Cloud provides recipe for Yo! Sushi success

International restaurant chain saves with business applications upgrade to support growth.

Company profile
Fifteen years ago in London Yo! Sushi pioneered the Japanese kaiten' sushi bar concept, where the food travels along a conveyor belt. It has since grown into a worldwide chain of more than 60 restaurants, also offering takeaway or delivery.
The big thing with the cloud is that our IT solutions are now a lot more scalable...We get to use the same infrastructure as much bigger firms than us.
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Situation
Japanese fast food chain Yo! Sushi has experienced rapid global growth since opening its first London restaurant in 1997. The company has recently expanded at the rate of 10 stores per year. But it was finding it difficult to cost-effectively make sure its IT systems could keep pace.
Billy Waters, Yo! Sushi IT manager, told IT Pro the company relied on Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Office and a number of other applications for running the day-to-day business, but that the server infrastructure on which they ran was ageing. "The servers were seven years old, reaching the end of their useful life and we were getting up to the data limits of our licences," he said. 
"But replacing them and upgrading our core office software would require substantial investment." At the same time, Waters knew that retaining the old servers would not only continue to cost Yo! Sushi more time and money, but also that its disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities would remain limited. "As the only internal IT specialist, I need to keep our IT quite lean. But hardware maintenance and back-up procedures are time consuming." So the company began to look for new alternatives in the middle of last year.
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Solution
In order to update its IT infrastructure to support business growth, Yo! Sushi looked at updating its own existing server infrastructure alongside other options. "There were the onsite or hosted server option," Waters said. "Or there was the cloud, which worked out 40 per cent cheaper [than the alternatives] over five years to run." 
While the company evaluated a number of cloud software and infrastructure products, a friend of Waters who worked for IT services provider IMGROUP suggested Yo! Sushi explore Microsoft's cloud offering, Office 365. The advantages of maintaining its familiarity with existing business IT at a cheaper cost were clear. "Moving to Office 365 meant we could keep our existing systems and also get extra functionality, like SharePoint Online."
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