Industrial workwear retailer Carhartt wanted to grow its international customer base. How could the company scale its sales capacity while keeping operational costs as low as possible?
Carhartt upgraded to IBM Power Systems featuring IBM POWER8® processors and IBM Storage, working with IBM business partner Mainline to ensure efficient migration and implementation.
$1.1 millionUSD saved through improved performance and reduced upkeep
70%reduction in physical data center footprint
75%faster report times streamline business processes
Business challenge story
Managing a workwear empire
One of America’s leading workwear brands, Carhartt operates manufacturing facilities in Kentucky and Tennessee, selling through company-owned stores, retail chains and online. Carhartt’s objective in recent years has been to establish a greater international presence, particularly through the catalog-driven web site.
As manufacturing and sales volumes grew, the existing IT infrastructure was progressively extended and developed. New applications were added to the system, along with additional storage and networking, and little by little complexity and cost were creeping up on Carhartt.
Michael Karasienski, IBM i Supervisor at Carhartt, comments, “We were aware of the strain growth was placing on our operations; scalability is key to maintaining our new market share. In a very competitive business environment, it is essential to manage our digital environment easily and at low cost.
“We worked with our business partner, Mainline, on possible solutions. Our existing architecture was built on the IBM i platform, which provided a very reliable, robust and cost-efficient service. We wanted to find a solution that enabled us to scale our operations to meet our global ambitions and continue the same low-cost performance.”
Carhartt chose to upgrade from its existing eight IBM POWER5 and POWER7 processor-based servers to just two POWER8 servers, a more than 70 percent reduction in the data center footprint. The opportunity to consolidate its physical servers was a strong selling point for Carhartt, offering significantly reduced workload for the IT team. The new IBM Power Systems servers include Capacity Upgrade on Demand features, enabling Carhartt to increase computing power as the workload grows, without the need to deploy new physical machines.
“The migration went very smoothly,” explains Michael Karasienski. “Thanks to Mainline’s POWER team, we were able to move all our existing data from our previous POWER environment to the new one very quickly, and we only experienced around 30 minutes of planned downtime per application. Since we made the switchover, performance has been extremely reliable - the new IBM Power Systems servers have been in place for around seven months now, and they haven’t needed to be rebooted once.
“We use Capacity Upgrade on Demand to expand our capabilities as our volumes rise. For example, the online sales shop runs on the IBM Power Systems platform, and we have recently expanded that online offering into the European market using virtualized servers. There are currently 30 virtual servers supporting our European online retail business, and we can simply create more as the need arises.”
Working with Mainline alongside IBM, Carhartt also deployed IBM Storwize® V7000 (predecessor to IBM FlashSystem 7200) IBM FlashSystem® V9000 storage solutions. Consolidating its data storage environment to the IBM systems has enabled Carhartt to reduce complexity and cut the IT management workload, as well as improve technical storage performance.
“Since we made the transition from traditional hard disk drive storage to the IBM solution, jobs have been running almost too fast for us,” says Michael Karasienski. “At first, users thought the reports were not running correctly, as they couldn’t believe how fast results were coming through! Overall, report times are now around 75 percent faster. Additionally, with IBM Storage, we have achieved around 70 percent data compression, releasing storage space and deferring the need to buy additional capacity.”
Consolidating the future
Since consolidating its IBM i on IBM Power Systems environment, Carhartt has significantly reduced its total cost of ownership. The IBM Power Systems platform offers Carhartt a sustainable digital environment that can scale up to handle rapid expansion and peak seasonal workloads, at lower total power consumption and with a smaller physical footprint.
For example, to manage the demands of Cyber Monday, Carharrt sets up a “War Room” in the IT department. If workload starts to increase above expectations, the team is able to spin up new virtual application servers on POWER to keep pace with the traffic volumes, ensuring the best possible customer experience.
Michael Karasienski comments: “Carhartt estimates savings of around $1.1 million based on the reduced operational costs delivered by the IBM Power Systems infrastructure.
“The IBM i infrastructure delivers immense value to our business, in terms of improved capacity, reduced costs, and the capability to expand operations. To be able to say all that, and to run a business this size with a team of just three people, is a real mark of how valuable IBM technology is to us.”
Following the success of its original migration, the Carhartt team has now upgraded to new IBM Power Systems E980 enterprise servers.
“We’re planning to upgrade the IBM POWER8 server that currently runs our Development, HA and some of our production processes to IBM POWER9™ in the near future,” says Michael Karasienski. “We are also planning to upgrade our storage infrastructure from the existing FlashSystem V9000 to the IBM FlashSystem 9100, which we anticipate will reduce our IT workload and improve performance even more in the future.
“We are currently working with Mainline and the IBM storage team to implement these upgrades by the end of the year, and we look forward to gaining even more business value from our IBM solutions. They have really earned a place at the core of our operations, and we look forward to utilizing IBM technology for many more years to come.”
Established in 1889, Carhartt is a global premium workwear brand with a rich heritage of developing rugged products for workers on and off the job. Headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, with more than 5,100 associates worldwide, Carhartt is family-owned and managed by the descendants of the company’s founder, Hamilton Carhartt.
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM i, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/it-infrastructure/power/os/ibm-i
To learn more about IBM Power Systems, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/power
To learn more about IBM Storage, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/storage