Retailer strengthens supply chain with IBM systems and services

Linking leading-edge IBM System z servers and existing peripherals yields new efficiencies

Published on 22-Feb-2013

"The ESCON to FICON migration solution allowed us to remove bridges and channels without decommissioning the peripherals or having to reload or change the configuration of any of these devices." - IT technical specialist, a multinational retailer

Customer:
A multinational retailer

Industry:
Retail

Overview

Operating in 14 countries as one of the world’s most prominent retailers, this trusted supermarket boasts millions of loyal customers. As part of its commitment to customer satisfaction, the corporation continuously strives to improve its operations in an effort to drive down expenses and remain competitive in the price-sensitive consumer marketplace.

Business need:
To maximize enterprise efficiency, a multinational retailer sought a service provider to integrate its Enterprise Systems Connection (ESCON®) peripheral devices with its new IBM® System z® Fibre Connection (FICON®) servers.

Solution:
The IBM Facilities Cabling Services – ESCON to FICON migration solution connected IBM mainframes to the retailer’s peripherals environment using Optica PRIZM converter technology.

Benefits:
With its additional processing power and converter solution, the retailer can efficiently manage peak trading and new business workloads without the cost of replacing valuable peripheral devices.

Case Study

Operating in 14 countries as one of the world’s most prominent retailers, this trusted supermarket boasts millions of loyal customers. As part of its commitment to customer satisfaction, the corporation continuously strives to improve its operations in an effort to drive down expenses and remain competitive in the price-sensitive consumer marketplace.

Balancing systems capacity to maintain trading channels

For years, the leading multinational retailer relied on IBM mainframe systems to manage its IT production and disaster recovery environments. Integral to the success of the retailer’s supply chain management, the systems act as a powerhouse that transports information between its suppliers, corporate distribution centers and individual stores. As the corporation’s business expanded, the systems’ dwindling capacity caused the retailer to take evasive measures. For example, during a peak trading season, the IT staff offloaded work from its environment to help retain acceptable system availability levels. “Increases in the capacity required to meet the ongoing and peak workloads associated with our main replenishment system meant that it had become necessary to upgrade to our mainframe environment,” states one of the company’s IT technical specialists. The business recognized that it had reached a critical juncture and commissioned a study to identify the best IT environment for its expanding business.

Determining the best value for its business operations

The multinational supermarket examined a variety of hardware and support options to meet its IT needs. At the conclusion of its analysis, the business chose to upgrade its mainframe infrastructure environments with IBM System z10® and IBM System z196 servers. To minimize costs, the retailer decided to retain rather than replace its pool of established peripheral devices located throughout its worldwide distribution depots and 2,700 retail stores. However, the cost-saving tactic left the retailer with a connectivity challenge. “[Our new IBM System z infrastructure] gave us the opportunity to drive down our costs, particularly from a maintenance and software perspective,” said the IT technical specialist. “[However], it also presented a significant challenge. Upgrading the mainframe had implications for the connected devices that were not supportable on this new platform.” The servers are engineered with the IBM FICON protocol using state-of-the-art fibre connections that relay information at rates up to 8 GBps.1 The retailer’s peripherals use an older generation of enterprise system connectivity—IBM ESCON protocol that transmits data at a lower rate. To help resolve the disparity and mitigate risk, the corporation sought the expertise of IBM Global Technology Services® – Integrated Technology Services to perform the critical planning and integration of a converter solution to enable the new mainframes and existing devices to operate together.

Speeding communication interoperability with an IBM solution

To use System z10 and System z196 mainframes with the ESCON connected devices, the IBM Site and Facilities Services team implemented the ESCON to FICON migration service. The solution helped the retailer take advantage of its advanced System z technologies while maintaining access to its ESCON protocol-based assets. The IBM service integrates PRIZM converter technology manufactured by Optica Technologies, Inc., optimizing the client’s new infrastructure environment; yielding improvements in availability, reliability and performance; and matching the retailer’s lifecycle expectations and investment priorities across the board.

After a meticulous planning phase, the team installed and tested the fibre-channel networks in the corporation’s production data center and its disaster recovery site located 350 km away. Representatives from IBM and Optica Technologies collaborated in the implementation and migration of two System z196 servers and three Optica PRIZM converters at the client’s production data center as well as one System z10 mainframe and two Optica PRIZM converters within the retailer’s disaster recovery site. The conversion reduced the number of mainframe servers from seven to four. To optimize the use of the new infrastructure, the team also delivered onsite management training for the multinational retailer’s IT team.

Deriving greater savings potential with one-stop shopping

The end-to-end IBM product and services capabilities helped the multinational retailer reap many benefits, particularly cost savings at levels that would earn the admiration of the savviest shoppers. The System z production and disaster recovery solutions provided the capacity and redundancy to manage peak trading periods and accommodate new business volumes while reducing the risk to the retailer’s supply chain management and operations that could result in potential to lose sales. The Facilities Cabling Services – ESCON to FICON migration solution allowed the retailer to retain its broad base of existing peripheral devices and avoid the cost of device replacement, time-consuming installation and worldwide employee training cycles. The IT technical specialist remarked, “The ESCON to FICON migration solution allowed us to remove bridges and channels without decommissioning the peripherals or having to reload or change the configuration of any of these devices.” The retailer also worked with IBM Global Financing to construct a single funding solution that included all elements of the infrastructure improvement project. The financing agreement helped the retailer invest in the new infrastructure while meeting its existing budget commitments. The retailer used IBM Global Asset Recovery Services to take advantage of a buyback plan for existing IBM mainframe hardware, resulting in a substantial reduction in its overall solution costs.

For more information

To learn more about IBM Global Technology Services, please contact your IBM marketing representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/services/

Additionally, IBM Global Financing can help you acquire the IT solutions that your business needs in the most cost-effective and strategic way possible. We'll partner with credit-qualified clients to customize an IT financing solution to suit your business goals, enable effective cash management, and improve your total cost of ownership. IBM Global Financing is your smartest choice to fund critical IT investments and propel your business forward. For more information, visit: ibm.com/financing

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
System z: System z10, System z: zEnterprise 196 (z196)

Service:
GTS ITS Site & Facilities: Facilities Cabling Services

Footnotes and legal information

http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/z/hardware/connectivity/index.html

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Corporation Global Technology Services Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America February 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, ESCON, FICON, IBM Global Financing, Global Technology Services, System z and System z10 are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The performance data and client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. Optica PRIZM FICON converter is not an IBM product or offering. Optica PRIZM FICON converter is sold or licensed, as the case may be, to users under Optima Technologies, Inc’s terms and conditions, which are provided with the product or offering. Availability, and any and all warranties, services and support for Optica PRIZM FICON converter is the direct responsibility of, and is provided directly to users by, Optima Technologies, Inc.