As a native Illinoisan, I know that the Taste of Chicago is a big deal! It is the largest outdoor food and music festival in the world, and is attended by more than 3 million people each year. If you like food and music, this is a festival for you!

West Monroe Partners

This past year, the City of Chicago needed to quickly build out an interactive map for the event – and when I say quickly, I mean it. They needed an interactive mapping experience built and deployed in less than 10 days. To help make this a reality, the City of Chicago turned to a very capable Microsoft partner, West Monroe Partners (WMP), for assistance.

The challenges here were pretty clear:

  • Build an interactive and immersive website in less than 10 days.

  • The website needed to scale massively for the event, but once the event was over they wanted to scale the infrastructure down.

  • WMP wanted to leverage their existing skills and tools.

WMP proposed the following – an immersive Silverlight Deep Zoom experience running on Windows Azure (if you’re not familiar with Deep Zoom, take a look at the Hard Rock memorabilia site). You can still visit the Taste of Chicago interactive map – check it out:

Taste of Chicago interactive map

The Windows Azure Platform – which I’ve discussed many times on my blog – is Microsoft’s cloud platform. It is comprised of the following: Windows Azure, an operating system as a service; SQL Azure, a fully relational database in the cloud; and .NET Services, consumable web-based services that provide both secure connectivity and federated access control for applications.

The City of Chicago’s decision to go with Silverlight and Windows Azure provided a host of very tangible benefits, including:

  • Fast, cost-effective development

  • Immediate customer satisfaction

  • Increased agility

  • Dynamic user experience

In fact, this is broken down in detail in the Taste of Chicago case study with WMP and the City of Chicago.

Additionally, Erik Brown – technical lead at WMP – spoke to Microsoft about their experience building the interactive map in Silverlight and on Windows Azure. I definitely recommend you take a look:

Windows Azure


A really great story about how a capable partner can leverage innovative technology to not only dazzle a customer, but provide a valuable service for millions of users.

I hope this helps!

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