London Tries Microsoft Azure for Hosting Data Feeds

London's agency for public transportation is using Microsoft Azure to disseminate data feeds for third party applications

By Joab Jackson
Tue, December 14, 2010

IDG News Service — London's government agency in charge of public transportation is using the Microsoft (MSFT) Azure cloud computing platform to host a new set of publicly-available data feeds, Microsoft announced Tuesday.

The Transport for London (TfL) agency is hoping that third-party developers will build mobile and desktop applications that use these data feeds, called Trackernet, which offer rapidly updated information on the current location of subway trains and scheduled trackwork.

The feeds, located at a TfL site for third party developers, were formerly hosted on the agency's own servers. In the new setup, the feeds are relayed from the agency's servers to Azure, where they are made available to the public. The site itself is also hosted on Azure.

The use of Azure will be advantageous in handling not only heavy traffic, but also accommodating large spikes of traffic that may happen when people want updates during snow days and other unusual events, TfL executives said. The system is expected to handle as many as seven million requests per day.

"We are committed to making travel information available to passengers how and when they want it," said Chris MacLeod, TfL's Director of Group Marketing, in a statement. "Trackernet -- which will lead to some new apps ... -- is a great example of how TfL is using new technologies to provide better travel tools for public transport users."

The Trackernet feeds are encoded in XML (Extensible Markup Language) and can be accessed by URL (Uniform Resource Locator) Web addresses and parsed using an XSD (XML Schema Definition), also provided.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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