Head of Operations at Marks & Spencer, Mark Dickson reports, “While we had never actually missed the target, we had less and less room to adapt. If we had experienced a technical challenge, we had almost no time to recover the overnight batch tasks, and sending supplier orders at 5:15 a.m., or earlier, is absolutely critical for our business.”
With an IT infrastructure that had grown in size and complexity, M&S identified data storage and management as a critical area that could impact overnight batch processing. How could the IT division optimize technical performance to help ensure that the M&S food stores continued to get the right foods on the right shelves at the right time, never disappointing a customer, especially during peak season?
The existing data storage landscape at M&S provided support for almost all production, development and test environments. From website to finance, food to supply chain, multiple business units placed competing demands for performance and capacity.
Storage Governance Manager at Marks & Spencer, Alex Ling explains, “As new storage devices and systems had been added, complexity became a significant challenge to performance and overall stability. With order processing running so close to the deadline, we could not afford any kind of outage or slowdown, which represented a considerable business risk. Additionally, complex systems are hard to manage, and as a result operational costs were starting to rise.”
Ling continues, “At the business level, M&S always looks to control its operational costs. If we knew which systems were costly to operate and support, and allocated expenses accordingly, we could direct investments and resources more effectively. The existing environment did not provide the detailed cost visibility we wanted, limiting our ability to understand, adjust and optimize operations,” he explains. “We set out strategic goals to improve manageability and embed stability, at reduced capital and operational cost, based on a simplified storage landscape that would offer greater cost visibility.”