Lightstream Helps a Large Restaurant Chain Fast Track Digitalization and Save Millions

Industry:  Retail

Managed Services for Network and Cloud Simplify Billing, Improve Bandwidth Speed and Reduce Costs

Business Challenge

Consumers have choices, especially when it comes to fast-casual dining. When people are considering restaurant options, they are looking for fast service, convenience and tasty food delivered with quality and excellence at an affordable price. And they won’t settle for less. Restaurant executives understand this. As a result, they continually strive to deliver high quality, innovative service to their customers, to stay ahead of the competition.

In today’s connected world, consumers increasingly browse menus online and place orders remotely. Restaurants need a high-performing voice and data network to accommodate these demands.

In 2015, Lightstream began working with an international fast casual restaurant chain to address several network challenges. At the time, the company had over 2,000 restaurants and was struggling with an expensive, complex telecommunications network. They were experiencing connectivity issues at the stores, and it was costing tens of thousands of dollars every month in wireless cost overruns.

Solution

When Lightstream first engaged, the team began with a thorough review of the company’s existing network infrastructure and service providers. Each store was configured with a primary connection for voice and data with a wireless 4G connection for backup, and the company used hundreds of different providers across the country.

At the restaurant level, the company’s network was designed for uninterrupted service. If the primary connection went down, service immediately switched over to the 4G network. The change happened seamlessly—users were oblivious to the failover, and service continued as usual. The network, however, was not monitored closely. The company often was unaware when a switchover occurred, and stores could operate on the 4G network for a long time, causing wireless costs to skyrocket.

Because the company had hundreds of different telecom providers, the finance organization was overwhelmed with invoices flowing in from across the organization from the various vendors. Consequently, sorting through invoices every month was time-consuming and inefficient, requiring painstaking research to ensure the billing was accurate.

To resolve these challenges, Lightstream consolidated the company’s entire telephony infrastructure, replacing them with lower cost, higher bandwidth connectivity options, and streamlined the number of providers. In addition, Lightstream added network monitoring and event management services, so that any network outages or anomalies and would be identified and resolved without any added burden on the company’s IT organization.

Since that initial engagement in 2015, the company has grown to 3,000 restaurants, and the organization’s infrastructure has evolved. Today, SD-WAN is deployed across the infrastructure, and the company has invested heavily in moving workloads to the cloud.

As the company has grown over the years and its needs have changed, Lightstream has expanded its relationship providing network monitoring, event management, telephony, field services (installation, cabling, and wiring) and cloud infrastructure optimization.

Business Outcomes

Reduced Costs / Increased Bandwidth

Working with Lightstream’s technical experts, the company consolidated its voice and data network, reducing the number of circuits and carriers and increasing bandwidth to the stores at the same time. This substantially simplified billing—reducing the number of monthly invoices from well over 100 down to one.  All of this has generated millions of dollars in cost savings.

Reduced Connectivity Problems / Improved Service Availability

In 2015, the company was struggling with excessive wireless overage charges. Lightstream’s Network Managed Services for network monitoring and event management helped solve those problems, improving service availability and reducing wireless overage costs by a factor of ten. Network Managed Services includes proactive monitoring and carrier management, managed services through the support of our 24/7 network operations center, dedicated customer service managers and optional field services.

Cloud Infrastructure Optimization

The company has invested heavily in the cloud.  Currently nearly half of its revenue comes through digital sales which depend on the cloud infrastructure.

In 2017, cloud costs accounted for about $150,000 annually. Today, due to the growth of digital sales, cloud costs have increased by a factor of more than 100.  To keep costs in check and to optimize cloud investments, the company utilizes Lightstream’s Cloud Managed Services to help them gauge monthly trends and capture billing anomalies within their environment. This helps them avoid wasteful spending accounting for nearly one million dollars annually in savings. Cloud Managed services helps clients manage the day-to-day administration and management of their cloud infrastructures with a flexible mix of consulting, integration and managed services.

Digital sales are expected to grow as consumers are demanding more digital access than ever before. As a result, the company continues to invest heavily in cloud and rely on services from Lightstream to help optimize cloud infrastructure costs, while delivering better user experiences for their customers.

 

 

A Regional Bank Makes First Move to Azure with Help from Lightstream

Industry:  Banking

Cloud Foundation and Managed Services help architect an Azure environment to securely support a new line-of-business application

Business Challenge

A regional bank in the Pacific Northwest was facing a challenge. The company had 200 locations and aggressive growth plans to triple its business in the next two years. To accomplish its objectives, and offer more modern customer experiences, the organization needed to make changes to its applications and infrastructure.

The company operated two data centers in an active-passive architecture. Maintaining the active-passive configuration meant every time hardware or software was installed at the primary location, a duplicate was installed at the backup site.

Operating two data centers in this way was expensive. The company found that it was buying 2-3 times the amount of capacity it really needed, leaving a lot of costly resources stranded and unused. For this reason, the bank wanted to move applications to the cloud and eventually eliminate the need for a second on-premise data center.

To begin, the company selected a customer-facing application to move to Microsoft Azure. The goal was to integrate the new 3rd-party SaaS application while purchasing no additional hardware, adhering to security and regulatory compliance, and improving business continuity.

But the company had no previous experience working with Azure or with managing cloud environments.

Solution

Seeking help with the move to Azure, the bank engaged Lightstream in 2019. To gather data about the company’s technical environment and to establish a baseline, Lightstream consultants performed a Cloud Foundation Workshop. The workshop helped the company better understand Azure and the basics of cloud operations and security.

When the workshop concluded, the Lightstream team worked with the company to design a secure architecture to support the SaaS application. The effort included writing custom integration code that enabled the SaaS provider to securely access line-of-business application data in Azure and creating re-factored SQL databases in Azure to support a SaaS solution. The design allowed the company to successfully move the application and created an architecture, process, and procedure for moving more applications into Azure without needing to re-write, re-architect, or re-engineer the environment for every subsequent application.

Business Outcomes

Cloud Architecture to Support Strategic Business Goals

Beginning with a Lightstream Cloud Foundation Workshop, the company was able to design and implement a secure cloud architecture. This enabled bank operations to support a new customer-facing line-of-business application while providing visibility for operational and security teams. And it established a baseline process for moving more applications to Azure as business needs arise.

In addition, the cloud architecture positions the company to move forward with its redesigned disaster recovery strategy. The company can now confidently move more applications to Azure and reduce the need for additional hardware at its backup data center.

Ongoing Cloud Management and Optimization

Having limited experience with cloud environments was a concern for the company. To address this, the company uses Lightstream Cloud Managed Services for ongoing Azure management and optimization of financial, technical, security, and operational aspects of the environment.

Access to Specialized Technical Experts When Needed

Cloud expertise and specialized skills can be difficult to find and expensive to hire. Engaging Lightstream has enabled the company to get the benefit of cloud experts without adding people to its staff.

Improved Cross-IT Communication

One unexpected benefit of working with Lightstream has been the impact on cross-IT communication. Like many organizations, the company’s IT group operated in vertical silos. This often was a challenge, because technical problems often crossed silo boundaries and required cross-group communication and collaboration to resolve them. But effective communication between groups was sometimes hard to achieve and caused delays in finding the root cause of issues.

Lightstream Cloud Managed Services, while focused on supporting the company’s Azure environment, has provided a consistent presence to help solve technical problems. With technical expertise in all aspects of IT, including networking, storage, server, and security, and visibility of the company’s entire network, Lightstream’s technical experts have provided valuable insight and helped bridge communications between different parts of the IT organization.

Contact Information

To learn more about how Lightstream Cloud Foundation Workshop or Cloud Managed Services can help your business create a secure cloud architecture, reduce costs, and improve user experience, visit www.lightstream.tech/solutions/managed-services/.