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Azure’s Platform as a Service is the pepperoni on the pizza for Domino’s

Ask me what my favourite pizza is and I’ll tell you it’s pepperoni. Ask me what my preferred computing approach is and I’ll tell you it’s cloud computing, and in particular Platform as a Service (PaaS).

As the Group CIO for Domino’s I’m one of the executives responsible for a truly digital and increasingly global business. My role is to ensure the solutions we serve up engage our customers and keep them coming back – that means I need a computing platform that is scalable, robust, secure and globally available.

For Domino’s that’s Microsoft Azure. Since I joined the company six years ago we have been on a journey to the cloud, initially adopting Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Over time Azure’s PaaS offering matured, and its footprint extended globally, so we decided to move key digital systems off Amazon’s AWS and into Azure.

The reason is simple; we sell pizzas but we see ourselves very much as a digital business and our customers increasingly order and interact with us through our digital solutions. It gives them choice and convenience, they can order online using any device they want, and already more than 60 per cent of orders come through the online system.

Underpinning that is a highly scalable, robust, reliable platform that can be deployed right around the world, reaching each and every customer wherever they are and whenever they want us.

Our digital platform gets us closer to the customer, they can order online, track their pizza through the making, baking and delivery process and they can provide feedback that we can use to fine tune our services. We’re continually innovating, adding value – a recent example was the world first delivery of a pizza by drone to a customer in New Zealand.

I need scale to service Domino’s’ growing global customer base. I need scale in my solutions, I need scale in my people. I need scale in my partners. I never want to be in a position where the business wants to do something and I cannot – because I do not have the resources to do it or the know-how or the technology. 

That’s why all our core business systems – our digital ordering systems, our Dynamics ERP, back office operations and supply chain systems – are in the cloud.

At Domino’s most back office systems are .NET, and ERP is Dynamics 365. Couple that heritage and skills with the technical maturity of Azure PaaS and we have a development platform that allows us to innovate faster and cheaper.

In the IT department we have four principles – transparency, alignment, accountability and global. Microsoft supports us in all of that.

Microsoft provides us with the development platform, a cloud platform, the tools that we use, the databases we use, and an ERP that allows our finance people to run the business. Microsoft is critical to us.

It means we can take digital solutions and distribute them around the word. Azure gives us global reach and hyperscale, it offers failover robustness, and the in-country Azure data centres help solve privacy issues around the world.

If you are going with an IaaS solution that is centralised in a couple of major availability zones it may not be sufficient to meet privacy requirements.

Today we’re in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and a growing number of European markets. As we expand we need to move very quickly, our digital systems need to perform flawlessly and be massively scalable.

We’ve also signalled to the market that Domino’s is potentially looking at applying the model to other businesses, perhaps in an adjacent area, but always driven by digital. We need to be ready to take the digital platforms and apply them to new areas – take innovation from one area to seed another – GPS technologies would be a feature in any other business, perhaps autonomous vehicles or drone delivery – after all we excel at delivery.

Azure PaaS frees me to concentrate on critical discussions with all the other Domino’s executives around digital delivery rather than commodity discussions around buying hardware and building networks.

It keeps us competitive and maintains our edge with our customer demographic who are digitally enabled and mobile first. Our strategy reflects that.

When it comes to pizza or PaaS my best advice is stay focussed and make it great.