4-page Case Study
Posted: 3/20/2014
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Callaway Golf Golf Company Reduces Costs, Improves Scalability by Moving Servers, Services to the Cloud

Like many companies that faced the global recession of 2009, Callaway Golf decided that it had to cut costs. The IT organization moved many web properties and databases to Microsoft Azure, which delivered more than US$300,000 annually to the company’s bottom line. The use of cloud computing also gave Callaway unprecedented flexibility and scalability in responding to the needs of its global business. By using Microsoft Azure, Callaway can deliver servers to remote offices in hours versus months and scale capacity quickly to ensure great reseller and consumer experiences on Callaway websites. It has also eliminated maintenance downtime that used to plague international offices. Callaway uses Windows Intune to proactively manage sales computers and keep salespeople productive. The company is also evaluating Microsoft hybrid cloud storage as a way to further reduce costs.

Founded in 1982, Callaway Golf has grown from a boutique manufacturer of high-quality wedges and putters into one of the world’s largest makers of premium golf products. The Callaway mission has remained the same: to passionately pursue advanced, innovative technologies that help golfers of all abilities find more enjoyment in the game. Callaway Golf Company manufactures and sells golf clubs and golf balls, and sells golf accessories under the Callaway Golf® and Odyssey® brands worldwide.

Costly, Scattered Data
During the global recession of 2009, most of the company’s IT infrastructure was located in the company’s Carlsbad, California, headquarters, but Callaway also had a sizable third-party colocation datacenter, costing US$30,000 to $40,000 a month, and other servers scattered around the United States.

Callaway knew that its datacenters were filled with dozens of smaller web servers and databases that ran on underutilized hardware, and it had customer data scattered in multiple places. When marketing agencies developed marketing campaigns and promotions for Callaway, they gathered and stored the data on their servers.

* With web properties running in Microsoft Azure, we can scale our infrastructure quickly and proactively and improve customer experiences. *

Dan Cowles
Manager of Solution Development, Callaway Golf

Difficulty Scaling, Availability Challenges

Not only were all the servers expensive to acquire and maintain, but scaling the infrastructure took significant time. “During and after a high-profile golf tournament, there’s a great deal of interest in our product, and our websites receive a lot of hits,” says Dan Cowles, Manager of Solution Development for Callaway Golf. “It was difficult to scale our web hosting environment fast enough, and consumers and resellers could experience slow response times and even downtime.” Another challenge: Callaway conducted weekly server maintenance, which caused downtime for some of its global offices.

Better Manage Field Computers
For client-computer management, Callaway needed to upgrade its older Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 software so that the company could manage newer desktop computers running the Windows 8 operating system. More urgently, Callaway needed a better way to manage its 350 Windows-based laptops used by executives, managers, outside sales representatives (OSRs), and support staff. The OSRs also used Apple iPad tablets.

“The 130 iPads used by our OSRs never come into the office, so it was difficult to update and manage them,” says Bill Connaghan, Global Desktop System Administrator at Callaway Golf. “We didn’t let sales reps download security updates over virtual private network connections because it consumed too much Internet bandwidth.” Callaway used AirWatch software to manage the tablets, but AirWatch did not report when OSRs deployed unauthorized software, which often introduced viruses and rendered the computers unusable. “Our salespeople are our revenue pipeline,” says Connaghan. “If they can’t place orders through their computers, we don’t make money. So it’s critical that their computers be available and responsive with no interruptions.”

Callaway Golf decided that cloud computing could solve just about all these problems. Moving some workloads into a cloud environment—where virtualized compute, storage, and network resources run in public datacenters, are shared by multiple parties, and are delivered over the Internet—could reduce costs, improve scalability and business agility, and enable the desktop management team to manage remote computers.

* It was difficult to scale our web hosting environment fast enough, and consumers and resellers could experience slow response times and even downtime. *

Dan Cowles
Manager of Solution Development, Callaway Golf

Move Websites, Databases, and Web Services to Microsoft Azure

Cowles’s team evaluated cloud offerings from multiple providers and selected Microsoft Azure, the Microsoft cloud platform that provides on-demand compute, storage, content delivery, and networking capabilities from Microsoft datacenters. “The other companies offered infrastructure-as-a-service but not software-as-a-service or platform-as-a-service as Microsoft did,” Cowles says. “We wanted the whole spectrum of cloud options to fit a range of cloud needs. Also, most of our developers are trained in Microsoft tools, so it was much easier for us to connect our in-house systems to Microsoft Azure.”

In 2012, Callaway used its consumer data consolidation project as its first Azure project. It moved all of its scattered consumer data—some 4 million records—into Microsoft Azure SQL Database and created a web tier infrastructure that third parties, such as agencies, could use to easily access the data.

Callaway then moved many consumer-facing websites, enterprise databases, and enterprise web services to Azure. “By using Microsoft global datacenters, we’re able to move infrastructure for key applications and websites closer to the people who use them,” Cowles says. For example, resellers and consumers in Japan and China previously had to use applications that ran in a Texas datacenter, and because of the distance, encountered performance problems. In about an hour, Cowles’s team set up the same services in a Microsoft datacenter in Asia and completely eliminated the performance lags. “It would have been extremely difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to set up this infrastructure on the other side of the world using Callaway-owned servers,” Cowles says.

Callaway currently uses approximately 45 SQL databases, 40 Microsoft Azure Cloud Services applications and services, half a dozen Azure Web Sites, about 30 Azure Storage accounts, and Azure Traffic Manager.

Callaway is backing up mobile computers to the cloud using a third-party software solution that works with Microsoft Azure.

At some point, Callaway plans to migrate its business-to-business (B2B) website to Azure. “This site is used by our retailers to order products, pay invoices, and track orders, and is hosted internally today,” Cowles says.

Callaway would also like to transition its outside sales representatives to Windows 8 tablets that would access line-of-business applications running in Azure.

Manage Mobile Computers with Cloud-Based Solution
With its successful ventures into Microsoft Azure, Callaway decided to use Windows Intune, a cloud-based PC and device management solution from Microsoft, to manage its 350 laptops and tablets. Using Windows Intune, which includes Microsoft System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection, the Callaway desktop management staff can proactively keep all mobile computers up-to-date with security updates, catch malware before it infects computers, and receive notifications of computer health and software installations.

To improve the management of its 850 desktop computers, Callaway is upgrading to Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager. “We’ll have a central authentication server in Carlsbad and deploy secondary servers to global subsidiaries for local computer imaging,” Connaghan says. “Systems Management Server 2003 didn’t support this architecture. We’ll get better visibility into our PC software and hardware, whether those computers are in headquarters or in the field.”

* By using Microsoft global datacenters, we’re able to move infrastructure for key applications and websites closer to the people who use them. *

Dan Cowles
Manager of Solution Development, Callaway Golf

Consider Flexible Hybrid Cloud Storage

With Callaway’s investment in Azure came a StorSimple appliance from Microsoft. The company is considering how it might use the Microsoft hybrid cloud storage system. The on-premises StorSimple appliance interoperates with Microsoft Azure to provide primary storage, backup, archiving, and disaster recovery.

“StorSimple would be a good fit for a couple of scenarios that we see right now,” says Sarwat Siddiqi, IT Infrastructure Manager at Callaway Golf. “The first would be in a small virtualized environment in our DMZ [perimeter network] that runs web servers, email servers, and other external-facing services. We have not clustered the servers in this environment because of storage costs, but StorSimple would give us a lower-cost way to provide storage for a DMZ cluster versus using enterprise SANs [storage area networks].”

A second scenario for StorSimple would be as a way to provide lower-cost storage for the Callaway marketing department to store and back up marketing and media content. “All these videos and images are being stored on expensive SAN arrays, though most are accessed infrequently,” Siddiqi says. “By moving this content to StorSimple, we could have frequently used content on higher-performance storage and less frequently used content stored less expensively in the cloud.”

By integrating Microsoft cloud solutions into its datacenter strategy, Callaway Golf has been able to reduce IT costs by more than $300,000 a year while gaining greater datacenter scalability and datacenter agility. The IT team can respond to server requests in hours instead of months and “turn off” servers when they are no longer needed. With servers running in Microsoft datacenters around the world, Callaway can provide better application performance and availability to offices and customers that are located far from the company’s California datacenter. By managing mobile computers with Windows Intune, Callaway can better protect those critical systems, which are the conduits for millions of dollars in orders.

Reduce Datacenter Costs by More Than $300,000 Annually
The IT organization was able to realize a sizeable savings by moving IT assets to Azure. “We’re down from $30,000 a month for colocation fees to $3,000 a month for the same number of servers in Microsoft Azure,” Cowles says. “That savings goes right to our bottom line. It includes not just servers but also server management time. This is key at a time when we are focused on departmental efficiency. With servers running in Azure, we don’t have to worry about them.”

* We’re down from $30,000 a month for colocation fees to $3,000 a month for the same number of servers in Microsoft Azure. That savings goes right to our bottom line. *

Dan Cowles
Manager of Solution Development, Callaway Golf

Improve Scalability and Agility

Callaway has gained a level of IT scalability and agility that it never before had. “Previously, when our web traffic spiked, we experienced slowdowns,” Cowles says. “With web properties running in Microsoft Azure, we can scale our infrastructure quickly and proactively and improve customer experiences.”

Cowles’s team can respond much faster to requests for IT resources. “With Azure, we can respond to business requests in hours versus the months that it took before,” Cowles says. “It’s especially valuable in responding to requests in non-US regions, because it’s difficult to set up infrastructure in Carlsbad and provide remote access to those applications.”

Enhance Performance and Availability of Core Business Systems
Since moving important pieces of its infrastructure to Azure, Callaway has enjoyed higher overall availability of critical applications and web properties. “With Azure, we no longer have maintenance-related downtime that negatively affects our business around the world,” Cowles says. Additionally, mobile computer data is better protected by backing it up to Azure.

By migrating its business-to-business website to Microsoft Azure, Callaway will eliminate the cost of that on-premises infrastructure and also realize reliability and performance gains. “It’s a lot easier to load-balance virtual machines in Azure than physical servers in our datacenter,” Cowles says. “We can also mitigate the impact of server security updates. By moving the B2B infrastructure to Azure, we can apply updates only to the regional servers that need them without affecting uptime in all of our offices.”

Maintain Revenue Flow by Keeping Salespeoples’ Computers Running
Now that it proactively manages its mobile computers with Windows Intune, Callaway has much better visibility into outside sales representatives’ computers and can keep them up-to-date and safe from malware. “OSRs no longer have to send their computers to headquarters because they’re infected or broken,” Connaghan says. “Now, we get proactive notification if a computer’s virus definitions are out-of-date, the computer is infected, or the OSR has installed unauthorized software. We can fix these problems before they cause a computer to fail in the field.”

As just one example, in the course of accessing the company’s order tool, an OSR computer sometimes replicates massive amounts of data and fills up the hard drive. The OSR would see that his or her computer was slow but wouldn’t report it until it became unusable. Now, the Carlsbad desktop team immediately sees in Windows Intune that the hard drive is filling up and remotely fixes the problem.

“These are high-value people to Callaway,” Connaghan says. “Our outside sales representatives are our revenue source; they are constantly meeting with our customers and taking orders. With Windows Intune watching over their computers, we can keep orders and money flowing into the company.”

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For more information about Callaway Golf products and services, visit the website at:

Solution Overview

Organization Size: 1400 employees

Organization Profile

Callaway Golf Company manufactures and sells golf clubs and golf balls, and sells golf accessories under the Callaway Golf® and Odyssey® brands worldwide.

Business Situation

Callaway needed to trim IT costs and find ways to reconfigure its datacenter to gain more elasticity, scalability, and agility when business surged.


Callaway moved 4 million consumer records and many enterprise databases and websites to Microsoft Azure. The company uses Windows Intune to proactively manage sales laptops.

  • Reduce datacenter costs by more than US$300,000 annually
  • Improve scalability and agility
  • Enhance performance and availability of core business systems
  • Maintain revenue flow by keeping salespeoples’ computers running

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Microsoft Azure SQL Database
  • Windows Intune
  • Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager
  • Microsoft Azure Storage

Vertical Industries
Consumer Goods

United States

Business Need
  • Cloud & Server Platform
  • Service Delivery
  • Cost Containment

IT Issue
Cloud Services