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MicroDC: Streamlined IT for Dutch Supermarket

By Zhao Shougang, Marketing Manager, Data Center Solutions, Huawei IT Product Line

As the largest Asian food retailer in the Netherlands, Amazing Oriental has 19 stores located throughout the country. Expanding beyond the company’s Amsterdam headquarters required IT services in each new store, and Huawei’s Micro Data-Center product (MicroDC) has provided a turnkey solution that simplified the deployment of those services. In addition to reducing deployment time, MicroDC’s management features make it easier to integrate each store’s new IT services with the headquarters system.

An Amazing Oriental IT manager reports, “We spent a lot of time in selecting and purchasing devices from various vendors, installing and commissioning the devices, and rushing overnight from one store to another to inspect and maintain the IT devices. These problems have been resolved by Huawei’s MicroDC solution.”

Legacy Management Challenges

IT systems have played a significant role in the evolution of supermarket chains, and now cover an impressive array of services, from instore and warehouse bar code scanners to supply-chain management and financial accounting at headquarters. Along the way, IT systems reduce the cost of inventory, accelerate cash flow, improve distribution efficiency, and enhance the customer experience. For these and many other reasons, a robust IT infrastructure is a key competitive edge in the supermarket industry.

The complexity of maintaining independent systems for inventory, transaction processing, office automation, communications, and security proved challenging for Amazing Oriental. First, opening new stores took too long. Amazing Oriental wanted to continue expanding in the Netherlands, as well as into Spain and Germany. Using traditional models for provisioning IT services, the company would spend far too much time selecting and purchasing devices from various vendors, followed by a lengthy cycle for installation and interoperability configuration. Each IT system deployment could take more than three months.

The second challenge faced by Amazing Oriental was maintaining existing IT capabilities. The company could not operate or maintain in-store devices from its Amsterdam headquarters. When the system in a chain store broke down, the IT department would send maintenance personnel on-site to troubleshoot the issue. As stores became more geographically dispersed, it would take maintenance staff the better part of a day to reach the site, and company’s reputation would suffer. An outdated IT platform was hindering Amazing Oriental’s ambitions to expand throughout Europe.

The traditional method of dealing with these challenges is to hire more people. IT manager for Amazing Oriental commented, “We were forced to employ more staff to address these problems, an increase in our cost of operation. We were stuck in the middle.”

Tailored Solutions

Amazing Oriental found a cost-effective solution in a Huawei MicroDC platform customized to meet the chain’s business needs. After analyzing the requirements of all Amazing Oriental’s chain stores, Huawei offered a unified MicroDC IT design that provided a viable ICT scale-out plan that included current and future stores.

The MicroDC at headquarters implements desktop cloud and store service functions such as the cashier system. The in-store MicroDCs include video surveillance systems and Thin Clients (TCs) that provide a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), Virtual Private Network (VPN), and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone system.

Housed in a single cabinet, a MicroDC hardware array neatly integrates power supply and distribution, servers, network devices, wireless controllers, firewalls, voice communication devices, and environmental sensors. A MicroDC comes pre-configured with network parameters and basic software, including the operating system, so Amazing Oriental only needed to deploy their choice of application systems onsite. This pre-integration enabled Amazing Oriental to deploy the entire solution within a single week. The customer’s need for rapid deployment was thus met by MicroDC.

The MicroDC solution addresses all maintenance issues through the use of Huawei’s ManageOne eSight network management software. The result is that Amazing Oriental is able to monitor and maintain all in-store IT systems from its headquarters. Onsite inspection and maintenance is limited to hardware issues that require travel by technical staff at infrequent intervals.

“With ManageOne eSight, we do not need to deploy in-store management systems from different vendors,” said an IT maintenance engineer with Amazing Oriental. “Also, the software provides a variety of unique functions, such as rack view, that helps to significantly simplify our operation and maintenance process.”

Having experienced the performance of Huawei’s MicroDC on the live network, Amazing Oriental is able to follow-though on the plan to expand the number of stores in its business network.

Streamlined Expansion

In addition to dramatically reducing the time needed for IT system deployment in new stores from three months to a single week, the all-in-one MicroDC solution enables Amazing Oriental’s IT systems to work in unattended mode, with about 80% reduction of average IT troubleshooting time.

More broadly, the MicroDC standard design solves a litany of old problems with device selection, purchasing, installation, commissioning, and troubleshooting. By deploying the company’s familiar application systems — such as cashier and finance systems — on a common IT platform, Amazing Oriental has streamlined the processes that support the chain’s core business rather than wasting time and resources on IT system maintenance.

Voice of the Customer

“We spent a lot of time in selecting and purchasing devices from various vendors, installing and commissioning the devices, and rushing overnight from one store to another to inspect and maintain the IT devices. These problems have been resolved by Huawei’s MicroDC solution.”

– Amazing Oriental IT manager

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