Scotmid takes back office infrastructure virtual

Independent Scottish co-operative Scotmid has consolidated and virtualised its back-end infrastructure onto a new high-performance platform in support of major business growth.

The company - which employs 4,000 staff and currently has 250 retail outlets as well as property, development and funeral divisions - has overhaul its back office IT as part of a publicly stated goal to expand and improve its business with a 40 million, three-year investment programme.

As part of that business investment, Scotmid decided to replace its aging server estate with new IBM kit to introduce more resilience into its infrastructure in support of the ambitious growth plans.

Scott Kerr, Scotmid IT director, told IT PRO about the project. "The main challenge was running a lot of different servers that all had to be managed separately. Some were old and needed replacing, but we also had no real disaster recovery capability.

"It was obvious something radical was needed to support the implementation of new applications in future without being constricted by the hardware, while the IT resources also have to support the business investment plan."

Scotmid is 90 per cent of the way through implementing a new IBM server and shared storage estate that includes IBM System p, IBM System x Servers, 'n' Series Storage and Tivoli Storage Manager for Backup, together with hardware maintenance from IBM Global Technology Services and replaces its ageing, mixed legacy hardware.

It has deployed VMware software over this infrastructure to reduce the number of physical servers needed and provide significantly better disaster recovery provision, which will be fully online next year.

Kerr added that, as well as reducing the IT overhead going forward, the new systems have reduced the company's power consumption, cooling needs and space requirements.

"Along with a deployment of ADSL broadband to all our stores, the new systems will support the business aims to improve customer service, the availability of stock and the quality of internal information, where the old infrastructure had been holding us back," Kerr said.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.