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IT trends spotted and checked by experts

IT director at Domino's Pizza

In 2011, Colin Rees joined Domino's Pizza - the largest pizza delivery company in the UK & Ireland with 720 stores - as IT director. His career began in 1987 with Argos PLC where he started as a Project...


Scalability in the cloud

24 Feb, 2012 08:55 am

With our rapidly growing e-commerce and in-store business, we needed to design an IT architecture that was flexible enough to scale with us, and we chose a hosted cloud computing setup.

What is the main business driver for your organization when moving to the Cloud?
Reduced time to market
Reduced cost
Operational efficiencies
Improved customer demand
Domino's is currently generating 43 per cent of its business online - by 2015, we want it to be two-thirds. We're opening new stores at a rate of 60 per year and online orders are accounting for an increasingly large proportion of our business. We need our IT to support this.

This expansion in our business has put a lot of pressure on our internal IT function. When I looked at the strategy, I really wanted our internal team to focus on things that added value. We needed partners to help us deal with the other areas.

We undertook some key changes. Last summer we moved aspects of our IT to three new suppliers - one for hosting, one for the supporting wide area network (WAN) and one for another project involving a refresh of in-store electronic point of sale (EPOS) systems.

In July last year, Domino's began introducing a managed and integrated cloud hosting service for key applications. This gave us a scalable and cost-effective platform. The platform went live in October. Hosted applications include the public-facing e-commerce site as well as the online payment gateway, corporate email and back-office systems, and our intranet.

Meanwhile, our network is managed under a three year arrangement. The WAN delivers fast connectivity between all of our UK and Ireland stores, with a future-proof stable infrastructure that allows us to introduce more complex applications.
The decision for cloud computing
We could have continued to handle these systems in-house, but it was clearly much more effective for us to outsource certain aspects. We needed to make sure that our online business could continue to meet the needs of an increasingly technology-savvy, pizza hungry audience.

The new setup gives us the flexibility we needed to cover each aspect of our business - for example, business applications that require a particularly high level of security, such as an internal email system, can be hosted on highly secure dedicated physical hardware.

We were impressed by the broad UK reach of our WAN provider. We are able to tap into their rich pool of technology and solutions to create a resilient back office, and to cover all of our stores with a single technology solution.

Mobile commerce - the new growth area The new cloud computing setup has allowed Domino's internal IT department to be freed up, so we can focus on more innovative activities, such as growing mobile commerce - which now represents 14 percent of our online orders.

We have launched iPad, iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7 mobile ordering apps. The high level of security and configurability we have in the cloud, as well as the on-demand scalability, give us the ability to deliver the new smartphone and tablet applications. In addition, we are able to scale up by adding new virtual servers to handle increased traffic resulting from digital marketing campaigns.
How IT is viewed at Domino's
Technology is regarded as a critical tool for staying ahead of the competition and it is fully embedded into our company's business processes - we first launched online ordering over 10 years ago. The new systems we have implemented support our growth, while at the same time allowing our IT team to innovate.

We know that the faster and easier it is for customers to order and receive their pizza, and the better the service they get, the sooner they will come back to us. Good technology is vital to this.