Challenge: Safeguard the shopping experience by ensuring systems and data remain highly available.
Solution: Hitachi Vantara storage solutions boost performance and capacity.
METRO is a leading international wholesaler and food distributor. The Group operates METRO and MAKRO Cash & Carry hypermarkets, with approximately 760 METRO/MAKRO Cash & Carry stores in 25 countries. Around 150,000 employees work for METRO, worldwide. It also owns specialist delivery companies, such as Classic Fine Foods, Rungis Express and Pro à Pro.
METRONOM is the technology department; it supports divisions around the world with custom IT solutions and services. METRONOM’s 2,000-strong team offers business process consultancy in addition to maintaining and monitoring METRO’s IT infrastructure, which includes two data centers.
Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform F700 all-flash arrays (4)
Hitachi Storage Virtualization Operating System, Hitachi Performance Analytics
As an early adopter of digital technologies, METRO’s business processes rely on its people having quick and easy access to data at the right time and in the right format. "Everything from stock management and order fulfilment to supplier payments rely on data being available. If our processes are interrupted, we wouldn’t be able to keep the shelves in our stores stocked and ready for customers," explains Gerd Brand, the Product Owner who oversees Storage Infrastructure at METRO. "To maintain seamless business operations, we need a reliable data management platform.”
The volume of data being generated at METRONOM is also steadily increasing; Brand predicts that the 3PB of data amassed during 2018 will increase significantly by the end of 2019.
To ensure it can continue to offer customers a seamless shopping experience, METRO decided to replace its disparate legacy data center technology with a modern, future-proofed solution. “We had a mix of systems from different vendors, which was complex and time-consuming to manage,” explains Veit Müller, Administrator from METRO’s Storage Competence Center. “To manage our data more efficiently and reduce costs, we needed a robust solution that could handle increasing volumes of data without impacting application availability and provide better reporting capabilities to simplify ongoing management of the IT infrastructure.”
METRONOM has been using Hitachi Vantara solutions to store and manage critical operational data since 2013. The partnership began when METRONOM undertook a proof of concept with Hitachi midrange storage systems, starting with email archiving. “Around 70,000 employees rely on email to be able to work, so we wanted to ensure the new solution could handle the scale and complexity of our environment,” explains Müller.
The company also needs its emails to be archived in line with security and compliance regulations. “When we tested the Hitachi Vantara solution, we quickly realized it was the right fit for us. The support from the team was invaluable,” recalls Müller.
Since deploying the initial solution, METRONOM has gone on to expand and evolve its Hitachi Vantara footprint to support data growth and greater digitalization across its business. “We’ve successfully integrated additional storage solutions from Hitachi Vantara into our data center and are highly satisfied with their quality and performance,” comments Brand.
Today, METRO’s email infrastructure is underpinned by two Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) G600 systems. These arrays are installed at two locations to maximize redundancy. A four-strong team from METRONOM attended workshops and training sessions to familiarize themselves with the functionality of the solution and best management practices.
METRONOM also turned to Hitachi Vantara to support its data center transformation. “Our ERP [enterprise resource planning] platform processes a high volume of data transactions, and requires much higher performance than other applications,” explains Müller.
To meet this level of demand, METRONOM migrated its goods management system to Hitachi VSP F700 technology, which guarantees 100% data availability. “With Hitachi VSP F700, we get better performance as well as more capacity,” says Müller. To avoid any disruption, Hitachi Vantara provides nondisruptive firmware upgrades for the Virtual Storage Platforms.
METRONOM selected Hitachi storage units with Hitachi patented flash modules (FMDs). The intelligent FMD technology was configured by Hitachi Vantara to actively work with Hitachi Storage Virtualization Operating System (SVOS) to improve performance and efficiency. The solutions can, for instance, prioritize application performance over background tasks, such as garbage collection, to minimize potential latency.
Built to support concurrent, large enterprise workloads and enable hyperscale efficiencies, FMDs also have an advanced embedded multicore flash controller at their core to increase the flash performance. Each FMD is also able to deliver data reduction without any performance degradation.
With the Hitachi Vantara solutions, METRONOM can ensure its business operations and processes are underpinned by highly available and scalable storage. This approach not only safeguards data accessibility for staff but also reduces costs.
“We have been able to lower operational costs for our data centers, which are savings we can pass on to the rest of the business,” says Brand. “Cost reduction is always a key priority for our division as we need to be able to compete with cloud offerings.”
By optimizing its storage and transforming its data center, METRO has mitigated the risk of IT issues impacting the shopping experience or its reputation. “By migrating our stock management system to the high-end Hitachi VSP F700 system, we can avoid I/O bottlenecks that could affect our ability to order products and fill store shelves,” adds Brand. Hitachi Performance Analytics software plays a key role, monitoring both performance and data reduction values.
METRO’s partnership with Hitachi Vantara continues to go from strength to strength. “The team is always available to answer our questions quickly and support us through any challenge that arises. Hitachi Vantara is more than just a vendor; it’s a partner that adds value to our business,” says Müller.
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