Executive Summary

Customers of one of the world’s oldest department stores were experiencing off-putting delays in the purchasing process, and existing software programming was slow or unable to address the concern. The software was in place, but the retailer's IT department had neither the expertise nor the workforce available to fully realize its potential. A previous distributor had already installed the Cloudforms Cloud Management Platform on the customer's hybrid cloud technology; the customer brought in IIS for its expertise in automating the repetitious setup of servers and operating systems. IIS personnel developed a self-serve VM provisioning app to speed scale capacities and added Ansible automated processing to eliminate the time, expense and potential human error of tedious manual data entry and VM creation.


  • Hybrid cloud automation
  • Infrastructure as a Service
  • Virtual machine deployment

Half of a Solution

In e-commerce, site responsiveness is paramount: just a one-second delay can result in a 7% reduction in conversions, not including the drop-offs that might have converted via other pages around the site. The client had already purchased and installed the Cloudforms software but hadn't implemented its full value. At the same time, seasonal fluctuations across their markets had slowed customer service to unacceptable levels, and in-house IT was unable to respond fast enough to prevent consumer departures.

Umbrella companies were losing customers and money due to slow website response to consumer requests, and existing systems were unable to improve the UX or reduce costs.

Insufficient Integration

The retailer had already invested in technology: it had acquired a series of diverse programs, each designed to respond to a particular need. The problem was that it hadn't integrated the constellation of the software to achieve the goals for its subsidiaries.

  • Customer service tickets were getting lost in the myriad of insufficiently structured data, leaving those requests unanswered, sometimes for days.
  • In-house processes delayed the service even further by requiring excessive manual data entry and an extended approval process to create the additional server space needed to respond to increased customer demand.
  • Seasonal fluctuations compounded the high demand issue and wasted resources during slower periods.

Because of these issues, the client was considering a satellite solution for cloud management, which would have created a significant sunk cost in the existing Cloudforms and Ansible investments. Yet the IIS team saw the client had everything it needed already. Automation was the key to the entire infrastructure; it would free up the IT department to address problems as needed, solve the responsiveness/drop-off problem, and realize massive untapped ROI from the increased real-time agility.

On its face, the platform was more than adequate for the client’s needs. Yet it wasn’t deployed to its fullest capacity: the technical skills and in-depth knowledge of how the software would respond specifically to the customer's concerns were not available within the customer's in-house IT department.

Collaboration Coordinates Effort

IIS had been working with this client for close to nine years. At the time, the client had purchased Red Hat's Cloudforms platform and licensing through a partner distributor, who in turn brought in IIS to fully implement the cloud technology. IIS also ensured that the client's in-house IT professionals could manage the operations after IIS had completed the configuration.

The collaboration process took some time as the customer worked to articulate its goals, and the technology side identified and designed the programs to achieve those aims. When it came time for the implementation of the new hybrid cloud configuration, the IIS technician spent a total of ten days onsite, configuring the cloud-based services to mirror exactly the programs that had previously run on-premise, automating them and reducing the time, money and error opportunities that were rife within the legacy configuration.

Each Pain Point Was Addressed

The team started with a comprehensive discussion about what the client wanted, which included inputs about the services each member of the team would provide. Red Hat developers were tapped to reprogram the platform if and when IIS discovered bugs or gaps within the software. IIS would provide the technical expertise to configure the project within a hybrid cloud configuration, which would be new to the customer but would greatly expand the capacity of the software in which it had already invested.

Next came a comprehensive assessment of the client's existing programs and configurations to determine which functions they were performing and which, if any, functions had been left unused. The client had not updated its Cloudforms with the various patches that had been released over time, so the IIS technician brought the client up to speed so that the automation would run properly. In addition, IIS was testing code around the clock in order to push environments to service customers as quickly as possible. Because of the existing quota of customer service hours, the client received a significantly improved system with no additional financial outlay required.

Project Implementation

The IIS tech set up his workspace at the customer's offices but remained connected to IIS servers. With this setup, he could access IIS technology to run debugging and capacity tests before launching the new programming on the client's servers. He upgraded and reconfigured the client's existing Cloudforms platform to duplicate the client's previous processing, but at a much faster speed and with drastically reduced exposure to human error:

  • Where possible, he segregated the various software programs to streamline overall workflow and enhance the productivity of those assets.
  • The development of a "self-service" portal automated cloud provisioning, which allowed in-house IT to easily and quickly create responsive solutions to consumer and enterprise queries. What once took several days, with an intricate approvals process, could now be done in real time at the speed of market demand.

Once the programming was integrated and the hybrid cloud platform was up and running smoothly, the IIS tech taught the client's IT personnel how to use it to its optimal capacity. For the in-house staff, the interface and UX replicated exactly what they had been doing previously, so no efficiency was lost during the transition process.

The significant difference, however, was the enhanced speed and agility with which they could respond to consumer demands and the reduction or elimination of human error facilitated through the automation process. With the solution’s power now fully unleashed, no more tickets would be accepted and approved, only to lose one or two days before being set up by someone else – IT could now go in and set up the ticket themselves.

In just ten days, one IIS technician helped the retailer maximize the potential of its existing technology, and without disturbing any aspect of the company's databases or security procedures. The result is the client's ability to spin up server capacity in response to consumer demands within minutes, not days or weeks. The newfound agility saves on man hours, frees up IT staff to address more pressing needs as they arise, eases the burden on customer service, and delivers a superior frontend experience for customers.