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HMV changes its IT tune to cut maintenance spend on legacy on-premise systems

The high street music retailer has embarked on a sizeable digital transformation project to cut costs and boost the agility of its business operations

HMV has is using hybrid cloud, thin clients and server virtualisation to help cut the amount it spends on supporting legacy IT deployments to support its commercial growth plans.

The high street music retailer is in the throes of a sizeable digital transformation and IT infrastructure refresh, geared towards helping it cut costs and future-proofing its business, having previously fallen into administration in January 2013.

This led to the company being acquired by business restructuring firm Hilco Capital in April 2013, which has since set about finding ways to cut HMV’s operating costs by renegotiating the leases on some of its stores and, in some cases, downsizing to smaller premises.

In line with this, HMV has embarked on an IT investment programme designed to ensure the company can see off competitive threats from online-only retailers, such as Amazon, and reduce the amount it spends on propping up its legacy, on-premise IT systems.

This has seen the firm outsource a number of its core services – including its loyalty card scheme, HR systems and desktop services – to a third party datacentre provider, paving the way for it to embrace the hybrid cloud IT consumption model.

The company has also adopted Citrix’s XenDesktop 7.6 virtual desktop infrastructure technology, which it claims should enable it to virtualise more of its on-premise hardware, resulting in the downsizing of its server estate from 50 units to six.

Furthermore, it has swapped its IBM 4690 point-of-sale till systems for a WorldPay-based, encryption-enabled, setup instead.

Derek Walklate, service delivery manager at HMV, said the project is proof of the firm’s commitment to investing in technology that will improve its overall performance and efficiency.

“Our IT investment shows that HMV is committed to supporting our business by replacing old equipment which is out of support and costly to maintain. The business is keen to leverage cost saving opportunities through using cloud-based solutions,” he said.

“New IT means we not only get the latest and fastest technology but have the potential to save money through our new Citrix farm and server virtualisation as well as getting rid of end of life equipment which has excessive maintenance charges.”

The desktop transformation

The Citrix portion of the IT upgrade work, required the firm to replace its incumbent thin client terminals, which HMV estimates to be well over 15 years old, for software compatibility reasons.

HMV deployed 760 Universal Desktop 2 terminals from German thin client manufacturer, Igel, in 129 of its stores and within its warehouses throughout the UK, while a further 40 units have been retained for backup purposes.

The Citrix setup means staff are able to use these terminals to access Microsoft Windows applications, and HMV’s own Track Systems stock management and sales analytics software.

“Igel was selected because of a recommendation from Trust Systems, one of our key IT partners, and our internal team liked its Universal Management Suite (UMS) which is far simpler to use compared to others,” said Walklate.

Read more about retail-based digital transformation projects

“Using a central console, the UMS allows remote administration of Igel devices over our network, which is important given stores are located from Cornwall to Inverness and beyond.”

According to Nick Potts, managing director of Trust Systems, the terminals were selected on the basis that were less power hungry than competing offerings.

“When we reviewed products for HMV, our analysis showed that they could save more than £45,000 on electricity over a three-year period using Igel UD2 terminals versus a product from another well-known competitor,” he said.

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