Interview: Shareagift CTO Jonathan Midgley discusses its VMware cloud

Jonathan Midgley has been an IT entrepreneur since he was 15 years old. The chief technology officer of Shareagift.com sold his first application for £99. Written on the Acorn BBC Micro Model B home computer, the application was designed to help race commentators keep track of riders in the Isle of Man TT motorcycle race.

Jonathan Midgley has been an IT entrepreneur since he was 15 years old. The chief technology officer of Shareagift.com sold his first application for £99. Written on the Acorn BBC Micro Model B home computer, the application was designed to help race commentators keep track of riders in the Isle of Man TT motorcycle race.

In his current job at Shareagift.com, Midgley oversaw the development of the site, which aims to make it easy for groups of people to organise donations for gifts. Shareagift.com is the world's first fully dedicated group gifting website that helps people come together and pool their money to buy gifts for their friends and family.

"We take the pain out of group gifting," he said. "People used to send Facebook messages and receive cheques - it is a convoluted process. Shareagift.com automates the whole process."

The site is the brainchild of Justine Angelli, CEO of Absolute Technology Portfolio (ATP). Shareagift.com is the first online venture to be launched by ATP.

"I grew up on the Isle of Man, which is very forward thinking. At school we had a huge computer lab with BBC Bs," said Midgley.

His early interest in computers led him to study computer science at university. "When I graduated I was lucky enough to start in the industry at a time when PC software was taking office. He gained experience of interfacing PCs to IBM AS/400 mini computers, and by the time Midgley was 24, he headed up a global team of 23 developers at Royal Skandia on the Isle of Man.

But Midgley did not enjoy corporate work, and instead pursued a career working for start-ups.

 

The technology behind Shareagift.com

Shareagift.com is built from the bottom up from Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 R2, Microsoft .Net 4.0, and C#.

"We use Ajax on the front end, CSS3, JQuery and HTML 5.0, which makes the site cross-platform and cross-browser, minimising our testing effort," said Midgley.

Shareagift.com uses a hosted datacentre running VMware, which makes it very scalable and fully load-balanced. When asked about public cloud services, Midgley said: "The downside of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure is that there is a large developer overhead. You cannot simply build an application on a box and move to the cloud. Azure is also very expensive at the moment."

The datacentre is run as a cloud service charged by the day. "We can scale it very quickly. The capacity fits in with how we anticipate the site will grow. It can theoretically scale infinitely by adding memory, storage an processing power," said Midgley. Shareagift.com operates an exact mirror of its developer environment, QA environment and live environment.

He said the licensing of VMware does have an impact on the company's bottom line, but it is "in line with the growth of the business". Moreover, the cloud model means Shareagift.com does not incur upfront capital expenditure.

Midgley said he does not need to worry about the hardware make-up of the datacentre, because it is "at a level of abstraction where the datacentre offers a platform as a service".

 

This was last published in November 2011

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