Microsoft: Azure worked well during Miss HK voting

In an exclusive interview with Asia Cloud Forum on Tuesday, Chin-Tang Chin, Microsoft Hong Kong's director of developer and platform evangelism group addressed some of the most common concerns about the set- up of the platform behind the Miss Hong Kong 2012 voting app that was disrupted Sunday night.

He also explained the intricacies of building a truly scalable application, and why Microsoft couldn't auto-provision more server capacities to cater to the humongous Internet requests that battered the voting application.

Asia Cloud Forum: How was the cloud platform set-up for TVB Miss Hong Kong 2012 voting system different from that of TVB Fun?

Chin Tang Chin: Voting on TVB Fun is a three-step process: user log in, TV program selection, and vote casting. As for TVB's Miss Hong Kong voting exercise held last Sunday, the application workflow was simplified for the audiences -- it required one to just input his/her Hong Kong identity card number and a winner pick.

[Editor's note: Voting for TVB's Miss Hong Kong 2012 could be done via a web application and a mobile application. Chin didn’t specify whether it was the web application or the mobile application, or both when referring to the "voting application". In a brief interview with Asia Cloud Forum, Cherry Picks' CEO Jason Chiu clarified that his company was responsible for building the mobile application, but declined to name the party that built the web application. Users experienced "server error" on both voting applications.]

From IT's point of view, the voting system design was no different from that of TVB Fun -- Windows Azure was still used as the underlying cloud computing platform, and an application was written on top to collect the audiences’ voting information.Of course, the exact business flow tailored for Miss Hong Kong was slightly different from TVB Fun's.

The Miss Hong Kong voting application was jointly developed by TVB and Cherry Picks while Microsoft provided technical support with the underlying cloud platform [Windows Azure]. We also have provided Cherry Picks with some guidance including Microsoft's global technology documents MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) for developing a scalable application on Azure.

However, Microsoft may not have complete information on the project because the company wasn’t involved in developing the voting application. Technology is part of the entire app design process during which a company has to take many business-related issues into consideration. This is all the truer when it comes to the development of a scalable app that can handle huge traffic volume.

ACF: How much server capacity was provisioned for the TVB Miss Hong Kong 2012 voting exercise? Was it designed to cater to serve 50K-100K voters?