Windows Azure Lessons Learned: Sitemasher

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In this episode of Azure Lessons Learned I chat with Phil Calvin, CTO of Sitemasher.  Sitemasher is a web site platform for service providers.  They have an interactive environment for web designers, user experience designers, and web content owners to build on.  Their target is more user experience html and css designers, service providers and agencies building highly scalable web sites.

For Sitemasher, Azure provides uptime and availability over their previous hosting in dual colo spaces in L.A. and Vancouver.  They’ve now moved to Azure so they don’t have to worry about the infrastructure.

Phil showed a few sites that clearly illustrate the target for their product: a professional design tool for web professionals.  He also shows how their design tools allow web designers and javascript jockeys to visually design pages, forms, databases and manage the related sites and data.

From an architectural point of view the solution is built with shared-everything multi-tenancy in mind whether on-prem, hosted or in the cloud.  Related to that, Phil helped out in a session on multi-tenancy at PDC (have a look at it here).

The Sitemasher architecture before the move to Azure included multiple instances of SQL Server 2008 as well as multiple instances of Windows Server 2008 running IIS 7.   The solution is a C# ASP.NET application running across that infrastructure.  Naturally there were load balancers in front of all that to help with scale.  As a small startup they had to manage all of that infrastructure.

With Azure they don’t have to worry about any of that.  They also no longer have to worry about uptime, backups or any of the individual hardware systems.  Instead they focus on their core intellectual property and core value which is innovation around the software itself.  They’ve built a C# web role for the front end as well a worker role for caching using memcached.  Naturally they are now using SQL Azure for database scale out.

The video is a little dated (sorry got busy with MIX :[  ) so where Phil talks about getting ready to move they are now actually on the Windows Azure platform.

Phil has some very good tips and best practices toward the end of the video where he talks about how he ported over to Windows Azure and some of the lessons he learned.

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