There’s no doubt that the retail market is unique. How consumers ’consume’ continues to challenge the market and it’s vital that retailers remain agile in order to keep up.
Retail has a complex, evolving consumer landscape; a constant just-in-time stock delivery wheel that cannot pause and pressures on margins and global supply chains that work across borders and currencies. This is all alongside the sector’s total dependence on 15 key trading days a year.
Retail is also data-intensive – and becoming more so. From personal and financial customer details to distribution information and stock data, a retailer generates a huge amount of data every day and unlocking the value of this data is critical to driving more effective trading behaviors.
Traditionally, retailers have shouldered the burden of managing large-scale data centres with high volumes of inefficient, inflexible, expensive hardware supporting legacy or niche applications. In a fluid, consumer-centric landscape subject to frequent sales peaks and troughs and intense competition, the agility to respond to external drivers and enablers rapidly is critical to growth.
One way the industry is addressing this issue is by putting the software defined data centre (SDDC) to work – and putting the application first. This is predicted to transform the way businesses use data centre resources.
The SDDC offers businesses a fast, efficient way of running their IT, with flexibility, agility and control from the application layer down to component level. The ability to align resources with consumption to such granular degree supports rapid change and transformation, while giving businesses the opportunity to uncover the true cost of their IT.
Put simply, the SDDC is a way of making the most economic use of traditional data centre resources like storage, network and compute. A software layer controls and manages infrastructure consumption, process and operation down to component level without human intervention. This enables applications to move seamlessly between environments, in and out of the cloud, from low to high performance without having to touch a single piece of hardware. It also provides the infrastructure with much greater agility, automation and flexibility.
As with all big evolutionary steps, however, the concept is taking a while to achieve broad market acceptance.
How SDDC helps retail businesses
The SDDC offers the elasticity required to keep technology permanently aligned with an organisation’s business objectives and priorities. It offers a dynamic workload based approach, which is specifically aligned to business applications, market place and customer demands.
>See also: Dissecting the software-defined data centre
By defining the desired and measurable outcomes of dynamic workload placement, the SDDC offers retailers access to a level of agility and responsiveness that meets the demands and indeed expectations of consumers to keep retailers competitive.
The agility of the SDDC means retailers can try new go to market initiatives, analyse big data and the success of social media campaigns and expand with omni/multi channel initiatives – without having to rely on poorly integrated, inflexible systems.
The SDDC makes it possible for businesses to rapidly respond to demand changes as and when they arise. With its ability to promote and demote workloads into performance tiers based on their priority level and business criticality, the SDDC keeps IT in line with business objectives. As a result, retailers can achieve greater cost efficiencies, increase productivity and gain competitive advantage in their markets.
Greencore, a well-known convenience foods producer to the major supermarket chains, provides a good example. It found its on-premise IT was inadequate to achieve the core business objectives of enhancing profit margins, expanding into new international markets and attacking new channels, such as ‘food to go’.
The company was managing a significant amount of its IT in-house, including its data centre infrastructure, which was proving to be an expensive process. It was keen to outsource its data centre infrastructure and have it managed by a service provider.
Since making the shift to software-defined, Greencore has saved 25% on data centre costs while achieving greater scalability and improved business agility. With better IT visibility and data centre infrastructure management tools, the company can predict the increase in operating expenditure during seasonal peaks such as Christmas and scale up and down accordingly.
The flexibility and scalability of the SDDC is also well matched to Greencore’s acquisitive strategy, making it much easier to integrate the businesses it has acquired.
The SDDC promises to deliver an ‘evergreen’ data centre infrastructure that keeps businesses competitive. For the first time, workloads and the environments in which they operate can be adjusted dynamically as market or trading conditions change.
Whether it’s changes in business priorities, competitor maneuvering or payment compliance requirements, the SDDC helps retailers to adjust to the transforming landscape.
Sourced from Kevin Linsell, Adapt