In contrast to Amazon's infrastructure-as-a-service approach, Microsoft is layering Windows tools and services atop an easy-to-build cloud infrastructure.
The Outback Steakhouse chain offers an appetizer, the Bloomin’ Onion, a large Vidalia onion cut to resemble the petals of a flower, dipped in egg batter and deep-fried, then served with a dip. The Bloomin’ Onion has almost as many calories as the fatted calf and, if anything, is more popular.
Outback wanted to promote its restaurants in a way that would encourage visitors in the midst of a recession, but the company lacked a marketing budget late in the year to fund the usual campaign. Instead, Outback created a Facebook application that gave away a coupon for a Bloomin’ Onion in exchange for the email address and zip code of the applicant. By getting the zip code, Outback was able to follow up and offer guidance on the nearest Outback restaurant to the coupon holder.
The application was created and run in Microsoft’s Azure cloud while it was still in technology preview last year during October and November. The Outback marketers were hoping for a low-cost, viral campaign to increase traffic to the restaurants. Once appetites were whetted with the Bloomin’ Onion, customers would be sure to spend. They included a "share this offer with friends on Facebook" button.
The short-term campaign had the goal of distributing 500,000 coupons by the end of 2009. In its fifth week of existence, it passed the 670,000 mark. Prior to the C# and Azure toolkits that Microsoft made available for developing Facebook apps last year, it would have been harder for Outback to quickly create and launch the coupon promotion. With the right tools, an application could be produced quickly and deployed to leverage another cloud application.
“You want to be a marketer, not a racker and stacker or a plumber. In this sort of thing, the cloud can be extremely useful,” said Abraham Pachikara, Microsoft’s U.S. cloud computing adoption lead, in a talk at the Cloud Computing Conference & Expo in Santa Clara, Calif., last week.
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security EnterpriseTo learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
2017 State of IT ReportIn today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.