efforts for end users, the company has been focusing its investment in cloud hosting on its partners and major clients.
Teleois, a 23-year-old technology company based in Woodbrook built its business on Microsoft technologies and has been testing Azure since it opened to developer testing early in 2010.

“We’ve been doing what’s called cloud computing since we began with mobile services,” said Teleois Chief Operating Officer Kevin Khelawan. 
The company’s key product, Message Central which drives its text messaging services to local telecoms companies, was developed using dotNet, an programming environment developed by Microsoft for the web. The company was selected as Microsoft’s Country Partner for the year 2010.

Teleois’s early poking around with the platform matured into a real focus on the possibilities of Azure in September 2010.
“Different developers will have different experiences with Azure,” said Khelawan, “and some of those differences can be significant.”

For Message Central, which Khelawan describes as being a transaction processing tool, critical issues arose in the way that data was being stored by the software. The full review of the way their software worked revealed areas that could be optimised for Azure, where data flows would be metered.

“That proved to be a good thing,” Khelawan said. “When we ran out of room before, we’d just add more storage to the SAN, but the Azure evaluation made us think more about the way the software stores the actual data.”
There’s now a version of Message Central that runs on Azure, but Khelawan describes it as a proof of concept technology, still some distance from even pilot testing on the Microsoft cloud infrastructure.
Clearly, Teleois has a system that works now, so why consider Azure at all?

“Well, Azure can scale faster and more deeply than we can. It’s not just about storage, the whole infrastructure (supporting Message Central) can be upgraded when it’s necessary.”
In addition, Azure offers geographic redundancy, replicating services, storage across datacenters in different countries and a rich computing infrastructure for developers. Upgrades aren’t a matter of buy, test, install, test again anymore. If Teleois needs more storage or more computing power, it just pays to add it and it’s available.

Azure is also global, which means that text messaging would move from being tied to local bandwidth connections to multiple connections throughout the world, something that’s certainly attractive to a technology developer specialising in text messaging with a stated commitment to global solutions.
For all those charms, Teleois is still deciding how it will work with Azure, whether it will migrate systems completely or partially there, but recent software implementations from Microsoft spoke directly to the issues that Teleois has been facing with a potential implementation on the platform. 

“At least one change,” Khelawan notes, “will allow us to connect to the legacy networks that we work with for the carriers that we serve.”
“We’re seriously considering it and a team is actively looking at proving the company’s technology on the Azure platform.”
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