Scale Computing Platform delivered the stability, support and simplicity we needed to modernize our stores with IoT for optimizing freezing, heating and the customer experience. Their solution also outclassed the competition on total cost of ownership and simplicity.— Rolf Vanden Eynde, Manager Network & Network Security, Technology Strategy, and Innovation at Ahold Delhaize
- The company needed a complete infrastructure refresh to replace aging hardware
- The existing IT infrastructure was costly and resource-intensive to manage
- There was a need to improve in-store IT security
- There was a growing need to support higher SLAs for critical workloads
- Improving disaster recovery was essential
- The organization needed to future-proof its IT environment with the ability to scale out on demand
Delhaize - Part Of The Ahold Delhaize Group
In 2016, Ahold and Delhaize Group combined forces to become a world-leading food retailer, with 6,700 stores worldwide, employing 370,000 people and serving 50 million customers a week. The company has significantly grown and is one of the largest food retail groups, a leader in supermarkets and e-commerce, and a company at the forefront of sustainable retailing.
Delhaize is dedicated to helping customers shop anytime, anywhere, and in any manner – in-store and online. Committed to staying ahead of the industry when it comes to the shopper experience, IT plays a fundamental role in supporting day-to-day operations and future expansion plans for the company.
Challenges & Demand For Edge Computing
Edge computing has a critical role to play in the retailer’s IT innovation strategy. The purpose of edge computing is to place applications, compute, and storage resources near to where they are needed, used, and where data is collected.
It was essential to Delhaize that its IT infrastructure would be able to go to the next level. It was not only crucial to improve IT services today, but to support new edge-based applications with hyperconverged technology.
With its small margins, the supermarket industry benefits significantly from a cost-efficient edge platform, especially if this approach also makes new developments such as 'real-time retail' possible.
Hyperconvergence at the edge allows compute workloads to be run in a small or tiny hardware footprint, processing and reducing vast quantities of data for further upload to either a centralized data center or the cloud.
Vanden Eynde explained, “Previously, our IT environment was set up with different third parties, and each vendor had a different server and appliance in the supermarket – this meant each one needed its own access, whether manually or remotely. In addition, not only did each solution differ per store, but the fact that many of our platforms were purchased at different times, meant that the economic lifespan was quite different. It became difficult to manage, not only store to store, but also within individual stores, as we had different components.”
Evaluating The Market
Delhaize wanted to embark on a project that would fulfill its edge deployment needs. Still, with the previous challenge of IT management, it was essential that the new infrastructure only required single vendor support.
After intensive evaluation, Delhaize decided a hyperconverged solution was the best approach, as it provided the infrastructure needed to support the company’s current demands while paving the way for future edge computing deployments.
Delhaize evaluated the market, ran several comparisons, and head-to-head deep dive lab tests. The company then completed a field test in 2018 with several supermarkets before opting for Scale Computing Platform.
We extensively evaluated the market and wanted to take the time to ensure any new IT environment could effectively support our applications and future demands. Scale Computing Platform delivered the stability, support and simplicity we needed to modernize our stores with IoT for optimizing freezing, heating and the customer experience. Their solution also outclassed the competition on total cost of ownership and simplicity. Scale Computing offered a joint solution that was a perfect fit, but in addition, the process was seamless.— Rolf Vanden Eynde, Manager Network & Network Security, Technology Strategy, and Innovation at AholdDelhaize
As part of the upgrade, Delhaize wanted to implement a hyperconverged solution that could drastically reduce its management, support, and maintenance costs — so it could focus budgets on enhancing the customer experience while ensuring the IT environment would continue to support growing applications.
Since deploying SC//Platform, Delhaize has reduced management time by up to 75% and improved recovery time by 99.9%. SC//Platform provides a comprehensive system that automates overall IT management, saving organizations time, money, and resources. It also provides high performance and pay-as-you-grow flexibility, ensuring that Delhaize can eliminate the need to over-provision storage with peace of mind. Its IT infrastructure can meet demands both now and in the future.
SC//Platform offers simplified management and a comprehensive range of recovery features which have enabled Delhaize to improve disaster recovery. The platform offers business continuity with snapshots, replication, and regular backup testing.
By consolidating the separate systems that manage storage, compute, and network into a single, highly available hyperconverged system, SC//Platform provides integrated server virtualization, disaster recovery tools and management capabilities into an easy-to-manage system that can remain operational in even the most extreme and demanding environments.
Delhaize’s initial deployment was based on 19” rack servers. In mid-2021, Delhaize decided to run SC//HyperCore on the latest generation nano-size clusters, Scale Computing’s HE151, based on the Intel® NUC Enterprise Edge Compute edition.
With the HE151, deployments are now CO2 emission friendly. Each node only requires two connections, a round DC power plug and a rectangular Ethernet plug, allowing anyone who could plug in a laptop to add or swap a failed node. The physical size – a fraction of a traditional rack server – is another benefit.
Scale Computing SC//Platform is optimized for the use of virtualized applications and the solution offered many of the facilities that we need. However, there were still some future possibilities that we wanted to look at. Scale Computing made it possible for us to consult directly with their product developers. They have been able to fulfill many of our technical requirements and have also added some of them to their standard platform. It’s been a pleasure working with them and we feel like a valued customer. Scale Computing doesn’t take a one size fits all approach, extremely important for the 1,000s of supermarkets we support. We, more or less, have had no downtime in any store since we started to implement SC//Platform in our stores 3 years ago.— Rolf Vanden Eynde, Manager Network & Network Security, Technology Strategy, and Innovation at AholdDelhaize
Key applications running on Scale Computing Platform
- Client Operating Systems: Windows 7 and 10
- Access Control: DINEC, access control software, involves electronically restricting the access to a location to authorized persons
- Scanning: PC Chef, In-house application running on Windows server 2012 and handles the transfer of information from the store scanners to their data center
- Store Management: In-house tool to help support the store server and PC Chef applications
- Temperature Management: Manage in-store cooling and heating
- Server Operating Systems: Windows Server 2012 STD, 2016 STD and different flavours of Linux
- Security: F5, Fortinet and Linux based software applications/appliances used to control all data traffic to the central data center
- Point of Sale (POS): Diebold Nixdorf, Store Server running on Windows Server 2012
- Cluster Management: SC//Fleet Manager, and Microsoft System Centre using Syslog, monitor cluster health. Clusters are managed by HyperCore UI and SC//Fleet Manager
- Dramatically decreased complexity: One integrated platform, easy to install and manage
- Zero downtime, not even during software updates and upgrades
- Continuous operations even when a disk or a complete server breaks
- Increased resiliency and uptime because integrated self-healing technologies reduce hands-on maintenance, ideal for non-IT personnel in the stores
- Integrated snapshot technology with rapid failback to a snapshot of prior known good state, decreasing the risk of operational downtime in the event of a disruption
- Easy node exchange in case of a hardware failure, no onsite repairs