The retailer cloud journey: An incremental climb

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retailer-cloud-journey-climbAs a Cloud Advisor who supports several retail clients, it’s impressive to see a company mature in its cloud adoption and realize true value in its business transformation.

One such story is of a major U.S. retailer’s journey to cloud. It’s a story that’s still being written.  But how did this story begin?

It started with the retailer’s vision for rapid retail innovation with lower IT costs. The company was looking to support a more customer-focused infrastructure, enabled for faster design and larger scale experimentation of its digital initiatives.

The retailer required a solution that struck an optimal balance between performance, customer service, cost management and self-service automation and converged on a continuously available architecture on IBM Cloud.

Here’s a breakdown of the details:

Continuous availability

The basic technical concept that enables continuous availability is the capacity to run a service from multiple, geo-dispersed “clouds” in parallel. Each cloud is capable of running the business service independently of its peers, yet replicates state and persistent data to its peer clouds. This requires uniform, reliable and performant network access to replicate state and persistent data.

IBM Cloud delivers on both promises providing global high-performance cloud computing infrastructure capable of supporting applications at “internet scale.” Further, SoftLayer’s standardized data center and pod design provide modular hardware configurations. Global, unmetered, network-private backbone access facilitates data replication across these geo-dispersed clouds.

Self-service automation

With the architecture proved in all seasons of the retail business cycle, the focus of the retailer is on the road to self-service automation and learning from initial deployments. SoftLayer was built with automation in sight. Everything in the platform — including the provisioning and de-provisioning of services, logging, billing and alerts — is automated and controlled by the Infrastructure Management System (IMS). Each function provided in the IMS is available via APIs supporting the company’s goals for full-stack automation.

With cost efficiencies derived from cloud behind them, the retailer continues to mature into an environment for innovation and business value.

Teams defined their principles based on deep-rooted cultural values. Keeping the focus on customer centricity translates into ensuring each design element and each realized feature benefits the customer. Realizing the benefits derived through automation, application development teams focused on reducing the length of the development cycle. This approach  has served well for years in the retailer’s  product development teams. It allows the application development teams to rapid test, experiment and learn quickly.

Interested? Want to know how to get started? This process is well aligned with the IBM Garage method, combining industry best practices for design thinking, lean startup, agile development, DevOps, and cloud to build and deliver innovative solutions.

This major retailer’s cloud transformation story is still being written and IBM is proud to be its partner along this journey.  We continue to actively partner on this journey, bringing clarity to how IBM and industry cloud practices and technologies can help achieve business objectives.

An Elite Cloud Advisor, Jyoti Chawla specializes in developing enterprise transformation strategies and architecture for global enterprises to transform to Cloud and emerging technologies. Follow Jyoti on Twitter and Linkedin.

Sr. Cloud Advisor

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