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Harrods develops SOA to provide a single view of customer details

Will Hadfield

Harrods is developing a service oriented architecture to create a single view of customer information that is currently held in different formats on different databases.

The single customer view, which will go live before the end of March, is timed to coincide with the complete migration of the retailer's legacy IT systems to an SAP system.

Harrods' chief information officer David Llamas said, "We are finalising the consolidation of our back office in SAP by the migration of legacy systems. As soon as they are migrated, we will have a single view of our products and consolidated reporting."

The retailer expects that the SOA will decrease the time it takes to complete new IT projects and reduce the total cost of ownership of its IT infrastructure.

"One of the advantages is that we move away from a point-to- point integration so that integration is based on a single technology. Our total cost of ownership should be decreasing as we consolidate technologies," said Llamas.

Harrods will replace its proprietary integration tool, which had been used to build point-to-point links between the company's different IT systems, with the Sun Java Integration Suite.

The retailer's processing of customer information has, in the past, "not been great", according to Llamas.

Harrods had a separate database or business process for each different source of customer data. It ran a database each for its 350,000 loyalty card customers and for customers who had placed orders at the department store, as well as buying lists of potential customers.

How Harrods will transform its ITsystems

The roll-out of the SOA is part of a transformation of Harrods' IT systems, which also includes revamps of its hardware, storage, point of sale and business intelligence systems.

The retailer, which runs mostly Hewlett-Packard hardware, consolidated its server estate and established its first datacentre last November.

It will choose a supplier for a new storage area network in February. It will also choose a business intelligence supplier in the spring to replace a proprietary application called Executive Console.

Harrods' deployment of a new point of sale system - both hardware and software - is the largest at a single retail site in the world. Harrods has at least 650 tills at any one time and as many as 1,000 during the sales.


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