Broadpeak Technologies: Powering the Franchise Business Model with Azure

BroadPeak Technologies selected Microsoft Azure to house some of the most successful, application-hungry franchise businesses in the world.

Franchising models are the fastest way to scale up a business, leveraging the power of a brand and growing its customer base. Contrary to the high-speed, shared economy, service-oriented world we live in, the nature of this kind of business is traditionally very risk-averse and archaic – that’s code for non-technology driven. By the end of 2018, the number of franchise establishments in the US alone will reach an astounding 760,000 businesses, giving a combined output of $889 billion and providing employment to approximately 8.8 million people. In fact, the franchise business is growing at such a fast pace in the US, it is estimated that a new franchise outlet opens every 8 minutes and accounts for one out of every 12 businesses.

Regardless of the physical location or technological framework of an individual store, the franchisor needs to be able to onboard the franchisee into an integrated, centralized solution that can monitor and support growth. BroadPeak enables and supports the complex business relationship of the franchising model, and recently moved to Microsoft Azure to ensure high availability of its services.

At the Summit’s Foundation

BroadPeak Technologies grew from a two-man company 17 years ago to a team of more than 200 today, specializing in the domain of franchise industry solutions. The company started as an in-house development arm for Edible Arrangements, ultimately developing and managing their entire ecommerce solution. Because Edible Arrangements built its business through a franchise model, it needed solutions for the franchisor-franchisee relationship management and operations. Among other specs, the requirements included the need for a better way to manage the franchisee’s business functions, enable monitoring and consistent reporting. “In essence, they needed a solution with feature-sets specific to the franchising business model,” explains BroadPeak CEO, Tariq Farid.

In 2013, the group formed another company called Naranga, which took the solutions and experience developed for Edible Arrangements, offering them to external clients. Today, Naranga has more than 150 clients who benefit from these solutions, while BroadPeak manages the development, maintenance and support for both Naranga customers and Edible Arrangements.

All NSuite solutions are built on Microsoft Technologies and updated regularly. NSuite comprises of Ncompass, the franchise management solution; Nsight, the online field audit solution; Nspire, the team management solution; and Emax, a lead management system. Tariq says, “The biggest challenge onboarding franchisees is to ensure all activities are consistent. Whether it is reporting, access to information about inventory, ordering, visibility of the complete supply chain, training employees or instore decor, the solution has to deliver the relevant information to the right person at the right time.”

NSuite gets about 1650 users on a daily basis while eMax has about 1800. Together, these users need to access all the applications at all times. Combined, the total volume of traffic is 4TB each month and the franchisees add on an additional 20GB of data and documents on a daily basis. “Service downtime is just not an option in our business model which is extremely demanding. Applications need to be highly available because they are accessed all the time.”, explains Khalid Iqbal, COO Broadpeak.

The Migration to Azure

After having used a managed enterprise-class hosting service since the inception of NSuite, BroadPeak migrated to Microsoft Azure. Just the phased migration of Naranga clients spanned across three months with 0% downtime. “We assessed AWS, Google and Microsoft and decided to migrate to Azure based on its scalability, reliability, security, data compliance and availability of skilled resources. BroadPeak has always been a Microsoft shop and our solutions are developed using Microsoft architecture so migrating to Azure was a natural progression for us,” explains Tariq.

Since the migration to Azure, the teams can integrate reports into the BI and CRM modules and leverage all the datasets that are being recorded. BroadPeak also records a saving of $3000 each month as compared to their previous hosting provider. “Previously we were just renting the space, setting up and managing our own servers. That was costly and time-consuming without any actual redundancy.”

Presently BroadPeak uses an IAAS cloud model to host their entire production environment, using features such as Key Vault, BitLocker, Azure Recovery Services Vault and Application Insights, among others. “We migrated our solution stack to Azure as-is and housed them in the IAAS environment knowing that we would want to stay with this configuration for about a year. However, we are now in the process of reworking the solutions and make them PAAS ready to move towards the cloud model,” says Khalid. This will provide more control in the development and rollout of their custom applications, helping to further control costs.

Scaling Up the Ecosystem

Retail franchise businesses experience surges in traffic and orders seasonally. To ensure all systems are go, BroadPeak conducts load testing at least three times a year: before Mother’s Day, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. This allows them to increase and test the number of concurrent users and scale up the solutions and resources accordingly. BroadPeak previously struggled with infrastructure challenges and scalability issues. Since moving to Azure, two load tests have been conducted successfully, increasing the potential volume to 5 times the normal load.

The franchise business model can be brutally competitive, and in today’s world is only as good as the technology ecosystem it operates in. The infrastructure needs to be able to scale up and out, manage varying workloads depending on seasonal demands, be robust and reliable so the solutions can work, and business can grow. Running solutions on Microsoft Azure ensures reliable growth, security and uptime that drives more business.

You can watch the video at the Microsoft Customer here.

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