When Breeze Training and Consultancy, a Microsoft gold competency partner in Australia, built a solution on Windows Azure for online gaming operator Centrebet, they were confident that the solution would benefit the customer. But it never bet on what the solution would mean to—and do for—Breeze itself. I got the story from Nicki Page, Managing Director at Breeze. Below are some excerpts from our recent conversation:

Josh Waldo: Tell me about your customer and the challenges it wanted to solve.
Nicki Page: Centrebet needed a solution to proactively handle major increases in customer demand, but scalability was only the start of it. Given the online gaming market, and the expectations of its customers, high availability was a must. The company wanted to focus solely on its core business—not on the technology and not on big investments in the technology. Oh—did I mention that it all had to be in production in just four months?
JW: You based your solution on Windows Azure. How did you make the case for it?
NP: We listened carefully to the customer, then delivered a customized POC faster than they expected. We showed we could meet their benchmarks with Windows Azure, and used a pricing calculator early on to get them comfortable with the budget. The POC helped to allay their chief concern, around security. They wanted to keep their IP on-premise, while still taking full advantage of Windows Azure. We showed them they could. And we were so successful, we beat an incumbent competitor.
JW: How did you take advantage of your Microsoft partner status?
NP: Our partner status was really helpful. We got help from the Microsoft Customer Advisory Team and from local integration and Windows Azure specialists to address customer questions about data security legislation, pricing models, and other concerns. We also teamed up with another Microsoft partner, a larger reseller, to help ensure that Centrebet had the best pricing and licensing solution. Without partnering, we couldn’t have done all of this.
JW: What’s the result for Centrebet?
NP: Centrebet used the solution for the Melbourne Cup & the Spring Racing Carnival, which is the largest horse racing event in the Southern Hemisphere. On the first high-traffic day with Windows Azure, the company handled 45 percent more transactions than it had during the same peak a year before. That’s 400,000 transactions in one day, at speeds of up to 400 transactions per second—four times faster than before. Centrebet avoided any significant capital investment—in fact, it even reduced its hardware footprint by 90 percent. And we made the four-month deadline. Centrebet now uses this solution for all major international sporting events.
JW: I understand that Breeze really won’t be the same after this?
NP: No, it won’t. We started as a training company. But this work with Windows Azure really showcased our expertise in delivering innovative product-integration solutions. We acquired other large projects at major Australian companies. And we changed our business model to focus on this. Our margins are stronger and our revenue is more predictable. We’re even expanding into healthcare, banking, retail, and consumer goods. We have double-digit growth and expect revenue to reach AU$5 million within three years.
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