DSP use Microsoft Azure to improve e-commerce capabilities at David Phillips
Read how DSP implemented a successful Hybrid Azure Cloud Solution to improve David Phillips' performance, scalability and costs.
MS SQL Data Platform
Hybrid Cloud using Microsoft Azure
Design & Architecture
David Phillips is a design-led residential and commercial contract furniture provider specialising in the letting industry. Their wide range of customers varies from small local landlords to global developers of sites such as Strata in London. Although their headquarters is located in London, they operate out of several showrooms and sites around the country.
As part of a series of strategic initiatives to support their growth plans, the team at David Phillips recognised the need to modernise their systems, improve their e-commerce capability and take advantage of technology to reduce operating costs. They selected DSP to implement a specified infrastructure and data platform to underpin their new e-commerce solution. DSP recommended a Hybrid Azure Cloud solution in order for David Phillips to have cost reductions, scalability, supportability and extended infrastructure.
David Phillips had previously invested significantly in Microsoft Dynamics NAV and CRM for core business activity. However, this system used a combination of a call centre and online order forms, which was time-consuming and inconvenient. Therefore they needed a system that matched their growing business needs and could:
- Reduce inbound calls and cut the costs associated with running the call centre.
- Save time and money by eliminating the process of receiving online orders and manually keying them into Microsoft Dynamics.
- Ensure customers had instant stock and order capability, keeping David Phillips in line with their larger competitors.
A partner was chosen for the e-commerce solution – significant investment was made to catalogue all stock, customise pages for specific customers and give customers real-time stock information by connecting them directly to the Microsoft Dynamics system. Through their engagement with the software development company, David Phillips recognised the need for a specified infrastructure and data platform to underpin the new e-commerce solution.
The main challenges were as follows:
- Performance - It was imperative that the new system performed well from the outset, ensuring that established customers adapted easily and felt a sense of improvement.
- Scalability - Like many businesses, David Phillips experiences some seasonal peaks. Armed with the knowledge that maximum usage may only occur for 3 months of the year and given the growth plans, the IT team would be forced to cost the environment based on its peak usage.
- Cost - Due to numerous unknown factors, such as the number of new customers/users who would benefit from the new system, all eventualities need to be covered. This meant that David Phillips had to spend a significant amount of money on improving infrastructure.
- Resource - David Phillips had limited internal resources and a distinct lack of data platform expertise, meaning it would prove difficult to put together an end-to-end solution.
The first step to solving these challenges was engaging in Data Platform Consultancy. Following a number of successful projects with their Data Platform partner, David Phillips tasked DSP with:
- Designing a suitably efficient data platform based on Microsoft SQL Server.
- Assisting in the bid process to choose the ideal infrastructure partner.
- Addressing the above concerns and finding the best solutions in relation to cost, scalability, performance and resource.
The first stage was to document the company’s needs and requirements, before translating these into workable solutions. Next came outlining the infrastructure and architecture required to address these specific requirements. Through a series of workshops, DSP consulted with David Phillips’ management, infrastructure provider and e-commerce development partner. They were able to architect a suitable database, web and application tier that met each of David Phillips’ criteria and facilitated the planned business growth.
Through these workshops, it was noted that traditional infrastructure providers may not be able to meet the scalability and cost needs of David Phillips. The company needed an environment that could grow seamlessly as their business grew and had the required burst-ability of a true Cloud platform. This is where Microsoft Azure came in: as David Phillips standardised on Microsoft, it made logical sense for DSP to recommend a Hybrid Azure Cloud Solution.
DSP meticulously architected the solution to ensure that the infrastructure – particularly the web and database tier – could automatically scale up during seasonal peak times, then scale down using the same automation with limited intervention from IT staff.
This solution required a data platform and web tier hosted in Azure, that could automatically fail over to a secondary DR site in the event of hardware or environmental failure. This type of security made the option even more appealing. In addition, the solution required direct connectivity to David Phillips's existing Microsoft Dynamics which was hosted in a co-location data centre elsewhere. The Hybrid Azure Cloud Solution provides David Phillips with benefits such as cost reduction, as the TCO was significantly lower than purchasing each element directly. As well as cost control, David Phillips has now removed the need for cyclic CAPEX costs and knows exactly what their IT bills will be each month. This makes business budgeting easier and far more effective.
With this new solution, they are able to automatically scale up during peak periods and scale down when the system is less active. As a result David Phillips only pays for what they need, making it highly cost-effective.
With Azure, David Phillips’ Marketing department can easily create new test environments which mirror the production. This ensures immediate market response to the required functionality.
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