You can find Windows Azure-based showcase applications at http://www.windowsazure.com. Since there isn’t an industry type category, I listed cloud applications for the public sector below, including governments, healthcare and education. This list is not complete but I will try to update periodically.
If you’d like to get started with Windows Azure application development, download Windows Azure SDK, and sign up for a Free Windows Azure Trial Account. If you are interested in creating a Windows Phone app, download Windows Phone SDK. To create web applications, download WebMatrix.
Government and Citizen-Related Apps
Democracy Live helps make ballots and election materials available electronically for all American citizens, including military and overseas voters and voters with disabilities. After initially building its LiveBallot software on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud platform, Democracy Live switched to Windows Azure from Microsoft. The company found that Windows Azure programming is well supported by the robust Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 development system, and Windows Azure offers security and stability features that simplify development. In the 2010 elections, 250 local jurisdictions used LiveBallot, and they were able to markedly increase the participation of voters who live overseas or who have disabilities, while simultaneously reducing the cost of distributing voter materials and conducting elections.
Researchers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA/JPL) wanted to solve two different challenges—providing public access to vast amounts of Mars-related exploration images, and engaging the public in activities related to NASA’s Mars Exploration Program in order to encourage learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Using a variety of technologies, NASA/JPL created its new BeAMartian Web site. The site provides entertaining and engaging ways to view and interact with information delivered by Mars-based rovers and orbiters. The goal is to let the public participate in exploration, making contributions to data processing and analysis. It also provides a platform that lets developers collaborate with NASA on solutions that can help scientists analyze vast amounts of information that can be used to understand the universe and support future space exploration.
Located in Arlington, Virginia, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is an executive branch of the United States Department of Defense that strives to find new technologies that help support operations for the Navy and Marine Corps. Faced with a lengthy and expensive research and development process, the Disruptive Business Technologies office at ONR wanted to explore new ways to rapidly deploy new capabilities to military personnel. The organization worked with Inca X and other technology partners to implement a proof-of-concept, cloud service-based solution that is built on Windows Azure and interoperates with smartphones, encryption technologies, and other off-the-shelf products. As a result of the project, ONR demonstrated its ability to rapidly develop and deploy new capabilities, found a cost-effective solution, and improved its ability to deliver innovative solutions.
Synteractive is a Washington, D.C.–based strategy and business solution provider with expertise in public sector projects, including the Obama administration’s Recovery.gov web initiative. Synteractive saw a market opportunity for social networking software that could be used to interact with very large audiences. It designed such an application, which it called SocialRally , by using the Windows Azure platform and Microsoft TownHall social networking technology. The solution, which offers a standards-friendly website, also works with Windows Phone 7 and other mobile devices. SocialRally is a highly scalable, cost-effective application that provides organizations with rich channels for interacting with and receiving real-time feedback from very large user audiences and that has broad private- and public-sector appeal.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 136,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services. The company wanted to help its customers obtain the benefits of cloud computing, while balancing security, privacy, and confidentiality concerns. The company used Windows Azure to develop the Thundercloud™ design pattern, which integrates on-premises infrastructure with compute, storage, and application services in the cloud. Now, Lockheed Martin can provide its customers with vast computing power, enhanced business agility, and reduced costs of application infrastructure, while maintaining full control of their data and security processes.
Healthcare Related Apps
To support the implementation of healthcare reform and cope with decreasing budgets, healthcare providers need to find new ways of estimating patient demand and planning institutional development. In 2010, KMS, a provider of data warehouse solutions for the healthcare industry, used Microsoft SQL Azure to help create EYE ON HEALTH, a centralized database that delivers comprehensive healthcare information to hospitals across Germany. With EYE ON HEALTH, KMS will enhance patient care and make healthcare management more efficient.
Gluten, a grain-based protein common in a modern diet, can cause health problems for a small but growing number of people who have sensitivities to it, including those with celiac disease. To help consumers who had trouble finding and buying gluten-free products, as well as to provide helpful information, one of the world’s leading food companies, General Mills created a direct-to-consumer retail channel that is hosted on the Windows Azure platform and was designed using Microsoft development and ecommerce products. By working with solution provider BrandJourney Venturing, the new General Mills business channel—called Gluten Freely—has resulted in rapid consumer adoption and enthusiasm.
Siemens—a global powerhouse in electronics and electrical engineering, operating in the industry, energy and healthcare sectors—has built a worldwide reputation for innovation and technical achievement. Siemens IT Solutions and Services developed a system for remote service of more than 80,000 devices worldwide. An additional service enables its users to distribute software packages to devices spread around the globe through virtual private network connections. To make these software updates and installations more efficient, reduce costs, and deliver more complex software packages to more devices, Siemens is now able to use the Windows Azure™ platform for devices directly connected to the Internet. The company now can dynamically scale its global software distribution, while reducing costs, enhancing services, and avoiding significant new capital investment.
Education Related Apps
Curtin University in Perth, Australia, offers students a lifelong web-based resource called iPortfolio that supports reflective learning while students are at university and provides a useful job-hunting tool after they graduate. To permanently host the ever-growing amount of iPortfolio data was a daunting storage challenge for Curtin IT staff, and their original solution was expensive and difficult to scale. With the help of Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Intergen, the university has moved iPortfolio data and computing resources to the Windows Azure platform. By moving to a cloud-based platform, Curtin has reduced data storage costs, simplified IT resource planning, streamlined development, and enabled exciting enhancements to the iPortfolio application.