Interop: Domino's Mulls Microsoft Cloud - InformationWeek

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Interop: Domino's Mulls Microsoft Cloud

Windows Azure could provide pizza giant with added resiliency to ensure Web downtime is kept to a minimum.

Pizza giant Domino's is considering moving some of its critical, customer-facing applications to Microsoft's Azure cloud operating system, a company official said Monday.

Domino's currently operates its Web-based Pizza Tracker and other apps on an internal, private cloud based on VMWare's virtualization technology. But Jim Vitek, the company's director of ecommerce, said he's investigating whether it makes sense to move the apps to Azure.

Speaking at Enterprise Cloud Summit, part of the Interop Las Vegas 2010 Business Technology Conference and Expo, Vitek said Microsoft's cloud could add resiliency to Domino's online operations, which account for 20% of total orders.

"Resiliency is huge," said Vitek. "If the stores go down, the customers go to the competition. Downtime is lost sales," said Vitek, who spoke at a panel called What End Users Know: Stories From Cloud Users.

Vitek said Domino's has already run non-production versions of Pizza Tracker, an app that lets customers follow the progress of their pizza order, on Azure—which is Microsoft's cloud version of the Windows operating system—and plans more tests.

Moving to the cloud, Vitek said, could help Domino's better deal with sales spikes, such as during the Super Bowl, when orders go through the roof. He emphasized, however, that if Domino's moves critical apps to Microsoft, it would also likely maintain its private cloud infrastructure to provide additional back up.

Microsoft took Windows Azure live earlier this year, in an effort to keep pace with Google, Amazon, Salesforce, and other vendors who are planning cloud services. The company also plans to introduce cloud-, or Web-based versions of Microsoft Office, with the introduction of Office 10 in July. Winning over a well-known consumer brand like Domino's could help validate Microsoft's cloud strategy.

At the Enterprise Cloud Summit, Vitek was joined on his panel by three other experts who addressed cloud computing from the end-user perspective, including Colin Hostert, CIO of online music sharing facilitator Escape Media Group, Mark Silber, IT architect at Qualcomm, and Shlomo Swidler, founder of cloud consulting firm Orchestratus.

The panelists agreed that cloud computing, where apps and data are tapped from remote servers over the Internet, promises to make business IT simpler and more cost-efficient. Silber said Qualcomm ditched traditional offerings from major CRM vendors for Salesforce.com's cloud services. "We replaced them all," said Silber.

The move allowed Qualcomm to cut CRM costs by 60%, said Silber. Shlomo added that cloud computing allows IT organizations to free personnel from grunt work, such as server maintenance. "You can retrain your ops people to do things virtually," he said.

But panelists warned that enterprises need to keep their options open when it comes to selecting cloud vendors—and that starts at the application development stage. "Build your apps so you can move them between providers," said Hostert.

"That's one of the best things we did, and the reps from the cloud companies know that," he added.

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