Polycom launches new videoconferencing cloud solution

“We were surprised and impressed by the deep and thorough support of open source in Azure. It’s a whole new Microsoft! Our product primarily runs on open source operating systems, so it was a huge benefit to have open source support in Azure. We use Node.js, Go, Java, Python, and Ansible, and they’re all wonderfully supported in Azure.”
- Jeff Adams, Distinguished Engineer, Polycom

Beginning with its innovative speakerphone in 1990, Polycom has been a leading force in video, voice, and content collaboration for 25 years. It recently introduced Polycom RealConnect for Office 365, which allows diverse videoconferencing endpoints to participate in Skype for Business Online calls. Polycom created and runs RealConnect in Microsoft Azure using open source software. With Azure, Polycom slashed development time by half and can scale RealConnect instantly, deploy it globally, and refresh it continuously.

Read the complete customer story here.

RealBox's open source solution delivers a high-end cinematic experience

"PVR always strives to deliver a highly engaging Cinematic experience for our customers. Technology is at the core of everything we do and we’re really excited to see the partnership between RealBox and Microsoft enhancing our customers’ experience at the movie hall and beyond. We were initially skeptical about open source technologies and public cloud, but the confidence of the team at RealBox and the platform capabilities of Azure put them all to rest." - Rajat Tyagi, CIO, PVR

PVR Cinemas and PVR Director’s Cut (its luxurious cinema experience), one of RealBox’s customers, drive engaging cinematic experiences for their customers through an IOT enabled point-of-sale (POS) device. The solution enables customers to place orders using a mobile app from their seats in the auditoriums, transmitting the orders directly to the kitchens.

To enable this scenario for PVR customers, RealBox undertook the development of its own server-side API application, using Node.js and MongoDB, deploying early prototypes over Linux CentOS 6 virtual machines. Their solution involved an IoT device that served as a point-of-sale in the PVR Director’s Cut, and consisted of three applications.

Read more about RealBox's open source solution and how they seamlessly migrated this solution to Microsoft Azure, significantly reducing the time to maintain the solution and deploy new features, as well as leveraging the platform's advanced analytics.

sony management team

Sony Global Manufacturing & Operations combines the cloud with open source software to reduce costs

“The fact that Azure supports various Red Hat solutions including Red Hat Enterprise Linux, as well as Windows Server, was one of the key criteria for selecting cloud vendors.”
Tomohiro Katabira, Business Strategies Group, Cloud Business Development Department at Visionarts, Inc.

Sony Global Manufacturing & Operations Corporation, based in Japan, provides product design, manufacturing, and repair services of domestic individual or industrial electronics, as well as global support of the Sony VAIO service. To avoid any impact from restructured VAIO support operations, executives decided to migrate on-premises customer support systems into Microsoft Azure. Running Red Hat Enterprise Linux VMs on Azure enabled Sony Global Manufacturing & Operations to lower costs while maintaining high quality customer support.

Read the complete customer story here.

LiveOcean predictive model screen shot

Predicting ocean chemistry using Microsoft Azure

Shellfish farmer Bill Dewey remembers the first year he heard of ocean acidification, a phrase that means a change in chemistry for ocean water. It was around 2008, and Dewey worked for Taylor Shellfish, a company that farms oysters in ocean waters off the coast of Washington. That year, thousands of tiny “seed” oysters died off suddenly. Today, a cloud-based predictive system from the University of Washington (UW) and Microsoft Research may help the shellfish industry survive changing conditions by providing forecasts about ocean water.

Dewey, director of Public Affairs for Taylor Shellfish, vividly remembers walking into a conference room where an audience of shellfish farmers first heard that ocean acidification might threaten their industry profoundly. They learned that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making ocean water more acidic. In 2013, the Washington legislature stepped in and asked the UW to study and build a predictive forecast model, aptly named, LiveOcean.

Just like a numerical weather forecast model, LiveOcean will soon provide a forecast that predicts the acidity of water in a specific bay, part of Puget Sound or other coastal regions, days in advance.

Parker MacCready, a professor of physical oceanography at UW, is the scientist leading the LiveOcean team and used Microsoft Azure to create the cloud-based storage system. The system  holds enormous amounts of data from his remote ocean model, the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS), which helps feed the LiveOcean models. The Azure component uses Python and the Django web framework to provide these forecasts in an easy-to-consume format. To produce these forecasts, the LiveOcean system relies on other sources: US Geological Survey data (for river flow), atmospheric forecasts, and another ocean model called HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM).

Dewey needs information on the acidity levels because a baby oyster needs to create a shell immediately to survive, and needs carbonate ions in the water to make that first tiny shell. If the water is too acidic, the baby oyster must use too much energy and dies in its attempt to make that first shell. Taylor Shellfish has hatcheries for the baby oysters and “planting” beds where young oysters are carried  to grow to full size. Forecasts of water acidity in both places would help the company know when it was safe to hatch the babies, and where (and when) it is safe to plant them.

Ocean acidification is an emerging global problem, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Scientists are just starting to monitor ocean acidification worldwide, so it is impossible to predict exactly in what ways it will affect the marine environment. In a report, NOAA wrote, “There is an urgent need to strengthen the science as a basis for sound decision making and action.”

Azure tools make the system open to anybody. MacCready is eager to see how others develop sites pulling data on water currents for kayakers, for example, or information for salmon fishers. He is particularly excited about “particle tracking,” which helps him see where individual particles in the ocean move. That tracking could predict where an oil spill might move, for example. Using the cloud is “the way of the future” from his scientific perspective. “It gives the ability to create and use different resources without having to go out and buy hardware yourself.”

Fine-tuning and testing is essential to the reliability of the predictions. In recent years, MacCready and others have been validating the forecasts that LiveOcean is making. They pair real observations from physical instruments to predictions. Within months, he hopes to refine forecasts down to the level of individual bays, so that he can tell Dewey whether Samish Bay or Willapa Bay, for example, is “safe” for the new oysters.

LiveOcean has impacts far beyond just the shellfish industry. Jan Newton, principal oceanographer at the Applied Physics Laboratory, is the co-director of the Washington Ocean Acidification Project (WOAP), believes it may change how the public sees climate change and ocean chemistry.

“Data portals and models like LiveOcean can really make a bridge [of understanding] because even if people don’t understand the chemistry, they’ll look at the color-coding and see how this changes with location and season,” she said. Dewey believes that these tools for the Pacific Ocean chemistry will be adopted by others for oceans worldwide.

To learn more, check out the customer video here.

GeekWire improves scalability and cuts costs with WordPress on Azure

Azure should be part of the conversation about hosting WordPress sites. GeekWire is a high-traffic, very dynamic WordPress site successfully running Linux technologies on Azure.
-Kevin Lisota, Web Developer, GeekWire

Based in Seattle, Washington, GeekWire is a rapidly growing technology news site with a global readership. As its popularity and site traffic has increased over time, so have performance concerns. To gain better scalability and performance, GeekWire migrated its WordPress site to the Microsoft Azure platform. By taking advantage of fully managed services, like Azure Database for MySQL, the company can now scale on-demand while cutting costs 45 percent.

Check out the complete case study here.


Marc Jacobs modernizes its back office in high style

In the fast-paced world of fashion design, everything depends on the ability to act on a flash of inspiration. For renowned fashion house Marc Jacobs, this requires access to products, services and talent from around the globe—and the management of a complex supply chain. When Marc Jacobs turned to the cloud-based AP invoice automation solution MediusFlow to automate its accounts payable workflow and process data on the Azure platform, it guaranteed that it could quickly and easily pay its vendors and let its employees get back to the creative work that goes into designing and delivering its next collection.

The MediusFlow cloud application is built on the Azure application platform. Within the MediusFlow solution, Marc Jacobs uses a designated Azure SQL Database. The company’s short-lived data goes into Azure Redis Cache, and invoice images and attachments go into Azure Blob storage, where MediusFlow aggregates average and best-in-class values for all its customers. With this data at hand, MediusFlow can benchmark Marc Jacobs’ process performance, track how many invoices are automatically connected to the correct orders, and measure how it compares to others in the industry for total processing lead times.

“We run HAProxy, the open source software TCP/HTTP load balancer on Linux in the Azure platform. Even with open source tools in the mix, our team can depend heavily on Microsoft PowerShell to manage and automate system administration in the open Azure platform,” says Mattias Wolff, Cloud Operations Manager at Medius. “And Microsoft’s OSS support makes our team really efficient in our daily work. Almost everything we do is with PowerShell rather than doing things manually, which frees up time to focus on delivering new MediusFlow releases to end users at Marc Jacobs and bringing data from the application back to our developers and product teams.”

To learn more about how Marc Jacobs reduced its invoice processing lead time from 45 to 11 days with this technology solution, check out the complete customer story here.

Hitachi streamlines dev environment using Red Hat OpenShift on Azure

"Infrastructure that used to take three to four days to set up in a physical environment now takes only 20 minutes on Azure IaaS."
-- Shigeru Tachikawa: Head of Architecture Design Department, Service Solution Operation, Application Services Division, Information and Communication Technology Business Division, Hitachi, Ltd.

Hitachi Application Services has developed some of the world’s largest enterprise systems, including mega-bank financial systems and train reservation systems. It has packaged its know-how in a JavaEE-based development framework called Hitachi Application Framework. Hitachi modified Hitachi Application Framework for use with containers so that it can be used in Microsoft Azure in combination with the Red Hat OpenShift container framework. By offering Hitachi Application Framework in Azure, Hitachi gives developers much faster infrastructure setup, extensive automation, and anywhere-development freedom, all of which will expand the use of Hitachi Application Framework.

Read the complete customer story here.

NEC's new DevOps approach delivers big results

We were confident that if we worked together with Microsoft, we could leap instantly over the hurdles that we had been unable to cross up to that point to adopt a DevOps approach with open source technologies.

-Toshiyuki Andou, Assistant Manager, Technology Management Headquarters, Agile Development Support Center at NEC Solution Innovators, Ltd.

NEC Solution Innovators, the core NEC Group company responsible for software development, system integration, and related service, wanted to improve its development processes. To accomplish that, the company adopted a DevOps approach and combined Microsoft Azure and open source software (OSS), running CentOS/Ubuntu and Docker on Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines.

The Information Systems Division of the company dramatically reduced its release cycle, from an average of eight months to as little as one week, and optimized the allocation and recovery of development costs. These results are changing the internal culture at NEC Solution Innovators in a major way. To learn more about NEC's successful DevOps rollout, read the complete customer story here.


Savoir-Faire Linux creates innovative open source software on Azure

Savoir-Faire Linux, a Montreal-based software company and systems integrator, has open source in its DNA. Every day, the company relies on the latest open source technologies to build everything from custom OS firmware for embedded devices to powerful mobile apps.

Savoir-Faire Linux is using the open source capabilities in Microsoft Azure to design and build projects such as portals and document management systems for 500 customers across the globe. The organization also creates data processing and big data analytics solutions based on the Hadoop, Spark, and Kafka frameworks. Savoir-Faire Linux takes advantage of the reliability and availability of Microsoft Azure to create solutions that are scalable, performant, and stable.

Check out the below video to learn more. You can watch the French version of the video here.

Improving the Office 365 experience for millions of customers with DataStax Enterprise on Azure

Millions of businesses worldwide use open source technology, and Microsoft is no exception. In fact, one in three Azure Virtual Machines are Linux, and Microsoft is using of open source technologies to enhance its own cloud services. For example, the Office 365 Customer Fabrics Platform Team at Microsoft recently chose DataStax Enterprise -- the always-on data platform for cloud applications powered by Apache Cassandra -- to improve service across multiple areas. Now, administrators work with DataStax Enterprise to gain insight into user experience, resulting in better customer support and more satisfied, productive customers.

To learn more, check out the full customer story or join DataStax and Microsoft for a free webinar on June 8 to walk though the use case.