Published on 04-Sep-2013
"If we needed to do anything with the new data center, [IBM] handled it. And I think that the project ended up costing us less than it would have with another provider just because of the quality of personnel that IBM put on the project." - Don Martin, director of IT technical services and IT security, Charlotte Russe, Inc.
Charlotte Russe, Inc.
Looking good doesn’t have to empty your wallet; at least, that’s the belief of Charlotte Russe, Inc., a retail chain that caters to young women in their teens and 20s. The business, named after a sweet French dessert, works to clothe its customers in the latest fashion trends at value-oriented prices offered at more than 500 stores in malls across the United States.
As it planned to relocate its IT operations to a new data center 300 miles away, Charlotte Russe, Inc. was looking for help to implement a new hardware and network platform and migrate its critical application suite.
IBM® Global Technology Services® – Integrated Technology Services and IBM Global Business Services® helped the retailer configure its new data center environment and transfer its existing software.
The IBM staff completed the transition two weeks ahead of schedule, saving Charlotte Russe both time and money. In addition, the documentation delivered by IBM helps the company with its planning.
Looking good doesn’t have to empty your wallet; at least, that’s the belief of Charlotte Russe, Inc., a retail chain that caters to young women in their teens and 20s. The business, named after a sweet French dessert, works to clothe its customers in the latest fashion trends at value-oriented prices offered at more than 500 stores in malls across the United States. “We’re in the fast fashion business,” elaborates Don Martin, director of IT technical services and IT security at Charlotte Russe.
Finding the right fit
As a clothing retailer, Charlotte Russe had maintained a modest IT department, choosing to focus its internal staff on strategic projects while outsourcing more routine tasks, such as the management of its data center environment. After going private, Charlotte Russe planned to upgrade and add new technology to support its business, causing the organization to rethink its managed services environment.
Explains Martin: “We were experiencing issues with day-to-day service, as well as delays on projects. We did not have enough control of the environment.” This lack of control complicated the company’s ability to roll out new systems and services, impacting its competitive edge. In response, Charlotte Russe chose to change service providers and migrate from the existing site in Tempe, Arizona to a new vendor with a collocated facility in Las Vegas.
A tight deadline
Of course, relocating the entire IT architecture of a business to a site more than 300 miles away is no easy task. Martin adds: “My group was still trying to run the business and support new projects. We had to be moved and ready before our busy season started in July, so we had a very tight timeline. The project had to be successful, and we decided that we needed additional resources to help us.”
At first, Charlotte Russe coordinated its migration plans with an outside provider, but the retailer quickly identified that the plan needed focused application migration support, as the Charlotte Russe IT staff was already at capacity. In addition, it needed a vendor who could react quickly and supply resources in a number of areas should the need arise.
“We had a problem,” notes Martin. “We identified this additional need in January, and we were scheduled to get the data center moved in the April-to-June timeframe.” Needing to act quickly, Charlotte Russe reached out to IBM because it had consistently delivered high-quality support to the retailer in the past. “We said, ‘IBM, we need help—how quickly can you make this happen?’” recalls Martin.
IBM responded quickly, delivering a full application migration, hardware refresh and a new network within the tight deadline. Comments Martin: “We originally scheduled with IBM to complete the project by May 31, and our final migration was completed the second week of May. So we got it done two weeks early, and that’s a tremendous savings not only because the project finished early but if the project would have slipped, we would have been paying in excess of USD100,000 a month in additional costs to maintain both locations.”
Time for a change
Operating under an IBM Site and Facilities Services contract, an IBM Global Technology Services – Integrated Technology Services team performed a thorough application performance optimization consulting (APOC) analysis and documentation of the retailer’s existing software infrastructure as a first step for the migration. After this analysis, both IBM and Charlotte Russe could readily identify application dependencies and data flows throughout the existing environment, and using this information, the IBM staff helped develop a migration timeline built around three distinct phases. Charlotte Russe also worked with IBM Global Business Services – Application Management Services to create a detailed test plan and test scripts for each wave of the migration.
Meanwhile, at the new Las Vegas facility, IBM helped coordinate multiple vendors to build out the new network infrastructure, the underlying cabling, routing and security appliances; deployed new IBM Power Systems™ hardware; and aided with the implementation of a new backup environment for the retailer’s core business systems.
A great new fit
By joining with IBM, Charlotte Russe gained a new sense of liberty that helps the company operate in a more agile manner to change with the trends of its industry. The business can more easily launch new applications and systems within the environment to encourage business growth. “Right now we’re working on a replacement of our point-of-sale system,” adds Martin. “We believe that project will make the business more profitable, but we could not start it until we were up and running in Las Vegas.”
Charlotte Russe continues to take advantage of the extensive application documentation and analysis delivered by the IBM team to streamline management efforts, define interdependencies and provide issue resolution. Comments Martin: “It gives us a tremendous advantage for troubleshooting issues because we know exactly what we’ve got and how they’re interfaced. Since the relocation, we’ve had a couple of situations where we’re doing application upgrades, and we already have the test plans for those because they are the same ones IBM used. So we save time in application testing.”
Altogether, Charlotte Russe is pleased with its choice of IBM. Perhaps Martin best sums up the experience when he recalls: “IBM was really an extension of our staff at that time. If we needed hardware, they helped us find it. If we needed to do anything with the new data center, they handled it. And I think that the project ended up costing us less than it would have with another provider just because of the quality of personnel that IBM put on the project.”
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Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
AMS: Cloud Services, GTS Integrated Technology Services, GTS ITS Site & Facilities: Data Center & Facilities Strategy
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