LANDESK Customer Success Story: The Cheesecake Factory

cheesecakefactoryThe Cheesecake Factory, Inc., headquartered in Calabasas Hills, California, created the upscale casual dining segment in 1978 with the introduction of its namesake concept. The company operates 181 full-service, casual dining restaurants throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. It also operates two bakery production facilities in Calabasas Hills and Rocky Mount, North Carolina that produce approximately 70 varieties of quality cheesecakes and other baked products. In 2014, The Cheesecake Factory was named to Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” and in 2013 posted total revenues of $1.88 billion.

Challenge: Replace Inefficient Tools and Manual Management of Network

Operating 181 restaurants spread across the United States and Puerto Rico presented a challenge for The Cheesecake Factory’s IT department. “The PCs and Point-of-Sale [POS] terminals at all of our locations are hundreds and in some cases thousands of miles away from our IT center in Calabasas Hills, California,” said Susan Tincher, Senior IT Manager. “Troubleshooting and repairing those machines was no easy task, but it’s one of our top priorities. We do everything from ordering food and equipment to processing customer credit card payments on those devices. If they aren’t running properly, that can affect business and the bottom line.”

Limited Remote Control Features

Considering the geographic spread of the PCs and POS terminals, the ability to remotely control each device was critical. “If a restaurant reported issues with a machine,” continued Tincher, “we were very limited in our ability to not only understand what they were experiencing, but also limited in our ability to fix the problem. The remote control tool we were using simply did not have the features or performance to handle the job. In too many instances, we had to dispatch one of our partner’s technicians to resolve the problem. That was an expensive alternative, but we had no choice.”

Patching Is Time Consuming and Expensive

Patching was also a critical issue, especially given the strict Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) that The Cheesecake Factory must follow. “We are a Tier 1 PCI merchant,” explained Tincher. “To maintain that level, which is very important to us, we must comply with their patching standard. Before, we used the Windows tool to patch our Windows applications and another product to patch our non-Windows software. Neither had the comprehensive capabilities we needed, and using two separate tools was a hassle. Also, the non-Windows solution required a dedicated server and additional expenses.”

Several Software Installation Options, None Ideal

Distributing software was just as labor intensive. “We used a variety of approaches to install software,” said Tincher, “We would install it on new machines before shipping them to the restaurants, or we’d use Windows Group Policy objects which was a challenge all in itself, or as a last resort we would ask a partner to install it manually onsite. None of these choices was ideal or foolproof. We needed to reduce the time and costs related to managing our widespread network, so we decided to implement a fully automated management solution.”

Solution: IT Technicians Choose Automated Management Suite

The IT department put together a team to research the leading network management products on the market. “They spent an extensive amount of time analyzing the different vendors,” said Tincher. “And it was a collective decision. Every technician had input because this was such an important selection; it would affect the entire company. In the end, they chose LANDESK. It was the most full-featured product they examined, and it’s proven to be the perfect choice for us.”

Full-Featured Remote Control

The solution provides full remote control capabilities. “We can remote in to a PC while the users are logged on and see exactly what they see,” said Tincher. “Then we can take control and make any changes necessary. We still use our partner as a backup resource, but they go onsite much less often and they even use LANDESK now. If a PC or POS terminal at a restaurant is having a problem, that’s a business-continuity issue that we must address immediately. Now we can.”

Prove PCI Compliance with a Report

Patching is easier and faster using one tool. “The solution allows us to be smarter and more judicious,” said Tincher. “We can now ensure the patches match the exact requirements of the environment where they will be deployed. And for our next PCI audit, all we have to do is generate a LANDESK report that shows we are compliant. That’s all the auditors require. Before, our technicians spent hours over several weeks gathering the audit data. Now, it couldn’t be easier.”

Mission Critical and Pays for Itself

Installing new software requires a minimal amount of a technician’s time. “Once a new application is set up in LANDESK,” explained Tincher, “the technician can click the mouse, then walk away while it automatically installs. We recently updated our PCs to Windows 7 and our POS terminals to POSReady 2009. Before, that would have taken thousands of hours and cost tens of thousands of dollars because a technician would have had to touch each machine. LANDESK did the migrations accurately and uniformly in a fraction of the time. Having one tool that does everything we need is a huge benefit. From an IT point of view, the solution is absolutely mission-critical to the success of our company. In fact, we’ve hired a dedicated LANDESK administrator to ensure we make the best use of its many capabilities. The more features we tap into, the more time and money we save. I recommend LANDESK to my peers. It pays for itself and makes life easier for your IT department.”