Citrix private cloud boosts motor firm growth

growth strategy

We all know that the cloud can scale up easily, but Motorpoint has used the cloud to scale up the business itself.

The car sales company has seven sites across the UK and also a call centre. The firm is in the process of expanding and needed the means to set up new IT resources in new branches quickly, while bringing all hardware and business applications across all Motorpoint sites into one coherent unified platform.

The company has showrooms in Birmingham, Burnley, Chingford, Derby, Glasgow, Newport and Peterborough and also has a call centre-based service. In each of these sites there were various versions of operating systems and business applications, combined with dated PC, terminal and printer equipment. The inconsistency that this brought about was a significant inconvenience for IT managers when it came to managing the infrastructure.

As a result, Motorpoint began looking for something that would deliver major efficiency improvements to the business and allow it to expand without too much of a headache.

Traditional infrastructure a hindrance to growth plans

"Our ambitious growth plans were being hindered by the fact that our IT infrastructure was inconsistent across the branches. The solution we deployed needed to show a much more efficient way of managing our IT," says Mark Carpenter, managing director at Motorpoint.

The demand for a common IT platform that could work at all of its sites was not just about simplifying the roll out of new sites, but also enhancing how its employees were able to work. Motorpoint wanted to implement a universal service to enable more flexibility and access for its employees - whether that was through simplifying the ability to hotdesk at different sites, or by removing the difficulties staff might encounter when faced with inconsistent applications and equipment when moving around the business.

Another, often-neglected, driver for unifying delivery of IT was that by having a common platform Motorpoint would also be able to standardise its technology training for new staff, streamlining the induction process.

In order to address these concerns and to achieve the desired agility and consistent service delivery, Motorpoint decided to move to a fully cloud-based service.

Steve Wright, marketing manager at Motorpoint says that his firm already had a strong relationship with its IT supplier Node4.

“Given the long standing relationship we have had with them, the level of trust and the level of competence overall, it would be rather too simplistic to say it was a no-brainer but we felt extremely comfortable with them rolling it [the cloud] out across the company,” he says.

Node4 was used by Motorpoint to design and implement a cloud architecture that would enable the company to bring its entire IT infrastructure into one central point within Node4’s datacentre.

Another reason Motorpoint went with Node4 was that it could offer a full range of IT services, as Motorpoint knew that it could start by making the transition on a few services and slowly add further capabilities and performance over time.

Motorpoint wanted a partner that could adapt and scale in line with its own growth and changing requirements, therefore looking to maintain a long-term relationship rather than buying a one-off solution.

“For us, having an IT partner we could trust and will go the extra mile was absolutely critical. With Node4, that is exactly what we were getting. The fact that they were based locally in Derby was also a key point for us. Having the peace of mind that Node4 are just around the corner from us and that we wouldn’t be dealing with a call centre somewhere was an important factor in our decision,” says Carpenter.

"We need a system that tough enough to handle that because it is not just something that people use every now and then, they are using it day in, day out. Without that system and the support behind it, the team would be able to do what they can do," adds Wright.

The move to the cloud

The private cloud offered by Node4 runs primarily from its Derby datacentre, backed up and replicated securely at its Northampton datacentre. The whole IT infrastructure is built on Cisco Unified Computing System hardware.

The private cloud replaces legacy infrastructure with something that can be updated centrally, replicated to a disaster recovery site and backed up simply.

To plan and implement the roll out, Node4 provided a dedicated account manager, project manager and engineer resource to manage sourcing hardware, the install process and to provide training to ensure Motorpoint’s transition worked seamlessly.

Wright says the system runs Citrix to provide a virtual desktop from which staff can access the software they use from day-to-day.

"The business has two main pieces of software, one is Viper which manages our stock of cars. The other is iQuote, which is the system that the sales team uses to process sales orders. And they are both bespoke systems that we have created ourselves," he says.

Wright says that by using Citrix, it allows the firm to use all of the software for the different sides of the business. "It pulls it all into one. It allows us to look at what stock we have got, who is being paid, who has paid us and allows us to answer our emails. It allows us to do all of those things all virtually and under one roof," says Wright.

The new cloud infrastructure has improved how Motorpoint operates as a business by lowering the management burden and improving ease of use for employees.

Overall, the new IT infrastructure has taken away the hassle of managing outdated IT equipment. It has also enabled the management team at Motorpoint to focus on the core functions of its business.

"Moving to a cloud environment has really given us the smoother infrastructure we needed to develop the business. Thanks to Node4, we can now set up the IT for new branches within minutes and the speed with which we can expand our business has increased rapidly,” says Carpenter.

For the sales team, the new infrastructure has not only streamlined the buying process for customers, but also simplified communication between sites and accelerated the vehicle requisition process. The company has experienced a significant increase in terms of sales and turnover in the past year.

Following the success of the transition to a cloud based infrastructure, Motorpoint is now looking at further enhancements and expansion. Node4 is also developing a rollout of other customer-facing capabilities - such as installing customer Wi-Fi at its showrooms.

Alongside that, Motorpoint also has plans to expand to two new sites in the next 12-18 months. This will involve 120-180 new employees and Node4 is supporting the rollout, providing the software and hardware to make the process as easy as possible.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.