Fast-growing companies face a range of IT challenges, including the need to build a solid foundation for the future. For Massage Envy, which boasts more than 925 franchises across the United States, the need for agility and flexibility has driven the company to take a managed services and cloud-based approach.
“We need to operate an IT infrastructure that supports the company and all its locations,” says Dan Miller, Massage Envy’s CIO. This challenge is complicated by the fact that Massage Envy requires its enterprise applications, Web-based scheduling systems and databases to operate consistently across the entire network of franchises.
“We had to ask ourselves what we wanted to focus on and how we wanted to manage IT resources,” Miller recalls. “The decision we came to is that we wanted to have an IT department that was strategic and focused on innovation, rather than one burdened by maintenance and day-to-day activities.”
As a result, Massage Envy turned to SunGard Availability Services in 2010 to provide IT and network services along with business continuity. It completed the transition to managed IT services at the end of 2011.
“The choice was either to staff up as we grew or to look for a strategic partnership that would allow us to better expand the business,” Miller explains. “The decision to outsource day-to-day infrastructure and operations has allowed us to incubate new and better technologies that advance the business.”
One of those opportunities involved investing resources in the firm’s iPad and smartphone apps. Massage Envy also developed a franchisee Web portal and expanded reporting to the mobile space. “Mobility has emerged as a top priority,” Miller points out.
SunGard hosts the company’s key business servers and applications, including its point-of-sale system. It also performs database and network maintenance, along with capacity planning related to servers and storage.
This approach also helped Massage Envy roll out new IT systems. Recently, when the firm began developing an online calendar and booking app, it was able to introduce a prototype quickly and test it without a major investment in new systems and IT resources. The scheduling system is now live.
“We were able to obtain space in SunGard’s virtual environment to prototype the server,” Miller reports. “The advantage of taking this approach is that we can scale up and down very quickly. If we need 10 servers within 24 hours, we’ll have them.”
In addition, Massage Envy has boosted its business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities. The company has two hosted data centers (in Philadelphia and Rancho Cordova, Calif.) to ensure that its national network of clinics remains online at all times.
“We are now able to make changes in the data centers without any impact on the franchisees,” Miller explains. “In the past, we had to shut down systems for a day or two to perform upgrades. We’re now achieving four-nines availability, and, even if disasters or other events occur, we’re able to continue doing business.”