Presentation: IOT and Edge Compute at Chick-fil-A

Track: Architectures You've Always Wondered About

Location: Broadway Ballroom North Center, 6th fl.

Duration: 10:35am - 11:25am

Day of week: Tuesday

Level: Intermediate

Persona: Architect, DevOps Engineer

What You’ll Learn

  • Learn how we manage thousands of application instances distributed in micro data centers around the world.
  • Understand the challenges Chick-fil-A faced adopting a large IOT project and the ultimate solutions used.
  • Hear how Chick-fil-A handled challenges around edge compute, discovery, security, and analytics in the project.


Internet of Things (IoT) is radically changing the way Chick-fil-A does business. At Chick-fil-A, we see IoT as a strategic capability to enable in-restaurant interactions, from the front-of-house customer experience to back-of-house kitchen automation. IoT discussions often stop at data collection, but the real value comes when IoT can enable new interactions and drive automation.

In this session, you will learn how Chick-fil-A architected our IoT platform and created a digital ecosystem that enables our business to deploy IoT solutions to restaurants. We will talk about our approach to secure device onboarding, how we’ve applied Identity Management to IoT, how we govern interactions between different “things". There are unique security challenges related to IOT.

We also have interesting requirements around resiliency - with 2000 restaurants, it’s quite likely that some of them will be unable to connect to cloud services. I will talk about how we provide a Docker-based edge compute infrastructure by installing some servers in each restaurant that can support business-critical processes even when “offline”. . We will also touch on how we collect and forward data from “things” to the cloud to apply machine learning and AI to make better business decisions.


QCon: What does it mean to be an Enterprise Architect for Chick-Fil-A?

Brian: In my role, I'm focused on looking at emerging technologies and connecting them with Chick-fil-A’s current and future business needs. The role is really about making a connection between the two, and bridging the gaps that exist by developing strategies and roadmaps and delivering new capabilities. IOT is a great example of where this idea has been applied over the past year. We have other Enterprise Architects that focus less on the new capabilities and more on aligning the business areas with our overall architecture strategy. They also do technology roadmapping and other things like that. Overall, our team is a great mix of being able to go deep into technology and then up to the business leadership level, and everything in between. We just want to have a significant impact on Chick-fil-A’s business.

QCon: You mention IOT in your abstract. Can you explain a bit more about the context of you're talking about with IOT?

Brian: We're specifically focused on IOT in our restaurants, which is part of our strategy as we think about the Chick-fil-A restaurant of the future. So we're thinking about the Operator (which is the owner of the restaurant experience), the team members who work in the restaurant, and, in some cases, the customer interactions with the restaurant.

When we say IOT, we specifically mean anything that's connected and talking to each other. It could be sensors that are collecting data and sending it out for analytics, but it could also be different devices like kitchen equipment or even something impacting the customer experience. Basically, these are things that interact with each other to complete some larger process.

QCon: When you say restaurant of the future what does that mean?

Brian: I think technology is becoming increasingly critical to all businesses. In Chick-fil-A's world, this translates to: “What does a digital transformation look like?” So when I say the restaurant of the future, I'm saying that over the next several year's technology is going to have a big impact on a lot of the operational experiences at a restaurant. So, the term is really about answering the question, “what does Chick-fil-A look like in three to five years?”. IOT is one of the huge pieces of that overall transformation effort. Without it we really can't get where we need to go, so that's why it's such a critical piece of the restaurant of the future.

QCon: What types of things do you plan to discuss?

Brian: I'll discuss our container-based edge compute architecture (sometimes called Fog Computing), our Restaurant IOT Platform (which includes how we broker interactions and manage device onboarding/registration for each of our micro data centers), and some of the analytics we're producing and collecting from these areas. There is an interesting story here around how we're applying machine learning that I may also touch on in the talk.

In all cases, I'm planning to briefly hit on the landscape and then go deep into these architectures.

Speaker: Brian Chambers

Enterprise Architect @Chick-fil-A, Inc.

Brian Chambers is an Enterprise Architect at Chick-fil-A in Atlanta, GA. He focuses on delivering new platforms and capabilities like Self-Service Analytics, Cloud, Internet of Things to the business. Most recently, he has been focused on building out an Internet of Things Platform to enable Chick-fil-A’s next generation restaurant. He also enjoys spending time researching and understanding emerging technologies and finding ways to integrate them into Chick-fil-A’s technology strategy.

Find Brian Chambers at


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