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ECI Shifts to a New Paradigm for Future Retail

El Corte Inglés (ECI) is the world’s third largest department store group and Spain’s largest retail group. Established in 1935, ECI’s headquarters are located in Madrid, Spain. ECI runs a total of 83 stores in Spain and Portugal. ECI department stores bring together a host of international luxury boutiques selling fashion, accessories, cosmetics, watches and jewelry, with countless gourmet brands inspired by creative Spanish and international chefs to offer its customers a unique culinary experience. “For many tourists in Spain, the ECI department store is just like the unfinished cathedral in Barcelona or the Prado Museum in Madrid, which symbolizes the country,” the Financial Times commented. In addition to department stores, ECI also runs businesses across multiple sectors, including supermarkets, hardware stores, travel agencies, and telecommunications services. To handle such diverse business ventures, ECI is one of SAP’s more advanced customers.

ECI Builds Analytical Platform for Business Intelligence

Amid the rising trends of new retail, an omni-channel converged customer service system that covers online and offline service operations is a crucial success factor for retail enterprises. As Europe’s largest department store chain, ECI has a wealth of data, including sales data from its hundreds of online and offline channels, inventory data from 38 logistics centers, and membership data. It becomes a tremendous challenge for ECI to sift through the vast quantities of data and quickly derive valuable insights that can translate into business success, as well as to quickly grow customer service capabilities to support agile decision-making. To address these concerns, ECI looks to build a High-Performance Analytical Platform (HAP). The HAP would function as an enterprise-grade data platform that runs analytical-operation applications to support real-time analysis of online and historical data. The analysis results will empower executives to make responsive, better-informed business decisions, and effectively guide services such as real-time inventory and shortage management, as well as supply replenishment.

Prior to this, ECI had purchased 4 SAP HANA systems to support its business processes. However, the old scale-out architecture involves complicated Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of many servers, and inter-node data exchange affects system performance. This all leads to poor IT O&M experience. Therefore, it was imperative for ECI to address the Big Data analysis requirements of the Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) from its internal departments. ECI’s core requirements are quasi-real-time analytics and a tight project rollout schedule. More importantly, the service platform is required to be innovation-driven and ensure high performance. Through collaboration and innovation with customers, Huawei strengthens its partnership ecosystem to develop powerful solutions such as the KunLun SAP HANA appliance solution.

KunLun SAP HANA Appliance Optimizes ECI’s System

In early 2017, the CIO of ECI was invited to visit the Huawei headquarters. Huawei partnered with SAP to analyze the status and requirements of ECI’s system. Building on the implementation experience of over 3,000 TB of server solutions, Huawei strongly recommended to ECI the KunLun SAP HANA appliance solution based on an 8 TB single-node scale-up architecture. The solution is technically aligned with ECI’s core requirements for high performance and quasi-real-time analytics.

  • Why Scale-up?

• Higher performance: The scale-up SAP HANA system architecture eliminates inter-node communications and delivers over 30 percent higher performance than the scale-out solution.

• Easier deployment and management: The single-node solution does not require external storage or switch devices, enabling simpler and easier deployment and management.

• No more data table re-distribution: With all data stored within the same node, there is no need for data table re-distribution after capacity expansion.

• HANA Non-Uniform-Memory Access (NUMA) awareness: The CPU memory scheduling mechanism with awareness of the HANA database NUMA architecture is continually being developed.

  • Why Huawei KunLun SAP HANA Appliance?

The Huawei KunLun SAP HANA appliance is one of the very few in the industry capable of offering a scale-up, mission-critical platform with high performance, scalability, and reliability all in one package. Based on the x86 architecture, KunLun delivers the industry’s No. 1 HANA Benchmark performance. It leverages advanced reliability features such as Reliability, Availability, and Serviceability (RAS) 2.0 and Disaster Recovery (DR) backup and supports memory module hot-swap. KunLun is the best-in-class platform for the SAP HANA solution.

As the 8 TB scale-up solution is the first-of-its-kind ever in the industry, ECI expressed considerable concerns about its risks and the certification which had to be completed within a very short time. As SAP’s global technology partner, Huawei actively conveyed ECI’s apprehensions to SAP and explained the advantages of the scale-up solution. As such, SAP showed great support to Huawei and the certification was completed quickly and successfully. As of now, the industry’s first 8 TB scale-up system running SAP OLAP applications has come to life — on Huawei’s KunLun SAP HANA appliance. Huawei and SAP have built upon their in-depth collaboration to implement a groundbreaking solution for ECI, to win recognition from across the industry.

  • ECI Effectively Analyzes Inventory and Sales Data, Finds Shortages in 5 Minutes

After deploying the 16-socket KunLun SAP HANA appliance based on all in-memory computing, ECI is able to consolidate the active data from multiple systems onto a quasi-real-time computing platform. The new platform eliminates performance bottlenecks, and supports real-time data writes and analytics through HANA, enabling ECI to fully tap into the data to drive faster time-to-value.

• Significant leap in data processing efficiency: The new system delivers 1,000x higher performance than the old system, and analyzes shortage information, production scheduling, and purchase orders at lightning speeds based on the current inventory status, empowering ECI with quasi-real-time insights into business data. The system completes shortage analysis within 5 minutes, improves inventory turnover rate by 20 percent, and enables automatic replenishment to best suit sales activities.

• Drastically simplifies O&M: Compared with other vendors’ solutions, the KunLun SAP HANA provides the most streamlined scale-up management architecture. It involves only one server, allowing for simple, efficient deployment and management; requires no change to databases or applications, or the need to re-distribute data tables in the case of capacity expansion, making system tuning quicker and effortless.

• System-level high reliability: The KunLun SAP HANA supports online replacement of core components, online rolling upgrades, and automatic failover, maximizing service uptime and ensuring 24/7 availability.

• Anticipating future service needs: KunLun eliminates the current business growth bottlenecks and supports smooth expansion and upgrades, anticipating service development needs for the next 3 to 5 years.

• Open platform: The open platform avoids lock-ins and maximizes Return On Investment (ROI).

Huawei fulfills ECI’s needs quickly by partnering with SAP to design and implement a solution efficiently, finally empowering ECI with a comprehensive solution and establishes a win-win situation for all companies. This paradigm shift expands the influence of SAP HANA over future applications that will further transform the retail industry.

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