Jim Harrer


If your website can't respond to spike demands, it's time to consider Windows Azure.

My wife Debbie and I caught the premiere of NBC’s The Biggest Loser the other night. For those that follow the show, Jillian Michaels returns as the senior screamer on the show. I like watching the show because of its use of embedded product placements and am always curious what they’re going to do next.

TheBiggestLoserThis year, The Biggest Loser has a totally redesigned fitness center, with all of the equipment provided by Planet Fitness, a low cost, neighborhood gym model, available as a franchise. They appear to be out lifting 24 Hour Fitness, the previous equipment sponsor on the show.

As the premier was airing with Bob, Jillian and Dolvett beaming over the new gym equipment by Planet Fitness, I decided to visit http://www.planetfitness.com/ to see if anyone had purchased the rights for Central Oregon, where I live. I’ve been a gym goer since I was 14 and have thought about owning a neighborhood gym for the past 20 years. But that is another blog post, I digress.

windows azure on JimHarer dot comWhen I attempted to go to Planet Fitness, their site crashed. The premier had over 1 million viewers; I suspect this was a spike the Planet Fitness IT team may have not expected. I'm sure the sales and marketing team were happy their product placement created demand, yet immediately went into shock when their web site crashed.  I want to suggest a better way. If Planet Fitness would have moved their website to Microsoft Windows Azure Cloud Platform, they could have easily adjusted the amount of computing resources around their original air dates on both east and west coast premiers. Once their website and member portal is converted to take advantage of Windows Azure elasticity, it’s really as easy as logging onto the Azure management portal and moving a slider up and down to allocate more or fewer server instances.  You have the advantage of extra computing resources when you need them without paying for a maximum build out of a datacenter only to be fully utilized when the Biggest Loser airs.

If your business is a B2C (Business to Consumer), and you’re approaching the tipping point, your IT staff should be moving your customer facing web properties into the cloud. IT staff are always resistant to change, especially outside their comfort zone.  This is when you need a team of skills-based consultants who have been there and done that, successfully.

Nimble Development - Windows Azure Experts

Bend, Oregon, based Nimble Development (www.NimbleDev.com) is a team you can trust. They have deployed websites, web applications, tablet applications and mobile applications on Windows Azure. In fact, they were one of the first Microsoft Gold Certified Partners for Windows Azure, working through very early and ever changing Azure SDKs (Software Developer Kits). Nimble Development is competent at Window’s Azure and also has friendships and strong ties to the Windows Azure development team.

Add the fact they’re an Agile development shop, skilled in short SCRUM sprints with results, they move quicker and bill less time. In a word, they’re Nimble. If you’re a growing B2C company, there is no reason you should be hosting your website in a traditional hosting environment that can’t add computing resources when you need them and shrink back down during non-peak periods. This is what Microsoft Azure was designed to do and Nimble Development is the team to help you. I know this sounds like a commercial, it isn’t. I hate to not offer real solutions to my web visitors. If any of you have worked with other teams to move your site to a true cloud platform, please use the comment field below to share your details.

As for Planet Fitness, congratulations on opening your 600th franchise. Now make sure your IT strategy will support it.


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