Pizza chain improves online ordering and IT efficiency by switching 10,000 store servers to Hyper-V
When it comes to pizza, Domino’s Pizza delivers in a big way: the chain delivers more than 1 million hot pizzas to customers worldwide every day, and it generated sales of more than US $7.4 billion in 2012.
To keep things running smoothly at its approximately 8,000 stores worldwide, Domino’s has a proprietary point-of-sale (POS) system called Domino’s Pulse, used for everything from inventory to order taking to staff scheduling. Between its growing dependence on Domino’s Pulse and an increase in online orders, Domino’s found that its store server uptime had become absolutely critical to the business. “We lose money and potentially customers when a store computer is down,” says Lance Shinabarger, Vice President of Global Infrastructure for Domino’s Pizza. “We had to figure out how to improve the stability of our store environment.”
The IT staff decided to put a second server in each store for backup. However, store employees are pizza makers, not IT pros, and Domino’s needed a solution that its Ann Arbor, Michigan–based corporate IT staff could manage without troubling store employees. The IT staff rolled out a data center virtualization solution to nearly 5,000 US stores in 2007, but there were still challenges. The Domino’s Pulse virtual machine would not start in the morning after the physical computer restarted, which slowed store startup and generated scores of help-desk calls.
In 2011, Domino’s finally found the right solution: the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system, which comes with built-in Hyper-V virtualization technology. For Domino’s, Hyper-V was not only cost-effective, but it also performed better than other solutions. Also, Domino’s already used Microsoft System Center solutions, and knew it could take fuller advantage of those tools by using Hyper-V.
To date, Domino’s is running Hyper-V on 1,500 servers in US stores and a few dozen internationally. The Domino’s central IT staff uses System Center to manage all US store servers from Ann Arbor and System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 to monitor the health and performance of all servers, the applications running on them, and the network connections to them.
So far, Domino’s has seen significant improvements in store-server reliability and performance with Hyper-V, which translates into fewer interruptions to online orders and revenue. Domino’s franchisees, too, are high on Hyper-V. “The switch to Hyper-V has translated into an improved online ordering experience for our customers, who are number one to us,” says Shane Casey, a Domino’s Pizza franchise owner in San Diego and Los Angeles, California.
Domino’s has also been able to achieve impressive server management efficiencies. “I have two people managing 15,000 computers,” Shinabarger says. “That’s a heck of a lot higher than the traditional 1:200 [server administrator to server] ratio.” And by taking advantage of its Microsoft licensing agreements, Domino’s has been able to save money on software licensing. “From pricing to management, performance, and reliability gains, Hyper-V has been a huge win for Domino’s,” says Shinabarger.
- Better reliability and performance of store servers improves online-ordering process
- Increased IT efficiency reduces management costs
- Lower licensing costs helps boost franchisees’ bottom lines