The pandemic that hit the world in early 2020 led to dramatic changes in consumer behaviour - especially with the way we consume restaurant food. This US restaurant chain had to respond quickly to retain its loyal customer base - bringing forward existing plans for digital transformation by 5 years.
The restaurant chain came to Sunlight with a challenge - they needed to add new applications to improve customer experience to each of their 430+ locations, while continuing to run existing applications with high availability. They already had several workloads running at each location and were wary of relying on the Cloud in case the WAN failed and operations stalled.
Sunlight is helping the brand to consolidate their restaurant infrastructure using NexVisor hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and Infrastructure Manager (SIM) so they can run legacy and new applications - whether in VMs or containers - on Sunlight HCI with high availability and fault tolerance. As a result, they will need less hardware in each restaurant. The SIM allows them to centrally manage all 430+ locations from the central HQ, saving them time and money on management of each restaurant - with far fewer truck-rolls required when problems are reported.
The restaurant chain can meet its infrastructure budget requirement of $7,500 per restaurant per year, while working towards achieving its customer experience goals.
Reduction in infrastructure costs versus other potential solutions
The infrastructure this chain had implemented across its restaurants had worked well when it was smaller, with fewer sites, and food ordering and production was simpler. But huge growth, coupled with intense competition and changes in consumer behaviour caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have meant that it was increasingly getting out of control. Their 'DIY' solution had involved over-investing in hardware, using multiple management dashboards and relied upon manual failover. The costs were sky rocketing. To make matters worse, they were losing customers to brands that were able to innovate faster than they were.
They knew they had to find a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) or Cloud-like solution that could meet existing infrastructure needs and allow continuous innovation and deployment of new applications at scale. But traditional HCI solutions simply could not run on the rugged, resource constrained hardware necessary in the restaurant environments. The alternative of relying on a cloud-only solution put the restaurants at risk in the event that the WAN failed. After testing several solutions, a partner recommended they try Sunlight.
Sunlight is allowing the brand to consolidate its restaurant infrastructure across all 430+ locations. They will be able to run all of their existing and new applications on HPE Edgeline hardware, with High Availability (HA) and fault tolerance, at each restaurant location. Sunlight's subscription-based model means they can increase and decrease infrastructure to meet requirements across the stores as required.
"The restaurant industry has an uneasy road ahead as it continues to suffer the consequences of the pandemic. Businesses have an opportunity to shift their operational priorities to ensure they have the proper infrastructure and tools needed to cater to this new digital reality."
As this fast food retailer has grown, it has found it increasingly difficult to manage the IT infrastructure across each of its locations at scale. The central IT team were juggling information across several separate dashboards, making it impossible to get to the root cause of problems. The issue was that the dashboards didn't 'talk to each other', meaning a lot of manual work had to be done every time they needed to roll out a software update or add / remove an application - some of the changes requiring an expensive truck-roll.
With the Sunlight Infrastructure Manager (SIM), it's now possible to manage all 430+ sites from one central management dashboard. They can deploy and provision each application as and when needed, and the automated HA means that applications will continue to run even in the event of a hardware failure - meaning fewer fire-drills.
"POS outages cost the average retailer $4,700 per minute, or $282,000 per hour"
The acceleration of digital transformation has meant more applications need to be deployed in each restaurant. Multichannel Ordering, Video Analytics and AI-based applications can massively speed up ordering and fulfilment processes both inside the restaurants and at the drive-through and curb-side pick-up points. Before Sunlight - this would have meant deploying yet more hardware infrastructure for each application.
With the new high performance Sunlight infrastructure, these demanding applications can be deployed on the same infrastructure as existing applications with all the necessary performance, isolation and security. This keeps infrastructure and management costs low.
In the near future, the chain is looking to deploy new video analytics applications using GPU-accelerated Arm servers for best price-performance. Fortunately, Sunlight can manage all of that too, future-proofing the restaurant's investment.
"The drive-thru proved the great restaurant separator during COVID-19 [...] Everything from AI to conveyor belts to drive-thru-only prototypes sprung up out of the pandemic climate."