Featured BizSpark Startup on Azure – cWyze

Interview with Mary Hagy, Founder and CEO of cWyze.

Web site: http://www.cwyze.com/

Tell us who you are and your role in the company:

Founder and CEO.

What is your company’s mission?

cWyze is a B2B solution that delivers, online and on mobile, interactive video engagements that turn what is normally a one-way transmission into a powerful, two-way dialogue between content owners and their viewers, while collecting and reporting rich business intelligence data to drive smarter business decisions.

In 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does:

cWyze delivers customized, interactive video to viewers and rich business intelligence data to clients.

Tell us about your Azure based solution.

cWyze is an industry-agnostic platform that delivers the mission in multiple use cases, from enterprise clients with specialized integration needs to simple website embeds. cWyze is especially effective in marketing/advertising/ecommerce, knowledge transfer such as corporate communications/professional training, touch screen event engagement, and mobile presentations.

The cWyze Studio is the platform's workhorse. Clients log into the Studio to upload videos and apply customized viewer interactions such as quizzes, contest judging, polls, games, click-to-purchase or download, free-form text entry and incentives/rewards/coupons/virtual currency, among other tools. Clients can change the customized interactions on the fly in response to viewer behavior, market opportunities or internal business processes, such as inventory management for ecommerce. The Studio Dashboard presents top video performers and aggregated data at a glance, while the Reports and Analytics feature delivers granular data on individual videos, from individual viewers, in near-real time.

We built cWyze to hum on volume, so operating in a cloud environment was our decision from day one. As a video platform that can expect surges and lulls in viewer usage, we need to dial up and down with ease and reliability. Some cloud services promote the ability to dial up and down, but we discovered that dialing down had restrictions and penalties. 

We chose to develop the core cWyze platform on the industry-proven .Net framework, so Windows Azure was a natural fit. However, other cloud services were options, and we evaluated large providers, like Amazon and Google and Rackspace. Our research revealed that Windows Azure integrated seamlessly into our development environment, was fully and dynamically scalable, and offered a user-friendly administrative portal. Azure’s security features and 99.9% guaranteed up time protects against data loss and in the event of a catastrophy such as a natural disaster, built-in recovery and business continuity features are assured. These assets enabled us to provide our clients with a full enterprise solution.

How is Azure implemented in your solution?

We leverage the power of these Azure Platform features: Compute, SQL Azure, Blob, Content Delivery Network, Cache, and Storage Transactions. We’ve implemented a hosted Service for both our live and test environments. Each hosted service is configured with production and staging deployments, with a web role configured with multiple compute instances.  

How did you get excited about Azure?

We saw a great opportunity to grow with Microsoft and with Azure. For cWyze as a BizSpark Startup and now as an inductee of the Azure Circle, our enthusiasm stems from the demonstrated reliability and technical edge that Azure delivers, and business development opportunities offered by Microsoft. As an Independent Software Vendor and as a Cloud Service Vendor, we have enjoyed the significant partner benefits that are a hallmark of Microsoft's success. As an example, Azure Evangelist Gunther Lenz invited cWyze to present its Azure experience at a conference at Microsoft’s New York headquarters, which opened doors to technical and business development resources. Gunter and Sanjay Jain have been phenomenal technical partners to cWyze’s CTO, Fred Coia. Francesco Rietti, Azure Business Development Manager, has opened doors to sales and co-marketing opportunities that are driving our mutual success. We're grateful for this type of support, which would not be available from other cloud providers. It's easy to get excited and remain committed for the long term.

What were the Azure features that prompted you to decide to build on Azure?

For us, the confidence in Microsoft's enterprise platform was key.  Since we are selling into enterprise clients, standing on Microsoft's long history of reliability gives us a competitive edge we could not gain elsewhere. Combined with seamless integration into Visual Studio, dynamic scalability up and down, superior technical support from Azure experts and cost effective implementation, the complete package is a compelling value proposition.

What specific value are you getting from BizSpark beyond the technology?

We are thrilled to work with Microsoft, a world class company with the brightest minds in the technology industry. Business development is a phenomenal value add. For example, cWyze was selected as one of only four companies in the U.S. to be funded for the Windows Azure Born in the Cloud Demand Generation marketing pilot. We are already enjoying success, and we’re confident that the pilot will drive revenue for cWyze and Azure.

What has been your biggest “aha” moment since founding your company?

Our experience with BizSpark introduced us to the value of partnership with Azure and Microsoft. The opportunity to build mutually successful partnerships that drive revenue in both companies, was an "aha" that continues to inspire us. Microsoft is one of the most successful companies in the world. Its people, who are professional and committed, and frankly, fun to with, are enthusiastic partners with emerging companies like ours. That's a very cool, "aha."

What advice do you have for companies that are thinking about building in the cloud?

For early stage companies, building in Azure should be at the top of your list of infrastructure options. I’m happy to talk with anyone about our Azure experience, and to connect them with their regional expert.

What is the one thing that you would like readers to take away about your Azure app?

In February 2012, 179 million people watched 37 billion videos online. Savvy companies will take advantage of the growing, insatiable demand for video by capturing business intelligence data to drive competitive advantage. cWyze is proud to be the video solution of choice in the Windows Azure Cloud.

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