Case study: Car supermarket deploys cloud for agility and business expansion

With inconsistent IT infrastructure and dated hardware hindering growth and expansion plans, Motorpoint turned to private cloud

With inconsistent IT infrastructure and dated hardware hindering growth and expansion plans, online car retailer Motorpoint decided to switch to a cloud-based infrastructure for agility, efficiency, and to support business expansion.

Founded in 1998, the UK car supermarket stocks a mix of more than 3,500 new and nearly new cars and has sold in excess of 31,000 cars over the past 12 months.

In addition to a website, it has seven retail outlets across the UK, including Birmingham, Burnley, Chingford, Derby, Glasgow, Newport and Peterborough.

Each of Motorpoint's retail premises was using different versions of software combined with dated hardware. The lack of standardisation brought about inconsistency in service, forcing the management to find efficiency improvements with an IT upgrade.

"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 of Motorpoint.

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Agile cloud-based infrastructure

The car supermarket turned to datacentre and communications provider Node4 to implement a cloud-based infrastructure that will assist Motorpoint in becoming more agile as it seeks to expand the number of branches across the UK.

As a rapidly growing company, Motorpoint wanted a robust IT infrastructure that would not only help it open new sites quickly, but also make its existing sites more efficient.

The company’s IT also required a means of assigning IT resources to new branches swiftly, while also bringing all the hardware and software across all Motorpoint sites into one coherent, unified platform, says Carpenter.

Motorpoint implemented a private cloud-based service called n4Cloud from Node4. The private cloud is primarily operated from Node4’s datacentre in Northampton, but the retailer’s IT team has also opted for a cloud backup and replication strategy to ensure continuous IT services and a highly resilient environment in case of an outage at the Northampton datacentre. The private cloud services are backed up and replicated at another Node4 datacentre in Derby.

Cloud-based infrastructure

The private cloud platform is built on Cisco’s unified blade server products. As part of the IT upgrade, Motorpoint’s legacy infrastructure was replaced with a cloud platform, which the IT team can update and back up centrally without the need to upgrade the IT at each of its sites individually.

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

Mark Carpenter, Motorpoint

Today, all servers that power the day-to-day operations of the company – including authentication, mail servers and line of business applications – are operated from its private cloud infrastructure.

A complete cloud-based infrastructure meant Motorpoint could centralise its IT in a resilient datacentre environment, allowing the company to direct its efforts into the core functions of its business without being limited by outdated equipment, according to Carpenter.

As well as minimising the ongoing costs associated with managing the IT system in-house, Motorpoint's cloud infrastructure means that when it opens a new site, the resources can be allocated in a matter of minutes, says Carpenter.

"Moving to the cloud has really given us the smoother infrastructure we needed to develop the business. 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,” he says.

Supporting growth

“The benefits of cloud computing become all the more apparent for a rapidly growing business such as Motorpoint,” says Andrew Gilbert, managing director at Node4.

Earlier this year, Node4 was bought out by its management to fund further growth, new datacentre buildings and acquisitions in the cloud space.

The deal was backed by private equity firm Lloyds Development Capital, a subsidiary of Lloyds Banking Group.

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