Windows Server 2008 is now at RC1. This means we are getting down to the wire when it comes to releasing the product. We've talked to many of you about the product and what it can do and the many new features that are now on offer. With the launch of the product being in February next year I get a lot of questions about customers that are running the product in production. Are there any? Have they seen any issues? Of course many of you that I talk to in Australia want local customers; not overseas ones. Well this is a story about one such customer that has been running Windows Server 2008 right now in production and has seen the benefits this new operating system has to offer firsthand. So with that introduction on to the story.
The customer is Propensity International based in Sydney with another office in Melbourne. In fact they are right in Crows Nest on the North Shore of Sydney which not that far from our office in North Ryde. So what do these guys do? Well essentially they are a software developer and Systems Integrator with a focus on Hosted PABX solutions. They have developed a "Call Centre on Demand" solution utilising our latest technologies; including Windows Server 2008 & IIS 7.0. The solution was developed using Visual Studio Team System 2008. They provide this through Pipevine (a Propensity affiliate). This solution sits on a VOIP platform and provides full call centre functionality.
The Technology Story
Early in 2006 Propensity sent a team of their developers to Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington. They spent 2 weeks in our technology adoption centre working on the design and implementation of some of the new modules they would be using with the newest of our technologies. These include Windows Workflow Foundation and Windows Communication Foundation as well as .NET 3.0 All communications in the application are implemented using WCF as it allows flexibility to make decisions about which protocols, ports, security and indeed compression can be used. And this is all done at deployment time not during the coding process and takes no time to configure making it easy to make changes depending on client requirements. The application has a lot of extensibility and integration points provided by WCF endpoints and custom pluggable workflow's based on the Windows Workflow Foundation. Windows PowerShell is being used extensively to automate management and development processes.
The application itself sits on Windows Server 2008 and IIS 7.0 as the core platform. Propensity saw many benefits by moving so quickly to the 2008 platform. These are outlined later in this article.
- Windows Server 2008 RC0 x86 edition running in a Windows 2003 Domain (soon to be upgraded to RC1)
- Windows Workflow Foundation
- Windows Communication Foundation
- IIS 7.0
- Visual Studio Team System 2008
- Windows Powershell
With any technology adoption and in this case pilot production there have to be some clear business benefits to make it all worthwhile. I've had many meetings and candid discussions with Propensity on how they have found all this new technology and what business benefits they have been seeing as a result of this pilot. Rimantas Malinauskas (Solution Architect) from Propensity International had the following to say about these new technologies:
Visual Studio Team System 2008
"Visual Studio 2008 saves time - It's a better environment that makes developers more productive and allows information to be shared across the team. Visual Studio 2008 also includes most extensions by default whereas the 2005 version had to use a lot of add-ins. Improvements to AJAX and LINQ make a huge difference in terms of coding time."
Windows Server 2008 and IIS 7.0
"In Windows Server 2008, once we began testing IIS 7.0 and measured the difference in our application, it was a no brainer to move over. We halved the response time for our application, which is dramatic. It's very important because it's a real-time application that interfaces with a telephony system. By moving from IIS 6.0 to IIS 7.0 we greatly improved response times. Roundtrip times were reduced from ~1.2s to 0.6s. That was achieved purely by the better performance in the Windows Server 2008 TCP/IP stack and IIS 7.0's new functionality too minimise IIS process pipeline footprint by removing unnecessary modules from the pipeline and merging .NET modules to the IIS processing pipeline."
"By using Powershell we automated application development and management tasks. On the pilot server running Windows Server 2008 and IIS 7.0 we are running over 60 application pools. To set this environment up it only took 10 minutes! Thank you PowerShell!"
We have customers out their doing great things with Windows Server 2008 and our other new technologies. These customers are realizing real business benefits by running their business on the new platform. To summarise what Propensity is doing I see some real benefits they are getting right now.
- Saving developer time!
- Cutting Server Response time in half with Windows Server 2008 and IIS 7.0.
- Automating development and management tasks and saving a whole bunch of time by using Windows PowerShell.
Would you like your story posted here? Please contact me if you are doing heroic things on our new WAVE of 2008 products!