Azure’s allure – for supermodels, businesses and consumers

Think about cloud computing as a car rental service. If you have family visiting for two weeks, would you buy a car for them to use while they’re in town? And would that car then sit on your driveway until the next visit? No, of course you rent a car for them to use while visiting. The cloud is a bit like renting a car, only for the world of computing power. It’s a new way to put the power of technology at your fingertips, flexibly and on demand.Microsoft recently announced the availability of the public cloud Windows Azure Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas). This is a service that allows enterprises, start-ups, entrepreneurs and developers to put applications they’ve already built into the cloud, giving them the flexibility of cloud computing power without having to go to the trouble and expense of creating new applications.

It is a major step forward in a quiet revolution within technology which is affecting all of us in one way or another. Cloud computing is a growing trend. For example, using Hotmail to access email or SkyDrive to store documents and photos are two classic consumer uses of cloud computing. What is less visible to most of us are the huge benefits to everyone when businesses use the massive computing power of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server.One (rather glamorous) company using the new Microsoft Azure cloud service is Storm Model Management – one of the world’s leading model agencies, managing some of the biggest names in the fashion industry including Kate Moss, Lily Cole and Emma Watson. It provides online portfolios for between 400 and 500 models, each with up to 40 high-quality images, on its website – its shop window to the world.

Storm Model Management - Azure
Storm Model Management – Azure

Storm Model Management moves to Azure


Storm had an urgent need to improve access to its website and other tools that its customers use to search for models. The site was attracting 5,000 visitors every day and needed to cope better with huge spikes in visitors at certain points in the year such as London Fashion Week. Since Storm moved the website and booking apps onto Windows Azure, visitors to the site can get to the pages they want so much quicker, thanks to the processing power available from Azure. In fact model bookers have found it is 13 times faster and US visitors – a key audience for Storm – can browse the main website 77 per cent faster. And faster access for customers means a better experience, which in turn means they stick around longer. All that adds up to more potential bookings for Storm models.Small businesses are also benefitting from cloud services. The cloud lets entrepreneurs access top-class technology, enables them to more efficiently get ideas off the ground and develop new ones. In an environment where agility and speed of innovation matters more than ever, cloud computing can give businesses a real competitive advantage. A lot of the applications that we use every day, whether from our desktops, laptops, tablets or smartphones, whether from home, work or on the move, are created and powered using cloud technology, allowing a better, more seamless experience for all of us.