The Wendy's-Arby's merger and Oracle E-Business Suite

When Arby's merged with Wendy's, the two realized it would take longer to merge their application infrastructures than to flip a burger or put Horsey Sauce on your roast beef.

Industry: Quick service restaurant (fast food)

Company: Wendy’s/Arby’s Group Inc.

Problem: In 2008, Arby’s merged with the financially struggling Wendy’s and became the third-largest fast food company in the world. The company now consists of 70,000 employees.

Well, huge mergers like that always create huge IT struggles. In this one, each company’s application infrastructures were vastly different. Arby’s had Oracle E-Business Suite for financials running on outdated Intel-based Dell servers and Linux in a data center with limited disaster recovery capabilities. It was outsourcing its payroll application to a company called UltiPro. Meanwhile, Wendy’s had PeopleSoft applications running unsupported on the mainframe.

“We were merging two different companies,” said Brian Cardin, ERP solutions manager for Wendy’s/Arby’s. “We had two different IT teams, two different cultures, and even two different locations (Arby’s in Atlanta; Wendy’s in Ohio).

To make it all the more difficult, Wendy’s/Arby’s had no internal DBA expertise. Their management and support until then had been completely outsourced. The IT staff heard about outages from the users and rarely saw them coming ahead of time.

Solution: Migrate everything to Oracle E-Business Suite 11g, hire a DBA staff, upgrade server hardware and issue all up-to-date patches.

Implementation timeframe: The merged company completed its migration of Wendy’s financial applications onto Oracle EBS in October 2009, a process that included hiring a bunch of DBAs on staff. It then completed a new human capital management on Oracle implementation for Wendy’s/Arby’s in January 2010.

Implementation details: The company assembled various internal and external project teams that consisted of project managers, analysts and SQL and Informatica developers. The teams set goals for their missions. For example, the infrastructure team was responsible for:

  • Creating an infrastructure to support the Wendy’s/Arby’s merger and future growth.
  • Designing and creating test environments.
  • Preparing for the new workload by upgrading existing production environments with a new disk. array, new Intel-based Dell servers and upgrades to the database and Oracle Enterprise Linux operating system.
  • Building an internal Oracle E-Business Suite staff.

The merger was announced in September 2008. By December, new test environments were complete. By the following April, in-house staff hiring was complete. By November 2009, more than 50 patches were applied to the human resources and payroll modules. In December, hardware was upgraded to handle the increased load. And by January 2010, it was all in production.

“About 90% of our patching requirements are for HR and payroll,” said Phil Kilgore, Wendy’s/Arby’s ERP architecture manager. “Hardly a month goes by where we don’t need to patch something.”

What’s next for Wendy’s Arby’s: In May, the IT staff has two large projects: upgrading to Oracle Database 11g R2 and moving its Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) to its recently acquired Exadata machine.

“I perceive that within a year and a half or so, I will probably move [EBS] to Exadata,” Kilgore said. “I don’t really know if I need the extra performance, but we’ll probably be able to reduce licensing by doing it.”

Uncertainty is also part of Wendy’s/Arby’s future. The company is considering selling its Arby’s brand. That would mean ripping apart the infrastructure that Wendy’s/Arby’s just spent three years integrating.

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