A Soluto for Azure: How An Israeli Social IT Startup Moved to Microsoft Azure

An Israeli startup called Soluto switched to Windows Azure to help it deliver Soluto to more than 3 million PCs worldwide, maintain its market momentum, and uncap its business potential. That's what happens when you win Tech Crunch Disrupt and people fall in love with you.   You can click here to see a full video about the solution.

Soluto Reached for Azure when they realized their new found fame had made the friendly IT solution a hot ticket. Here's the complete Microsoft Israel case study.

Tomer Dvir and Ishay Green have been programming software since before they were teenagers. In 2008, they started a business in the “Silicon Boulevard” area of Tel Aviv, Israel—a hub of technology entrepreneurship—and built an application called Soluto that helps advanced PC users manage and optimize the Windows-based PCs of their friends and family remotely.

“As technology becomes ubiquitous, we want to help people get everything they can out of it,” says Dvir, CEO at Soluto. “We wanted to do it in Tel Aviv, where we could be at the center of all that innovation.”

In May 2010, Dvir and Green publicly launched Soluto at the inaugural TechCrunch Disrupt, a worldwide competition for IT startup companies. Soluto won Best of Show, and suddenly the company was an international thought leader, with media coverage in global outlets such as The New York Times, CNN, and the BBC.

What Made Soluto Different? A Focus On Unsnarling the Consumer IT Confusion

“Everyone at TechCrunch was talking about Facebook plug-ins and Twitter applications, and we showed up with home PC support,” says Roee Adler, Chief Product Officer at Soluto. “But the idea that Soluto could help make people happier with their technology really resonated.”

In the month after TechCrunch Disrupt, almost 1 million people downloaded Soluto. As people use Soluto, it collects information about the PCs they work on and then analyzes and presents that data for use in managing other PCs, which requires a lot of computing capacity. The company supported Soluto with a hosted environment running Microsoft SQL Server data management software and Amazon Web Services, but the system failed under the sudden demand. “Our server environment couldn't scale up fast enough,” says Adler. “We needed a better, more flexible solution, but we still wanted to avoid the risk of a big IT investment.”

An Azure Solution

The Soluto team wanted to power the application with cloud technology. Having already used the cloud-based Amazon Web Services, it also evaluated other cloud environments, including Windows Azure, the Microsoft cloud set. 

The team expected that transferring a live application to the cloud would be challenging, and it quickly determined that it could support Soluto most effectively with Windows Azure. “Because we could work with familiar tools such as the Microsoft .NET Framework and Microsoft Visual Studio, we knew that we could get to market much faster with Windows Azure than we would with Amazon,” says Adler.  You can click here for a video about this case study.

Soluto users now connect to Windows Azure through a web browser and use Soluto to connect remotely with any PC, while the application automatically collects anonymous information about the computer. “We collect usage data from every Soluto-managed computer to generate information that helps Soluto users quickly optimize the PCs they work on,” says Adler. “But only technical information is gathered into Windows Azure, and no Soluto user has access to anyone’s personal data.”

Soluto users can remotely diagnose PC problems, add updates, or install applications, often in a few mouse-clicks and with no action required by the user. “From any location, I can update my mother’s Windows Media Player, turn on her firewall, or install Skype on her PC,” says Adler. “If her PC is off, the command will be stored on Windows Azure and executed when she turns the machine on.”

Soluto uses Windows Azure table storage to save PC data, deliver it to users, and process it with data from other machines. Soluto users generate tens of millions of data transactions every day, making Soluto one of the largest consumers of Windows Azure resources among startups worldwide.

Benefits of Windows Azure

By adopting Windows Azure, Soluto solved its scaling issues so it could offer a powerful tool to PC users, maintain its market momentum, and uncap its business potential.

Complete Elasticity, Endless Scalability

The Soluto team uses Windows Azure to support a powerful tool that allows users to connect to and optimize PCs with the help of a broad peer-usage database, so everybody can benefit from the skills and knowledge of the broader PC community. “With Windows Azure, we gave Soluto the power to deliver an advanced user experience to every PC user,” says Adler.

After migrating to Windows Azure, Soluto grew rapidly. By October 2011, the application had 3 million downloads. Demand can spike by as much as 30 million transactions per day, but the Soluto team can quickly and easily scale Windows Azure to avoid any break in service. “With Windows Azure, we have complete elasticity and endless scalability,” says Dvir. “We are ready to serve any peak in consumer demand.”

Business Focus

By choosing Windows Azure over Amazon or other cloud services, the Soluto team could build on its initial momentum by moving the application to the cloud in just a few months. “With Windows Azure we did not have to learn new development tools—or build a server infrastructure—so we could stay focused on the unique value we offer,” says Dvir.

Soluto is still developing a revenue structure. But with Windows Azure, the team has the capacity and flexibility to serve its global user base and maintain its high-profile industry position in the meantime. “Using Windows Azure, we have the capacity to process hundreds of terabytes of data,” says Dvir. “That releases our growth potential and gives us the agility to watch the market evolve, learn from our customers, enhance our products, and develop a profitable model.”

Here's a whole list of videos of Soluto during their heady TechCrunch Disrupt days.

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