General Mills Builds E-Commerce Site on Windows Azure to Promote Gluten-Free Lifestyle

REDMOND, Wash. — Aug. 15, 2011 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that General Mills Inc. has built a direct-to-consumer online channel, called Gluten Freely, based on the Windows Azure platform. Designed to help consumers who have Celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten, a protein naturally found in certain grains, the website helps people locate and shop for gluten-free foods and provides diet and health information.

“We needed to build an e-commerce solution without incurring the costs and maintenance of a traditional on-premises platform,” said Dom Alcocer, marketing manager at General Mills. “Gluten Freely was brought to market about twice as fast and at about half the cost of what we were expecting from a traditional IT development.”

Recognizing the growing importance of meeting the needs of consumers who need to remove gluten from their diet, General Mills began making a range of gluten-free food products beginning with Rice Chex cereal in 2008. The company looked for a focused way to direct its products and information to the public while avoiding the burden of investing in traditional hardware and software IT resources.

Using Windows Azure as a platform, General Mills was able to build a direct-to-consumer online channel in the cloud. So far, the company has experienced substantial site traffic, sales, consumer enthusiasm and positive social media feedback, including more than 90,000 Facebook fans.

“General Mills is excelling at developing innovative business models, and we enjoyed supporting the company’s effort to build a brand-new business solution in the cloud,” said Mark Hindsbo, vice president U.S. Developer and Platform Evangelism at Microsoft. “Windows Azure was just right for Gluten Freely: a scalable and comprehensive platform that was flexible and cost-effective.”

More information about how Windows Azure helped General Mills build its new e-commerce channel is available in a case study at More information about Windows Azure is available at

About General Mills

General Mills is one of the world’s leading food companies, operating in more than 100 countries. Its consumer brands include Cheerios, Fiber One, Haagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant and Old El Paso. Headquartered in Minneapolis, General Mills had fiscal 2011 global net sales of $14.9 billion (U.S.).

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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