Challenge: Needed deeper understanding of application performance on Windows Azure
Part of Macmillan’s publishing business includes top-of-the-line textbooks, which Macmillan provides to thousands of students around the world. In addition to paper textbooks, Macmillan also offers online course materials and activities to supplement students’ learning. Macmillan’s application teams in the UK are responsible for building, maintaining and supporting applications that are fast and scalable, no matter where in the world its users are.
In order to achieve the global scale required of its applications, Macmillan decided to host them in Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud, with data centers in all of the major areas the company served. By hosting identical versions of the online learning applications in each data center, Macmillan could ensure that students had the same user experience, no matter their location.
Since the architecture of Macmillan's .NET applications was fairly complex, it was difficult to identify performance bottlenecks with the monitoring tools available in Windows Azure. “The monitoring reports in Windows Azure are very high-level,” said James Graham, Project Manager at Macmillan. “We had difficulty determining whether issues were arising in the application or the network, let alone which service they were coming from.” So Graham's team began to look for an application performance management (APM) tool that could give them deeper visibility into their applications in Windows Azure.