Eagle Boys Soars with Microsoft Azure

Last year, we announced the launch of our Microsoft Azure Geo in Australia. This was a huge moment for Microsoft in Australia, and we’re already seeing our customers using the platform to transform their business for the mobile-first, cloud-first world.

We caught up with Darryn Parker, IT Manager & Digital Enabler, Eagle Boys to discuss how the company is changing its business with Microsoft Azure, and why it’s doing away with the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) model in favour of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) to increase the bottom line.

Q: Aside from your pizzas, what sets Eagle Boys apart from other players in the market?

A: At Eagle Boys, we’re very proud to be an Australian brand and we think this is a key differentiator for us. We aim to be very community orientated, speaking more to the local market than we do nationally. At any stage, we have up to 3,500 employees working for the Eagle Boys’ and by engaging with communities on a personal level we’re able to provide franchisees with the support they need to be a success in their market.

Essentially, our goal is to be Australia’s preferred choice in food franchising. The way we want to achieve that is by giving the best quality, delicious food, by delivering the best customer service, and engaging locally.

Q: When people think pizza, they don’t think technology – or more specifically cloud. What impact does it have on your business?

A: Without technology we’d have no business. Without an active cloud-hosted e-commerce platform we’d have no business. Without a dedicated digital team pushing online sales we’d have no business. Technology is absolutely critical to what we do, and it’s enabling us to interact with customers in new ways to drive brand loyalty, identify upsell opportunities, and reduce our operational costs.

No food retail sector has embraced online ordering quite like the pizza industry. To Eagle Boys, one online order is worth 1.5 offline orders due to the fact we’re able to better control the customer experience – from tailoring the service based on our previous interactions with that customer to drive loyalty, through to controlling the paths of purchase, such as delivery methods and extras.

Furthermore, online ordering frees up staff time to focus on making pizzas rather than answering the phone, while every 10 per cent increase of online orders require one to two less telephones being paid for by the store.

Being able to run this experience through a reliable and scalable cloud platform is beyond essential for our business. To underline its importance, a 30 minute outage during peak trading could result in a loss of tens of thousands of dollars for the business.

Q: What role does Microsoft Azure play in managing your network of franchisees?

A: First and foremost, it allows us to manage our franchisees’ IT environment from one central location, which delivers huge advantages. It means we can ensure the IT stack inside the store conforms with the standard operating environment, and it means new staff and stores can easily be on-boarded to the network. The great advantage of using Microsoft Azure at Eagle Boys is that you don’t have to build a whole new business from scratch. You simply need to plug into the platform and your business is off and running.

Working from a central network also empowers us to stay engaged with our franchisees and source continual feedback on what they’re seeing in their market and how we can support them. Similarly, our partners Microsoft and Data #3 do a great job managing our IT environment, allowing us to spend time concentrating on our customer experience.

Q: Eagle Boys have been a long-standing Microsoft cloud customer. How else is it being used within your business?

A: Eagle Boys is the perfect candidate for cloud computing. We’ll do the vast majority of our transactions within a 10 hour block during the week, and we have busiest periods on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Therefore, the ability to scale up and down our cloud services and pay accordingly is a huge advantage for our business, fiscally and operationally. We’re essentially reducing the risk profile of our infrastructure by not having it available when it’s not needed.

Now that we have migrated to Microsoft’s Australian Geo, we are on track to achieve the savings that we had originally planned. These savings come from enhanced production and hosting capabilities. This also gives us the ability to engage with and lean on service providers who are specialists in their respective sectors – such as Office 365, network and application monitoring, and log-in. This approach, which we’ve never done before, allows us to outsource the support and runtime and the production support of the environment to other vendors, and the Australian Geo will give us more flexibility on who our partners can be.

Q: How was the transition Australian Azure Geos?

A: We partnered with Readify to perform a ‘lift and shift’ migration from our existing host provider, which was around 20-odd virtual machines, which have been redeployed on the Azure environment. We are now in the process of consuming the PaaS offerings from Microsoft Azure

We also moved our SQL databases. Eagle Boys will be unequivocally PaaS, and it will be embedded into our code base. Using Microsoft Azure means we will not need to worry about operating systems or how much space we’re consuming. Our IT systems will just work, and we can focus on making and delivering great pizza via a superior user experience.

The December migration was completely seamless. There was zero downtime and zero lost orders for the business. We have already seen an increase in response times at the end-user side and an overall smoother user experience.

A proof of concept with for our e-commerce platform was also recently undertaken in Microsoft’s Azure region in Singapore, where we were particularly impressed with the ease at which the deployment took place. Therefore, this is another area we may look to use Microsoft’s cloud services locally.

Q: Eagle Boys is doing some great stuff with cloud. Why did you choose Microsoft Azure?

A: The main reason why we moved to Microsoft Azure was its PaaS capabilities.

I get a great sense of achievement about building something and releasing it for public consumption, and I enjoy seeing others do it too. With the cloud, this approach to business becomes part of business as usual. Yet its work is of the highest quality, and the speed of market and the capabilities we’re going to be able to take advantage of is huge for us. Microsoft Azure empowers us to continually add features and capability to our websites, which has a direct impact on bottom line and adds value to our franchisees and customers. It’s a place I love to be and it’s great to see the software development team now at the forefront of businesses driving change.

Ultimately, Microsoft Azure removes the noise around hosting, around disaster recovery, around uptime, so that we can focus on what matters most to our business: delivering a great customer experience and selling pizzas.

Read more about Microsoft’s Australian Azure Geo here.


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