It’s Christmas Eve and children around the world are anxiously waiting for Santa Claus to slide down their chimney’s with presents from the North Pole. Since a Sears advertisement misprint in 1955, children have tracked Santa’s current location and progress around the world by contacting NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command). For more information and the history of NORAD Tracks Santa, check out the NORAD Tracks Santa Wikipedia article.
This year, NORAD is powering their Santa tracking operation with Microsoft’s Cloud Platform, Windows Azure. As a Windows Azure MVP and running a consultancy (responsiveX) that helps customers build applications with Windows Azure, it is fun when the technology makes it into our non-tech, home lives like this. The massively scalable Windows Azure cloud makes it possible for millions of children around the world to track Santa on Christmas Eve using the web site and the many mobile applications. As you can imagine, the NORAD Santa Tracker has lots of usage on Christmas Eve when millions of children are tracking Santa’s location, but very little usage the other 364 days in the year. Before the Cloud and Windows Azure, handling this kind of spike and load was very costly and difficult to manage. Now with Windows Azure, NORAD and Microsoft can scale this up on-demand, pay only pennies per hour for each server they use, and then scale it back down once Santa is back in the North Pole on Christmas Day. Along with the use of Windows Azure, the NORAD Santa tracker uses Bing Maps, and you can download native Windows 8 and Windows Phone apps from the Windows Store’s. If you are using an iPhone or Android, you can download iOS and Android apps too. Windows Azure not only scales up and down to handle massive numbers of simultaneous users, but it is also a Cloud platform that makes it easy to scale across many platforms and devices, like Windows, iOS and Android.
Check out the NORAD Tracks Santa web site at http://www.noradsanta.org.