As one of Denmark’s leading retailers, Coop needed to ensure the best customer service at all times – and that requires keeping the infrastructure up and running continuously.
In this guest blog from our partner Atea, who worked closely with Coop on the project, they talk about the challenges the supermarket faced – and why a virtual storage solution with vSAN helped to address these.
How to create a digital business supported with the right technology? That’s one of the most common conversations we have with our customers at Atea. We’re finding most business leaders understand the need for evolved infrastructures that can support agility and help them remain competitive, but it’s in the low-margin retail space we’re especially seeing calls for achieving this with the lowest possible cost.
So how can retailers create an environment that will help them move fast, but won’t have an impact on those profit margins? Let me talk to you about our work in the space with Coop Denmark, a customer of ours for the past five years.
Coop had to find innovative ways of ensuring it can cut costs while delivering great customer experience. Achieving this in a highly-saturated retail market is no mean feat, especially when you consider the fact that it needs to tackle an increasingly complex range of systems, applications and processes that require a strong, resilient infrastructure – all the way from stock control and POS terminals to supply chain integration.
For years, Coop had to rely on infrastructure that enables its systems to work all of the time. After all, if just one of its 5,100 point of sale (POS) terminals in one of its 1,200 stores goes down, not only does the company risk losing money, it can also suffer reputational damage which can affect customer loyalty in the long-term. Stopping a customer from buying their essentials just once can prevent Coop from making money from that customer ever again.
For Coop, the challenge to ensure ongoing business continuity grew exponentially as the retailer expanded and it soon became apparent that it needed more storage to ensure it would always be ‘on’. One solution to this was to enable expansion by repeatedly building virtual machines on top of physical infrastructure – but this meant that its estate was tough to manage and hard to control because a lack of visibility. It was also a more expensive method of expanding storage.
A helping hand
It was clear to Coop that a new way of thinking was required when it came to managing its storage – and it was at this point they came to us at Atea for a solution. Our early conversations with Coop taught us that it didn’t just want a solution to fix IT system crashes in-store, instead, it wanted a solution that ensures stability all of the time – thus reducing the need to fix IT issues. We needed to offer a proactive rather than a reactive solution.
Once we were on board, we quickly suggested that Coop build its datacentre on a virtual storage solution with VMware vSAN. With the help of VMware we were able to show how a software-defined approach to storage would help to create a more agile, secure and more reliable business – all while saving money.
A project of this scale can at times feel daunting to many but we always work as closely with VMware as possible to ensure a streamlined process. VMware worked on the design, while we handled the implementation. This was our first experience of deploying vSAN at that capacity, performance and scale – and it was a huge success.
One of the key vSAN features Coop wanted to exploit was failure domains; the ability multiple data centres where if one site ever goes down, a second can carry on completely uninterrupted while intelligently creating and keeping a back-up of data. This would have been incredibly difficult to do with a legacy storage vendor and could have caused a lot of business disruption. Instead, Coop now can ensure that in the rare instance that one of its data centres does down, its systems will remain active – meaning that transactions can be processed and that customers are left satisfied with the customer service they’ve received.
Atea is proud to have helped Coop to have moved towards software-defined storage that underpins every business process – all the way from the tills in the stores, through to the provisioning of goods from the warehouses and ultimately the customer experience.