Our Thinking
Proving Puddings – a real life example of cloud power
27 August 2012 | Posted by Stephen Mahood

We’ve all heard a lot about the power of the cloud and how it brings benefits of flexibility, speed and reduced cost to the organisation. Well, you never know until you’ve done it yourself. Now I do and can verify that the cloud really does make a huge difference! Here’s my story:

A problem arose at one of our public sector clients. The client wanted to integrate a third party API in a widget on a CMS deployment, but the problem was that the API was rather primitive. (For the technically-minded among you, it didn’t support JSONP or CORS, and Same-Origin Policy meant that without either of those features, they couldn’t call the service).

I was drafted in at this point to solve this JavaScript issue. My recommendation was to write a small proxy that would either site alongside the solution (or inside it for that matter) or provide JSONP support. This was done, and the result was deployed to the CMS server. However, the server (residing inside the client’s security boundaries) couldn’t call out to the proxy-wrapped third party API, and for various complicated reasons, it proved impossible to get further firewall exceptions approved. However, the client did have access to an exempt domain they could associate with an external service.

So we had two options. The first was for Kainos to host the service. The second was to host it in the cloud – and I was really keen to try this out. So I put the teeny-tiny proxy service up on my personal Azure account, tested it and pointed the C-NAME on the DNS to the Azure site. And it worked!

Our client approved it, and has now purchased an Azure subscription of its own. We’re now in the process of moving the proxy and Azure app name/domain over to that account. The reserved instance priced at $0.08 per hour (~$57 per month) is required to allow us to add custom domains and get by the firewall restriction. The current setup is a single reserved VM instance but the client has the option – should anyone believe that this tiny widget on a single page of the site requires an extra SLA guarantee – to move that pretty slider on the Azure management portal upwards.

So there it is: faster, cheaper and very, very satisfying to all involved!

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