Domino’s Pizza makes and delivers more than 1 million pizzas a day worldwide. Its store servers are critical to receiving orders, taking payments, scheduling staff, and every other aspect of store operation. The pizza giant plans to switch its 10,000 US store servers to the Hyper-V virtualization technology in Windows Server 2008 R2 to eliminate reliability and performance problems it experienced with its previous virtualization solution. Since moving its first 1,500 servers to Hyper-V, Domino’s has seen virtualization-related help-desk calls and performance glitches practically disappear, which removes barriers to taking orders and serving customers. By taking advantage of its Microsoft license, Domino’s has a cost-effective virtualization solution. Domino’s uses Microsoft System Center data center solutions to manage 15,000 servers with only two people, a huge efficiency achievement.
Domino’s Pizza is a recognized world leader in pizza delivery. It ranks among the world’s top public restaurant brands, with a global network of more than 10,200 stores in more than 70 international markets. In terms your stomach can understand, Domino’s delivers more than 1 million cheesy, delicious pizzas a day to hungry customers all over the world, generating sales of more than US$7.4 billion in 2012. It’s estimated that the Domino’s system employs more than 205,000 franchise and corporate employees across the United States.
Domino’s has long used technology to fuel business growth and customer convenience. It is consistently among the top five companies in online transactions and today receives one-third of all US orders over the Internet. Domino’s diverse mobile ordering apps let customers order from 80 percent of the world’s smartphones.
As online orders poured into the company’s store computers in rising volumes, it became increasingly critical that those computers be up and running to receive them. “In the early days, computers were secondary to our business,” says Lance Shinabarger, Vice President of Global Infrastructure for Domino’s Pizza. “Every store had a small server—a PC, really—that ran our green-screen point-of-sale system. If a store system went down, it wasn’t a big deal; the staff could continue to take orders on paper. Sometimes a store server was down for a week, but the business rolled on without it.”
However, in 2000, Domino’s developed a proprietary point-of-sale (POS) system called Domino’s Pulse that replaced the green-screen system with a powerful, graphical interface-based program that computerized nearly all aspects of store operation, from inventory to order taking to staff scheduling. Employees grew so dependent on Domino’s Pulse that many could not function without it. If the computer went down, some stores actually closed their doors.
Between the rising dependence on Domino’s Pulse and the increase in online orders, Domino’s store server uptime became absolutely critical to the business. “We lose money and potentially customers when a store computer is down,” Shinabarger says. “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 were pizza makers, not IT pros, and it was painful and time-consuming for them to grapple with switching Domino’s Pulse to the backup computer, especially in the middle of a rush of orders. Domino’s needed a solution that its Ann Arbor, Michigan–based IT staff could manage without troubling store employees.
The IT staff decided to use virtualization. Domino’s had already proven the success of server virtualization in its data center and achieved phenomenal results in server consolidation, increased server utilization, and faster server deployment. The IT staff realized that virtualization might also hold the answer for store-computer reliability.
In 2007, Domino’s extended its data center virtualization solution to its nearly 5,000 US stores. It still maintained two physical servers in each store but ran its Domino’s Pulse POS on a virtual machine inside the primary server. If that server failed, the Ann Arbor staff could easily and remotely “float,” or transfer, the virtual machine to the backup server.
While this solution worked, 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. The virtualization software also consumed lots of compute power, which caused performance and stability to suffer during peak periods, such as Super Bowl Sunday, when pizza orders came in fast and furious.
Domino’s use System Center 2012 Configuration Manager to deploy applications and software updates to all 15,000 servers and to 2,000 client devices in the company. Domino’s also plan to upgrade store servers to the Windows Server 2012 operating system to take advantage of increased disk I/O, easier virtual machine live migration, and faster disaster recovery.
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Find out how Domino’s met their requirements by viewing the Case Study here