In the digital version of this shift, the role of utilities is played by the megadata centers. The cloudpeople are saying this technological wave, too, will make everyone a winner. Corporate technology has a chance to shift from a painful, dark art to something that injects new life into businesses. The only losers will be those companies that sit still and suffer grim outcomes at the hands of smaller companies that embrace the cloud.
Carl Ryden has issued this exact message to contemplative types at big companies. He is co-founder of MarginPro, an eight-person outfit in Charlotte that built a service out of Microsoft’s Azure to help banks price commercial loans. Each month, MarginPro analyzes $700 million worth of lending. For every $10 million in revenue the company makes off this work, it pays $1,500 in cloud fees to Microsoft. “We sell around the technology guys and straight to the business folks,” Ryden says.
MarginPro also analyzes its customer data to get a sense of trends in the loan market and the overall health of the economy. Ryden says he’s impressed with the quality of the analysis and might turn it into an additional business. He’s also delighted he now has the technological wherewithal that used to be available only to organizations with a lot more money—organizations such as banks, his clientele. “You can find 100 reasons not to move to the cloud,” Ryden says. “But you’re going to look up one day and all you will be doing is managing the systems that connect all your printers.”
We started with a blank screen and a blinking cursor, so it was fairly easy for us to move. In fact, what held us up is that our application was written and running on .NET 4, and we had to wait for Azure to get upgraded so we could move. Because we were kind of pushing out on the edge, it was probably easier for us to move the whole thing, en masse.
Software Company Reduces IT Maintenance and Supports More Revenue with Cloud Services
MarginPro develops loan pricing and profitability software to help community banks and credit unions find the most profitable loan structure for borrowers. The company developed its proprietary MarginPro software from the beginning to run in a cloud-computing environment, and previously used a third-party provider to host its virtual application servers. However, employees at MarginPro were distracted by IT maintenance tasks and had to mitigate service interruptions during new deployments. So, in May 2010, MarginPro migrated to the Windows Azure platform for hosting and compute processing, including Microsoft SQL Azure for its relational database needs. Now the company enjoys quick and easy scalability, uptime during deployments, and a SAS 70 Type II-compliant infrastructure that customers trust. Plus, MarginPro can better focus on its core competencies and growing a successful business.
There will be an interview posted shortly as well..
This story has somewhat of a twisted/interesting plot to it – in the Spring semester of my Junior year of high-school we were told to pick a topic for our “Senior Project” and find a mentor that would, a year later, sign off on our work and try and guide us on the right path for our career. Being heavily involved in game development and 3D computer graphics for around 5 years at that point and living only two hours away, I decided to be a little randy and contact Tim Sweeney – the lead programmer at Epic Games.
Much to my surprise he actually responded back and said that he might be interested but wanted me to put together a demo for him within two weeks. While reading his response the entire left side of my body went numb, literally, and I could no longer move that half of my body. I very slowly somehow managed to make my way downstairs to the kitchen where I found my brother, Nate, and attempted to ask him for a drink of water. After several minutes of attempting this only to see him look back with an odd look on his face I ended up getting the water myself with extraordinary difficulty. I have no memory of the next several hours except waking up around 3AM in my bed (having no clue how I got there) and vomiting profusely well into the morning. My mom woke up at one point and decided to let me stay home the next day. The vomiting continued for around three days and I didn’t return to normalcy or school for, coincidently, two weeks. Coming from a relatively large, very low income family and having a 3D game engine demo to write from scratch, I chose to skip the hospital visit and instead spent every waking moment where I wasn’t vomiting or delirious on the demo. Having never actually been checked out, no one really knows for sure what happened to me but the general consensus was that it was either a stroke and/or heart attack.. at age 16.
I feel like I’m getting a bit nostalgic all of a sudden.. 🙂
This is another product I created for Prime Vendor in Wilmington, NC in order to collect all the bid information offered by any government agency in the United States.
The core problem here was that there’s somewhere around hundreds of thousands of organizations in the United States government that post bids for private contractors to, well, bid upon. Many of these organizations post multiple new bids every day – some of which are streamed out of a database but, surprisingly, lots of these government agencies still relied on human beings to update their tables of offers. When your job is to create a network of ‘spiders’ that go to these pages and are just supposed to check if anything has changed since their last visit and, if so, download the new data and submit it as a new bid.. well, there are often complications.
It appears that boredom can, in fact, strike twice in the same day – I’ve added another entry into my projects section for anyone interested.
Commerce Network is a product I created for a small Wilmington, NC – based company by the name of PrimeVendor Inc. It was designed to electronically handle all invoices, purchase orders and receiving reports passed between the private sector and the United States government in addition to all state governments governed by the US. At the time of creation it was typical of most government agencies (and many contractors) to handle all of this manually on paper through snail mail and faxes with humans processing the documents. Needless to say, the cost savings of replacing all of these humans and paper with a software, paperless solution are dramatic and compelling.
In order to meet these lofty goals the product had to be designed in such a way as to support any and all delivery mechanisms, protocols and data formats and, similarly, be able to then transform this data of ‘any’ format to an output destination of ‘any’ protocol in whatever format the receiver required. It also had to be able to scale to the levels of potentially handling billions to trillions of such interactions in a day. Additionally, we needed a web portal accessible by both our clients and the agencies they dealt with where the users could create, send and receive these documents in addition to being able to view the logs of all documents that passed through our system (and bring up each archived document for display).
So it appears that I finally got bored enough to update my blog with a new theme and a projects section detailing some of the current and past projects I’ve worked on. For now I’ve just added my current project, MarginPro, but as boredom ensues I’ll add some of the others..
MarginPro is an extremely extensive cloud (Windows Azure) application consisting of probably the single most fully featured and beautiful business application written in Silverlight 4 currently around. In addition to this there is also our public facing MVC application that hosts all of our marketing material, login page and a full featured help (editable and expandable in real-time by admins) and support site complete with training videos, tutorials, the ability to log support cases directly to our support department and numerous deep integrations with our CRM system to enable our sales and front-line support staff to handle the vast majority of issues that arise without ever needing to expend any development team effort.
This project is a perfect example of the benefits of software done right – if any of our customers any where in the world ever encounters an error, our development team is instantly notified via extremely detailed e-mail complete w/ the error message, stack trace and a few other pertinent bits of information. Usually within a matter of minutes we’re able to resolve these issues and can then, with the click of a button, deploy the fix to every single user of our system without even a second of downtime or a single user interrupted. Likewise we’re able to develop, test and deploy new features the same way with a turnaround rate of ‘several’ to a dozen+ features pushed to customers every week.