At the recent Foundercon, the private networking event hosted by TechStars, I was fortunate enough to meet Andrew Stein, VP of Development at Distil and an alumni of TechStars Cloud Accelerator.

Written by Allan Da Costa Pinto. Allan is a Technical Evangelist who works with startups and software developers in the northeastern US to build apps for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Windows Azure


Andrew and team have built a set of services around various back end cloud technologies to offer clients the ability to “Protect your website against web scraping, content theft, competitive data mining, and more, without impeding your end-user,” he says.

To improve their algorithms, Distil collects vast amounts of data to query for trends and analyze usage patterns. Since going live in April 2012, they have faced an ever-increasing data explosion problem. “At one point, we had tons of logs on a single mysql instance.” With a very small team focused on their core competencies, Andrew didn’t have much time to research and ramp on new technologies to solve his data problem.

By his own admission, Andrew is definitely a non-Microsoft technologist, “I know very little .NET”, he said. “We do a lot of perl and PHP.”

By virtue of being enrolled in Microsoft’s BizSpark Plus program, Andrew did have access to hours of free cloud computing on Windows Azure and was able to see an opportunity to simplify his data problem. He was able to use Windows Azure SQL Database and Azure Blobs and Queues, to offload, process and query the data in a cost effective and efficient manner. Given his background with mysql, Windows Azure SQL Database proved very familiar to Andrew and he realized the benefits of not having to worry about up time, data replication and management of this solution built on Windows Azure. In his words, “Microsoft manages those details.”

BizSpark Plus “makes it really easy to jump on Windows Azure,” said Andrew. “We keep building on it!” Not bad for a non-Microsoft guy who knows very little .NET.

If you are building highly scalable solutions or unlocking business value from huge volumes of distributed data, consider Windows Azure!

P.S. Andrew has done some cool things with connecting his Ubuntu based VMs and Windows Azure, he intends to blog about it on the distil.it blog, stay tuned!