Inspire Footballers with Windows Azure


Sounds odd doesn’t it? What has Microsoft, and more importantly, Windows Azure, to influence some great players like Gareth Bale, Craig Bellamy and Aaron Ramsey to inspire to greatness?

A consultancy uses software-as-a-service to develop and improve the Football Association’s training system.

DrillBoard Worldwide, which creates coaching software for football clubs and associations, wanted to use the software-as-a-service model to deliver its product over the Internet. It replaced CD-ROM (Remember them?)
distribution with a subscription-based system using the Windows azure platform. Easy, eh? The company’s first major customer – the Football Association of Wales – aims to sign up every affiliated football coach from amateur level to the national team.

Drillboard offers vital tools for coaches, giving them the resources they need to structure learning and share training plans with players and across teams.

With Windows Azure’s high flexibility helped data storage. By cloud hosting the product, it could provide immediate access to the coaching software using the Windows Azure platform and Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in for writing and running rich Internet applications.

By doing this, DrillBoard, and its president Tim Gentles, has made football coaching software easily and instantly accessible through a browser to thousands more users. Football clubs can now simply sign up and grant licences to all their members and coaches, from top professionals to youth team and amateurs.

Football Association of Wales backs DrillBoard cloud solution

Osian Roberts, Technical Director, Football Association of Wales, says: “DrillBoard really helps us improve coaching at all levels of Welsh football and it’s great that players in local youth teams can share the same system that the first team uses. I would recommend it to any coach, player, or parent.”

Pay-as-you-go financial model minimises upfront investment

With Windows Azure, DrillBoard can offer its customers for football coaching software a highly scalable information-rich service on a pay-as-you-go basis, without any need for capital investment in physical servers.

Cloud-based coaching software encourages sharing of training programmes

The previous way of distributing DrillBoard coaching software—on CD-ROM—made it difficult to create communities of users. Gentles says: “With the Windows Azure platform, it’s much easier to create, save, and share football
training programmes with players and across teams. Our software is much more customised and can build a community of users faster than traditional hosting. Windows Azure also integrates well with social media.”

Windows Azure easily handles bulk increments of users

Traditional hosting solutions can handle steady growth in subscriptions but find it challenging to manage large bulk increments. Gentles says: “Hosters typically require long lead times to purchase and provision extra hardware, but with Windows Azure this can be done in 10 minutes by starting another instance. This means that with Windows Azure, DrillBoard can scale easily while only paying for what it needs.”

Football coaching software reaches a wider market

Through cloud computing, DrillBoard provides a truly global service. Gentles says: “We no longer need to consider investment in physical infrastructure to promote our service around the world. We can go beyond selling to individual coaches and reach out to football organisations, members, and young players.”

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Posted by Steven Woodgate

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