back to article Specsavers embraces Azure and AWS, recoils at Oracle's 'wow' factor

Oracle's cloud has been judged too risky, too expensive and not up to scratch by Specsavers, which is aiming to complete an AWS and Azure combo next year. And, in another plus for Microsoft, Specsavers (the British optical retail chain) is adopting Office 365 over Google Docs, saying Microsoft is cheaper. The move comes as …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Not so much 'Should have gone to Specsavers' as 'Have gone to AWS'

  2. AMBxx Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Legal stuff on patient records

    Any Specsavers franchisees on here?

    For everyone else, Specsavers is a franchise, the practices aren't owned (all the franchise fees flow tax free to the channel islands).

    Who is responsible for the patient data that AWS/Azure gather? Is it the franchise or some vague corporate body that's part of Specsavers? What about NHS patients?

    Don't forget that the Optometrist isn't just finding a prescription - they're often first to pick up diabetes or brain tumours.

    'Should have gone elsewhere' to keep your data private.

  3. gv


    "Pavitt – a former HMRC CIO and director general of change – is leaving Specsavers at the end of June, two years after joining."

    Having punted the tech platform into the cloud, the exec is not sticking around to see the results/challenges...

    1. Dr Who

      Re: Interesting

      Quite. And the poor sod who is going to have to pick up the pieces is probably the one who wanted to keep things in house all along. Bit like Farage securing the out vote and then buggering right off to let everyone else sort out the impending catastrophe.

      Don't get me wrong, I don't thing cloud is actually the real risk here. Revolutionary rather than evolutionary change at scale is as we all know an excellent recipe for potential disaster. If I was on the board of Specsavers I wouldn't let anyone draw up the plan if they weren't going to be around when it's executed. Madness!

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: Interesting

        They'll still collect the franchise fees regardless...

    2. Lusty Silver badge

      Re: Interesting

      Usually people like that are brought in precisely because existing staff are unwilling to get on board with the corporate strategy and unable to properly explain why not. There are lots of people making careers out of being the person kicking off these changes. Once the company is properly bought into the strategy they can leave because their (quire rare in IT) skills are no longer required - that skillset being forcing strategy through. The person taking over needs the skills in IT to make the solution work, and those skills are widely available.

      Whether the corporate strategy of moving to the cloud at all costs is correct is another discussion. I was simply addressing the fact that he isn't running away, he's done what he was there to do and the board would have known that up front.

    3. taxman
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Interesting

      More interestingly will Louise McCarthy be leaving too. She was under Pavitt in TfL, HMRC, Aviva and now Specsavers.

      Track record suggests.....

      And could Pavitt return to HMRC now Dearnley has left?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interesting

      I'm sure I read something about this being his MO in Private eye. Seem to remember TfL and HMRC being left in the lurch. Don't know about Aviva.

      1. Lusty Silver badge

        Re: Interesting

        The thing those companies all have in common though is that these days they have a great user experience that's flexible and moves with the times. Not sure I'd consider that "in the lurch" from a board perspective so much as having a competetive advantage and lower overall costs.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would say it's a bit shortsighted moving everything to the cloud.

    Sorry but I couldn't think of anything more cornea.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      You touched an (optic) nerve

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Eye didn't ex-specs anything better to be honest.

  5. 0laf Silver badge

    0365 can be bought and configured to manage personal information correctly.

    Doesn't mean they have done that.

  6. Walter Bishop Silver badge

    Google Docs more expensive than Office 365

    What's the annual cost per user for 'Google Docs' as compared to 'Office 365'?

    1. Michael Duke

      Re: Google Docs more expensive than Office 365

      It was adding the Skype for Business functionality to Google that made O365 cheaper.

      Not unusual with Microsoft.

      1. Lusty Silver badge

        Re: Google Docs more expensive than Office 365

        In fairness to MS, Google are perfectly free to launch a messaging and VOIP service to compete. They have the resources and the skills.

        In this instance, it's not dodgy business and bundling from MS; their catalogue and pricing actually make a lot of sense.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Google Docs more expensive than Office 365

          Yes, MS may indeed be cheaper.

          However relying on the "cloud" and MS instead of their own system might be a false saving. That and the IBM deal may break the law.

          There is no evidence that IBM's hyped system delivers anything yet. Specsavers are are essentially going to give IBM data and outcomes (with INFORMED permission of customers?) that eventually IBM MIGHT make sense of.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Google Docs more expensive than Office 365

            "However relying on the "cloud" and MS instead of their own system might be a false saving. "

            in 2010 you'd have had a point. In 2017? There's sufficient data to show that while cloud does go down* it's generally better service overall than on premises systems were for the vast majority of companies. O365 is in use by a huge number of companies and users and from personal experience the telephony is better than what came before as it's being run by the best people available, not the available people in the team and a 5 day course.

            *Google especially loves going down, no such thing as bad PR and all that. They are exeptionally bad though...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Google Docs more expensive than Office 365

              O365 is in use by a huge number of companies and users and from personal experience the telephony is better than what came before as it's being run by the best people available, not the available people in the team and a 5 day course.

              You are talking VOIP (Lync), here, right ? ROFL

              as it's being run by the best people available We had trouble getting proper support, not sure where you work, to our standards MS support personnel were numpties ...

      2. Ben1892

        Re: Google Docs more expensive than Office 365

        Yep, it's the cloud PBX to PSTN equivalent functionality that Google haven't been able to get the price right on - they'd be pretty much on a par (O365 E1 and Google for Work) if you didn't need to phone anyone outside of IP Telephony

  7. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge


    Warms IBM Watson for patent data probe

    "Patent" or "Patient"?

    Should have gone to Specsavers

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Subheading

      Eye see what you did there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Subheading


  8. Derichleau

    Just don't ask them about their data retention policy.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oracle gun to the head

    I empathise hugely on the Oracle price gouging and gun to the head experience.

    We have been through this process twice now at my UK PLC and will never use another Oracle product again as a result.

    1. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Oracle gun to the head

      An old saw: Q: What do you call an Oracle customer? A: A Hostage.

      Mine's the one with Codd and Date books in the pockets. >>=====>

    2. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Oracle gun to the head

      And when they're in the cloud, they'll just have lock in and vulnerability to price gouging to AWS and Azure instead, unless they reimplement their projects twice* to make them work properly in both environments..

      *Even if the application code is the same, bits of the infrastructure will need to be different eg networking, safe storage of keys etc.

  10. Korev Silver badge

    Which group needed training?

    Office 365 has meant staff need retraining, and Pavitt said his training budget has increased 300 per cent for 2017 and 2018 – although he didn't give a figure.

    Is this for IT staff or end users?

  11. Korev Silver badge

    I Vs we?

    "Six months ago nobody on my service desk had experience in Office 365. Today I have retrained 75 people," Pavitt said.

    He makes it sound as if he did all the training himself, or is he just taking the credit for his team?

    1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      Re: I Vs we?

      Well more along the lines of, I have caused 75 people to be retrained.

      He summonsed 75 people into a hall and told them that they would be learning O365.

  12. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    A sight for sore management...

    "Specsavers has developed a single customer record using Oracle's Customer Hub (OCH) that will be rolled out in the UK later this year and the rest of the world in 2018."

    It'll only have taken them 7 years then to get that in.

  13. Ragarath

    Who's network?

    All data will remain within Specsavers' secure network

    Erm, no it won't it will remain in Google's and Microsoft's networks. You mentioned you were getting rid of your capacity to hold this data.

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Who's network?

      No he didn't. They're keeping some data centres (if indeed those can be called their network and not "BT's network" - very few people own their own national ducting). You can move a lot of business housekeeping to AWS/Azure without moving the patient data.

      1. Ragarath

        Re: Who's network?

        Specsavers is putting all new apps on AWS and Azure, with existing apps being rewritten rather than ported. Forty per cent of the IT estate is currently non-cloud and the rest is set to float by the end of 2018. Specsavers has seven data centres globally but will retain just two for backup.

        To follow up, I assume you mean this part. These are kept for "Backup" not for holding the data.

        And why are the data centres BT's? You normally host your own kit in a datacentre and yes the connections between these are leased but that has nothing to do with the stored data.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can see clearly now...

    The wow is gone. I can see no more obstacles in my way. It's gonna be a bright, bright, bright, bright sun shiny day :-)

    I don't care too much about Amazon and Microsoft's online services, but I dislike Oracle even more. So yeah, I'm happy enough about that :)

  15. GrapeBunch Bronze badge


    Google Hangouts, here in Canada, is as free as Skype, and the quality (both video and audio) is as good. It runs on a browser, no program(me) required. Hangouts user interface not so great, it's almost as if they *don't* want you to use it. I think I preferred it when it was Google Voice or Google Talk. But in any case we're talking free vs. free. Is something different in the UK?

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Hangouts

      For a largeish business you probably don't want to use a "free" service which Google may get rid of whenever it choses.

      We can read about this in Google Reader discuss it further in Google Wave :)

      1. Hans 1 Silver badge

        Re: Hangouts

        I saw some document on OneDrive Groups mentioning it as well ... see, I can do it, too ...

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