A multinational conglomerate and a leading player in various business sectors, Essar Group is always looking for ways to improve its offerings. As a market leader, the group decided to obtain the benefits of both public and private cloud computing by focusing on solutions that reduce cost of ownership, enhance product quality, and increase worker productivity. It used the Windows Azure platform to deliver some of its applications on the Internet through a Microsoft data centre. As a result, the group gained the scalability it wanted, while avoiding capital expenses and saving 65 percent of costs compared to an on-premises version. Also, by avoiding the hassle of maintaining an on-premises environment, employees are able to focus on mission critical tasks and achieve operational efficiencies.
The Essar Group is a multinational conglomerate and a leading player in the sectors of steel, oil and gas, power, communications and business process outsourcing (BPO), shipping, ports and logistics, projects, and minerals. The group began its operations in 1969 as a construction company but quickly moved to capitalize on every business opportunity. With operations in more than 25 countries across five continents, the group employs 75,000 people, with revenues of U.S.$ 17 billion.
The group recognizes that a key ingredient to attaining success in a competitive industry is superior customer service. It is therefore constantly looking for ways to use technology to enhance value for its enterprise customers.
Already familiar with the concept of cloud computing, Essar wanted to develop a cloud version of some of its applications to increase their appeal. Specifically, it wanted to reduce the capital investment required to run these applications on-premises. At the same time, it wanted to reduce the level of IT maintenance required to manage the applications, a cost that is incurred with any on-premises software application.
“We were focused on enhancing our offerings,” says Jayantha Prabhu, CTO, Essar Group. “What we needed was an infrastructure that could scale to meet our needs and grow as we grow.”
To cater to its needs, Essar was looking at implementing both a public and a private cloud. The company started with investigating possibilities available in the market. However, when it was approached by Microsoft Services with its Windows Azure platform, Essar executives saw the answer needed to shape its thoughts. The Windows Azure platform is an Internet-scale cloud services platform that is hosted in Microsoft data centers. It includes an operating system and a set of developer services that can be used individually or collectively in a pay-as-you-go model. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage web applications on the Internet.
Microsoft Services did a cost benefit analysis and showed Essar some of the possible worst-case scenarios. “We quickly knew that we had made the best choice in selecting the Windows Azure platform,” says Jayantha Prabhu. “It gives us a true service-oriented architecture, where the maintenance is managed by Microsoft and we don’t have to worry about a thing.”
The company partnered with MindTree, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner that delivers a broad range of IT services and software-product engineering to implement the solution.
In August 2011, Essar migrated four of its applications to the Windows Azure platform. These included HSECAR (Corrective Action Report (CAR) system), AVID (A Voyage into Insatiable Discovery), Saksham, and Visitor Management System & Gate Pass System. The process was unexpectedly easy and the migration was smooth. The company is now using the Windows Azure cloud services operating system, the development, service hosting, and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform, to provide on-demand computing and storage capacity for these applications.
The subscription cost model of Windows Azure was exciting to Essar. It made it possible for the company to access technology at a fraction of the cost of an on-premises deployment.
“With Windows Azure, we don’t have to spend money on hardware and software, and we don’t have to spend time on administrative tasks related to infrastructure,” says Jayantha Prabhu. “A scalable, well-defined platform gives us much fewer problems to solve and more time to focus on the overall experience of the application. We can put all of our effort into our core competencies.”
With its move to the cloud, Essar is experiencing multiple benefits. Using the Windows Azure platform, Essar is in the process of developing a cost-effective, scalable model for its internal non-critical applications. A private cloud hosts its communication and collaboration infrastructure.
The company expects to speed deployment, reduce upfront capital costs, and lower ongoing operating expenses. It will also be able to achieve critical scalability.
Reduces Costs by 65 Percent
Using Windows Azure allows Essar to manage costs more effectively by minimizing their capital investment, reducing operating costs by avoiding infrastructure maintenance overheads, and paying only for what they use as they use it.“ By delivering our applications through the Windows Azure platform, we will increase profitability and reduce costs by as much as 65 percent,” says Jayantha Prabhu.
Reduces Management Overheads
By using Windows Azure, IT staff members no longer spend as much time on everyday infrastructure management. “As the solution is hosted in Microsoft data centers, we are saving significant support time and costs that would have been spent otherwise for monitoring, and managing our IT infrastructure,” says Jayantha Prabhu. “Now, we can devote more time to work on mission critical operations.”
Provides Superior Scalability
In addition to cutting capital expenses, employees can also scale up and down with Windows Azure. “We can quickly scale up when extra compute and storage resources are needed, as well as scale down when only fewer resources are needed,” says Jayantha Prabhu. “Windows Azure provides us a dynamic and highly scalable platform. In fact, we can maintain the high level of scalability needed at a lower TCO compared to an on-premises solution.”
Windows Azure Platform
The Windows Azure platform provides an excellent foundation for expanding online product and service offerings. The main components include:
Windows Azure. Windows Azure is the development, service hosting, and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage Web applications on the Internet through Microsoft data centers.
Microsoft SQL Azure. Microsoft SQL Azure offers the first cloud-based relational and self-managed database service built on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 technologies.
Windows Azure platform AppFabric. With Windows Azure platform AppFabric, developers can build and manage applications more easily both on-premises and in the cloud.
AppFabric Service Bus connects services and applications across network boundaries to help developers build distributed applications.
AppFabric Access Control provides federated, claims-based access control for REST Web services.
Microsoft Codename “Dallas.” Developers and information workers can use the new service code-named Dallas to easily discover, purchase, and manage premium data subscriptions in the Windows Azure platform.
To learn more about the Windows Azure platform, visit:www.windowsazure.com
About MindTree Ltd
MindTree Ltd is a global IT and product engineering services company with deep knowledge in specific domains. MindTree is acknowledged as the best mid-size software services company out of India for its capability to build, test, and deploy solutions, as much as it places emphasis on culture, customer centricity, and corporate governance.
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For more information about Essar Group products and services, call +91 22 66601100 or visit the website at: www.essar.com
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