to use IT to spur growth is overhauling its entire IT infrastructure, to introduce new, more efficient technologies and business processes in support of growth plans.

The world's largest online retailer of branded intimate apparel needed to introduce resiliency, scalability and increased management capability to its data centre environment in response to the ambitious growth strategy formed two years ago as part of a venture capital investment.

It is now deploying a new HP blade infrastructure to new co-located data centre facilities alongside work to roll out an improved data, applications and IT management environment.

Figleaves' existing infrastructure had grown organically over its ten-year history, according to Peter Pedersen, chief technology officer. He spoke exclusively to IT PRO about how the infrastructure deployment would help modernise the function IT provides to the business.

"As the infrastructure grew over the years, it became cumbersome, expensive and difficult to maintain," Pedersen said. "The work we're doing with HP will modernise the infrastructure so it's as economical as possible, enable us to introduce new capabilities faster and give us headroom for big events during the year, like sales."

Pedersen used his prior experience of working with HP to specify the new infrastructure, which is being duplicated at new co-located data centre facilities to add disaster recovery and business continuity capacity.

The e-tailer will also use VMware's virtualisation platform, HP's BladeSystem storage area network (SAN) and HP Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager to eliminate the management processes required to change servers, enhance local area network (LAN) and (SAN) management and improve systems availability.

The new HP Adaptive Infrastructure deployment is made up of 33 HP ProLiant BL460 c-Class blade servers within three HP BladeSystem c7000 enclosures, two HP StorageWorks 4400 Enterprise Virtual Arrays (EVA) and an HP StorageWorks Modular Smart Array (MSL) 2024 tape library.

"We've literally just gone into the first period of testing," added Pedersen. "We've been pretty ambitious from a user interface point of view, to try and give end users an experience that's really cutting edge. But the work will also eventually allow the virtualisation of our other [non customer-facing, e-commerce platform] servers more easily, saving on maintenance, costs and energy."

While the HP roll out is planned for completion in the second quarter of this year, Figleaves is also integrating new SAP enterprise resource management (ERP) and ATG e-commerce software with the help of developers, Spindrift.

He concluded: "Our IT environment will be much more data driven, where pages can be put together dynamically. The customer experience will be much smoother and our merchandisers will be able to change content dynamically, without having to translate what they want to IT."

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.