Official Blog of the IT Group

another bug keeps you up to date with blogs from people behind the scenes building systems at JJ Food Service.
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It been 11.3 months since we went live with AX2012 (going to have a small party for 1 year anniversary). We upgraded from AX 2009 under the Microsoft TAP program which gave us a lot of knowledge, help and for sure fun. Due to many reasons we had to go live under our old AX2009 license keys. This limited us from accessing many new features, we also went live before the feature pack came out.

For some time now we been meaning to apply the correct keys and feature pack which would give us access to Process Industries, Public Sector, Retail, and Service Industries features. We are very keen on applying a lot of the retail features to our business and removing our own version of them that we been creating since 2004.

So we created a project to do AX2012 CU4, AX2012 Feature Pack and AX2012 Correct Licenses Keys in a project. Since the IT Group all trained at being a Scrum master… we have fallen in love with sticky notes and you will find them all over any surface in our office (also find chilli sauce all over the place).

The team had an amazing time at the #TechStartupJobs event at Innovation Warehouse (next to Smithfield’s).

Check out this very quite but very very fast video of Rif Kiamil (the CIO) talking about whats its like working in the IT Group and JJ Food Service in general.

Check out our jobs at

The JJ HR and IT Teams will be at #TechStartupJobs event on September 11th at Innovation Warehouse 1 East Poultry Avenue London EC1A 9PT.

We currently have over 10 roles in IT to be filled like Business intelligence (BI), Product Managment, C#, Java Script and Node.JS

So come on down and meet the team. We are happy to chat to you about anything from how we ship food all over the UK, our cloud strategy or what we building at this current time. We will also have some touch screen Windows 8 desktops to play with.

Rif Kiamil our CIO will be speaking at the event also. Read about the different teams on our IT Blog.

Check out the list of our current jobs.

Virgin Media is cleaning and check our new High Capacity Services which is 10Gb and sub 1milliseconds round trip time.

I love how you can look inside fiber cables which are only 50 microns (or about 0.000039 inches).

This 2x10Gb links gives us ability to move virtual machines around between datacenters with no downtime.


Rif with Sean Kane (from Springboard) and Wes Biggs from adfonic. We picked quickword as 1st place at the TechMeetups HTML5 Hackathon

Check out our CIO Rif Kiamil at TechMeetups HTML5 Hackathon, not only was he the #TheManWhoBoughtTheRedBulls, he part the team that judged the 5 and 1/2 projects that came out of the hackathon.

IT Group Team Photo

In the past, I.T.  was managed in a top-down fashion — dictating problems and demanding solutions.  Sadly, it remains this way at many companies still today.

But our IT Group at JJ Food Service thinks differently…  

We are proud of the technology ecosystem we’ve built across our entire organization, one that listens and gives input at every level, and learns organically from what works and doesn’t.  We thrive from strategic relationships with Microsoft, Cisco and others — running multi-year beta trials in production, with direct access to the people who make the software we operate.  This all drives our entirely autonomous in-house team every day to collaboratively solve issues before they become problems  

JJ Food Service IT Group in Enfield EN3 7XY

The Group has three teams: Development, Infrastructure and Programme Management. Each team has core functional areas that map back to the business.  We’ll be looking at the unique challenges and outstanding solutions of each team, but today we’ll be focusing about Development and its four sub-areas (Part 2 will cover the other teams).

Development Team - On your marks… Get Set… GO!

The Dev team are very much working in a Developer-Driven manner, rooted in the action-packed scrum style of committing to finding a solution in a period of time, and racing together to achieve that goal.  The coding style and thought processes we use is also based around test-driven development, in a continuum of our collaborative team culture.

What this really comes down to is that developers must have a deep level of what it’s like in the trenches — from call centers to sales forecasting — so we can have a substantive dialog within our company, about the problem and possible solutions in real time.  We believe this model can be challenging to those lazy, out-of-practice IT losers who sit in the back doing nothing… you know the ones.  But for clever Devs looking to do something amazing every day, it empowers us to exercise the bounds creativity and earn our autonomy.

The Dev team have four focus areas: Customer Facing, Ops, Supply Chain and Business Intelligence.  Rather than dividing into separate groups, our members work interdisciplinarily towards their talents and interests to achieve multi-task goals together.

Tooling C#, JavaScript, X++, T-SQL, CFML, WCF, ASP.Net MVC, .net 4, .net compact framework, REST, SOAP, Microsoft SQL, SQL Mobile, SSAS, SSIS, SSRS, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, Atlassian and Team Foundation Server (TFS)

Current tooling we have in the Dev team are C#, JavaScript, X++, T-SQL, Coldfusion, WCF, ASP.Net MVC, .net 4, .net compact framework, REST, SOAP, Microsoft SQL, SQL Mobile, SSAS, SSIS, SSRS, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, Atlassian and Team Foundation Server

Customer Facing

We realize, as great as we are together huddled in our little clubhouse, our business thrives from successful interaction with customers, and as such this is a priority for our team.  This includes customer marketing, order capture (through phone/web/orders), payment, order check out and our customer service cycle.  We have built an impressive arsenal, including our award-winning approach to order capturing, a progressive pricing engine aimed to change behavior, call centre management, unique REST Shopping Cart Public API’s, as well as the normal customer reports, end-user logins, mobile apps, field sales systems and electronic marketing.  And you thought it would sound boring!

One the key goals is to have single code path that is followed no matter how the customer access our services, allowing seamless transitions between channel and devices. We working to achieve this by having a first class Public REST API’s (a way to let others talk to your system) exposing our business logic inside Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Supply Chain Functions

At the end of the day, we want to boast systems that allow our partners to succeed.  We find this is accomplished most effectively by ensuring we have the right amount of stock in the right place at the right time.  Overstock runs a cost for the company and uses up precious space, but if ever understocked we obviously lose out on sales opportunities.

So our Supply Chain focuses on Product Onboarding, Master Planning, Forecasting, In-bound Delivery Booking, Vendor Self Service and Cost Price Management.  We are currently working to improve our forecast tools using data-mining algorithms and storage system that allow us to explode and summarize data crazy fast.  How fast?  We just did it…. That fast.

Business intelligence (BI) Functions

BI is always working to be a champion of the business at-large, sitting down with our C.E.O. a number of times a week to take a macro-approach.  They are wizards at taking all the massive amount of system data that comes from our team and successfully communicating and disseminating it throughout the rest of our organization.  At JJ Food Service we use a mix of tools from  SQL Server 2012, SSRS, SSAS, PowerView, PowerPivot, Sharepoint and Excel Web Service — all to ensure that the people who need the information have it whenever and wherever.

Team using Quest Spotlight to see WAIT stats of SQL 2008 R2

Team looking at Quest Foglight Performance Analysis for SQL Server

Ops Functions

Ops Function take the orders we have captured from our customer and make sure we deliver on that promise… literally.  Our system manages getting the right people and resources to the right place, with software to empower them to follow the path from our door to theirs.  Ops functions related to our Operation Group, HR Group, Finance Group, QA Group and Transport Group.

In the Wholesale and Foodservice sector, a majority of employees are not based in the office, and as such having limited or no access to any company systems. Delivery Drivers spend over 99% of their time out of the office, and as the face of the company, and end of our distribution chain, we need to empower them with all the tools to access everything they need to satisfy our customers.

Most delivery processes were being done on paper — literal carbon copies like something out of the 1970’s… and unsurprisingly, as you’re only as good as the most up-to-date information you have, we had more  bottlenecks in  our  business than a Coca-Cola plant.  Not to mention that the  ERP  system  didn’t track the simplest live information about our driver’s activities, so we had to contact drivers regularly on their mobile phones, disrupting them from their core duties.  To most companies, an unavoidable flaw… but to our team — an opportunity.

The Gantt chart on the right shows real time delivery performance.
We are monitoring the planned delivery times with the actual delivery time. Blocks in Green show when we are on time, Blocks in Yellow show when we are early and Blocks in Red show when we are late

Rif Kiamil CIO talking about Microsoft AX2012. AX is at the center of our IT systems. 99% of all business logic and business data stored in AX2012 giving us a single version of the truth.

RIP our CAT, Cisco.

Kudos to my Infrastructure Team

Thursday 12th April 15:06 GMT, we lost a core Cisco Catalyst 4510. It had around 344 connections directly hanging off, anaggregation point for wireless networks and was trunking a few 10GB interfaces.  But The Infrastructure Team adrenaline kicked in, and they were able to unboot all the cables and unrack a49.8 kg (108 lb) beast of a switch in a flash. Kudos to my infrastructure team, it’s a very proud moment when you see how fast (physically and mentally) the team can get things done when under so much pressure.

We had a feeling that the 7-year-old switch was going to die very soon. Two weeks ago a simple command to change VLAN on a port coursed the Cisco switch to reboot. We had ordered replacement hardware, but beforehand we neededto make architectural choices of what type kit going to replace it with.

Architectural Choices; “chassis switch v stackable switch” and “lowing cost per port”

Since 1999, all our core switches have been chassis based. At first it was HP and then became Cisco.

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