A PERPETUAL EDGE ON GROWTH

How CSI is enabling a major supermarket chain to achieve long-term profitable growth while providing ethically sourced food and reducing waste.

Our Client: is proud to offer shopping convenience in supermarkets and franchised stores as well as a thriving online service – supported by innovative product development and a commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

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Context

The intensive competition in the UK supermarket sector is impacted by changing shopping habits and consumer uncertainty.

To sustain growth, our client focuses investment on expanding and enhancing store footprint, finding new online channels,  introducing new and unique food lines, developing its supply chain and raising public awareness through sustainability initiatives.

Goal

To ensure that all critical business systems are continuously available and perform at a high level – and in doing so, minimise any negative impact on customer service in-store and online.

Challenge

Our client runs core business systems on reliable IBM servers and storage in two environments: HR and warehouse management applications run on AIX, with stock control and critical supply chain systems on IBM i. The client operates High Availability (HA) production and development clusters across two geographically separated data centres.

While the IBM platforms had provided many years of service, the POWER7 system was nearing end of support and the performance of XIV storage was slow when compared to newer technology; an infrastructure refresh was required. The transition to the new system had to be complete before the peak shopping period in the December holidays. This tight time-scale added further complexity to the project.

OUR NEW SYSTEMS AND FLASH STORAGE ARE KEEPING ALL KEY SERVICES UP AND RUNNING - EVEN UNDER THE UNPRECEDENTED CONDITIONS, WE’RE EXPERIENCING DURING LOCKDOWN.
WITH EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCE FROM ALL CORE APPLICATIONS, OUR STORES ARE BEING SUPPLIED, ONLINE ORDERS HAVE DOUBLED AND FAMILIES ARE BEING FED.

Solution

CSI designed a new platform for critical workloads that replaced the current IBM POWER7 with POWER9 technology and introduced an all-flash IBM V7000 system for AIX storage. A key factor in the implementation plan was the consideration of the four geo-dispersed AIX clusters and IBM i High Availability that provides continuous protection for the client’s core systems.

The first phase of the upgrade moved all AIX data from XIV spinning disk to V7000 flash storage. Following the successful data migration, POWER9 systems were installed at each data centre. Throughout the entire upgrade, all systems were available and HA and disaster recovery remained in place.

Outcomes

The new platform delivers benefits in application performance, cost and environmental impact. With IBM POWER9 compute and faster all-flash storage, complex reports can be generated in less than half the time when compared with using the old platform. Cost savings have been achieved through reduced maintenance, as well as less data centre space, power and cooling requirements than the older systems.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought about a surge in sales – especially online – exceeding traditional seasonal peaks. Our client also had the challenge of employing hundreds of additional temporary staff. However, the virtualisation technology in the new platform absorbed the additional load without any degradation of performance across all applications.

41%

Private-label products have a 41% share of total spend in UK supermarkets – with lower manufacturing costs compared to top brands.

1 / 7

Food and grocery is one of the UK’s largest private sector employers – one in every seven jobs is in the industry.

£10.2BN

In March 2020, UK consumers spent over £10.2bn in supermarkets - more than March 2019’s total of £1.3bn.