SANTIAGO, Chile — April 4, 2012 — Software service provider Signature South Consulting has used Windows Azure to successfully build and launch a scalable business-to-business (B2B) networking site that can reach a large, multinational customer base, including users of Windows Phone and other mobile devices. The company credits the cloud-based solution with quick deployment and also with cutting its IT costs by 60 percent.
“Developing our Gosocket site on Windows Azure has saved us about 60 percent in hosting costs,” said Mario Fernández, CEO at Santiago-based Signature South Consulting. “That is a huge benefit for our company’s future profitability and can help fund further expansion.”
After providing electronic invoicing and other services to businesses for a decade, Signature South Consulting’s leaders saw an opportunity in the amount of data the company had accrued through its e-invoicing. “There was an immense amount of information that could be leveraged by our customers, including data revealing their relationships and connections with consumers and other businesses,” Fernández said.
In addition to fostering interaction among its customers, a B2B networking site would provide a more economical platform for Signature South Consulting’s online services. “We’d been using a traditional hosting provider for nearly 10 years, so we knew about hosting costs,” Fernández said. The company also wanted to open the site to third-party vendors, which would deliver additional value and further enhance communication.
Signature South Consulting anticipated challenges, both in developing a site of this complexity and in how to find adequate scalability. Expecting to add millions of small-business customers to its network, the site needed to efficiently handle large volumes of information. It also hoped to launch quickly and keep development costs to a minimum.
When Gosocket went live on Windows Azure in December 2011, company leaders were surprised at how quickly and smoothly the site came together. It took the IT team just one week to create a seamless mobile application for Windows Phone, which the company considered a priority in light of the burgeoning popularity of mobile devices among enterprise users in Latin America. The team is focused on adding support for Android, iPhone and Blackberry as well.
“Windows Azure is an amazing environment for developing new solutions, as our one-week development process demonstrated,” said Mariano Beeche, technology development manager at Signature South Consulting. Beeche added that the valuable array of development tools and assistance provided by Windows Azure proved critical to the short build and deployment of Gosocket. His team used the Windows Azure Toolkit to develop the Windows Phone app, the design tutorials to integrate the platform components and the migration tool to move an existing Microsoft SQL Server database.
“We looked at other cloud platforms including Amazon, but there is nothing on the market that competes with Windows Azure in terms of expediting development of a new solution,” Beeche said. “We got the production database up and running in less than a day.”
Fernández views the scalability of Windows Azure as critical to the company’s growth, allowing the site’s infrastructure to be modified substantially within an hour. “Within three years, we expect to have literally millions of customers, including small businesses, accessing their Gosocket information every day,” he said. “Without that scalability, it would be difficult or impossible to follow this business plan.”
Signature South Consulting is an independent software vendor specializing in solutions for the financial services industry. Based in Santiago, Chile, the company has been operating since 2001, building a large business and client base throughout Latin America. The company’s solutions are used by more than 2,500 corporate customers across many industries, including financial services, pharmaceuticals, insurance, retail, telecommunications and mining.
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