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Retail Group Turns to Automation to Manage Growth through Acquisition

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Retail organizations are facing constant demands to reduce costs and increase profitability; this is especially true of retailers with a brick-and-mortar mall presence.

Competing against numerous online, low-cost retailers, such as Amazon, and brick-and-mortar discount stores, such as Marshalls, is a constant battle. The cost-saving initiative is a challenge across the board in the retail organization, but really it all starts in the IT department. Transformations in IT in the world of retail drive innovation and agility. Savings starting at the IT level can keep a retailer afloat during these challenging times.

Retail Growing Pains via Acquisition

When Rolta AdvizeX started working with this leading national specialty retailer five years ago, they were already using VMware vSphere®. By building their virtualization strategy, Rolta AdvizeX was able to help them take their existing technology investment and make it cutting-edge. Since then this organization has achieved tremendous growth through an aggressive acquisition strategy of new brands. Revenue grew almost $2-billion in just 48 months. When rapid growth is coupled with acquisitions, it can lead to an IT nightmare wrought with errors that add up to a lot of dollars wasted by the parent company.

Unfortunately, for this organization with nearly 5,000 stores across the United States, the explosive growth had triggered inconsistencies in deployment of their IT resulting in multiple outages, which forced the entire IT team to work reactively rather than proactively. Migrating and merging data from new brands, while also consolidating IT departments along with software and hardware infrastructures created the opportunity for a great deal of errors. The organization had also decided to outsource some tasks to India, which only amplified the challenge adding language barriers, time zone considerations and bringing new processes online with a new group on the other side of the world.

Meanwhile, this corporate retail group is extremely dedicated to running a specific set of standards when it comes to data management. They run a very tight ship and stress both operational and environmental consistencies to achieve the level of standards they strive to meet amongst the brands. For example:

  • Servers must be configured identically;
  • Operating Systems must be the same version for everyone; and
  • Patches and upgrades must be done at the same time across the brands.

The retail group also maintained one reporting system across all brands to enable transparency for its quarterly and annual reports to the public markets. Excellence is something this organization takes seriously and there was no option for their IT organization to fall behind.

The Solution—Automation

During each acquisition, the number one goal for the IT team was to consolidate the data into the retail group’s existing data center. Data migration and consolidation is a very cumbersome task. Rolta AdvizeX proposed automation as the logical step for the customer to pursue in order to:

  • Increase operational efficiencies with one set of standards for the entire organization;
  • Provide tremendous positive capital expenditures;
  • Reduce errors by eliminating manual tasks, thereby, reducing costs; and
  • Establish consistency throughout the brands.

Modernizing the Data Center with VMware

Our technologists proposed the retail group automate with VMware vRealize® Automation™ and vRealize Operations™, part of VMware vRealize Suite. Implementing vRealize allowed the retailer to create a very simple, minimal task set for providing virtual machines (VMs), as opposed to the manual process they went through previously. In a retail setting, there is no room for manual error-prone processes. Supporting 2,000 VMs in two data centers and 18,000 users, these manual tasks could add up to an abundance of errors. The new automated process minimized risk and decreased opportunity for errors. VMware NSX® is also being deployed, as security was also a factor, considering the retail industry is one of the largest targets for cybercriminals.

In early 2018, the VMware Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) has been implemented across 25% of the organization. VMware NSX is only running within the Virtual Desktop Interfaces. In the future, the retailer plans to expand the current deployment. Additionally, a new data center is being constructed in Mumbai, India. The new data center will require virtualization, automation and standardization.

Teamwork is critical for success. Every week, Rolta AdvizeX, VMware and the retailer’s IT team meet to discuss any major milestones, upcoming challenges or critical items. Rolta AdvizeX functions as part of the retailer’s internal team to ensure success as the organization continues its growth.

The Rolta AdvizeX Advantage

Since 2012, Rolta AdvizeX has been meeting twice a week with the IT team at this major specialty retailer. Rolta AdvizeX’s strategy is to provide value added services that fit the specific needs and requirements of organizations. For this group, it began by supporting their storage, compute and virtualization solutions, along with numerous consulting activities. As the retail group’s business requirements and landscape has changed, so have the requirements and demands upon the IT staff. Due to our longstanding relationship with the organization, our technical team is aware of and fully understands the business drivers, priorities and current infrastructure.

Rolta AdvizeX is one of a select group with three VCDX professionals on staff. Our knowledge and commitment to VMware runs deep. For organizations, like this national retailer, the hand-in-hand partnership between Rolta AdvizeX and VMware brings unmeasurable benefits. An onsite testing environment focused on VMware products including, vRealize Automation, vRealize Operations, NSX, and VSAN™ was created. At weekly meetings, Rolta AdvizeX and VMware share tasks as they plan, build, and deploy this customer’s solutions. As a recipient of VMware’s Global Partner Innovation Award in the Partner Professional Services category, Rolta AdvizeX is qualified to add value to any VMware deployment.

For Rolta AdvizeX, “customer for life” is more than a marketing slogan. It is our driving philosophy, and one that has served our customers well over the last four decades. Rolta AdvizeX’s highly trained technology experts provide individualized solutions for our customers and truly become a part of the team. To learn more about how we can help, contact your local Rolta AdvizeX representative or visit us online at advizex.com. ▪