Mainframe efficiency tops Tesco's Xmas list

Tesco is looking to keep a lid on its IT costs ahead of the Christmas peak by driving down its mainframe processing power utilisation, measured in mips (millions...

Tesco is looking to keep a lid on its IT costs ahead of the Christmas peak by driving down its mainframe processing power utilisation, measured in mips (millions of instructions per second).

The retailer is making use of performance management software from Macro 4 to help generate a significant reduction in mips usage before Christmas when mainframe activity approaches peak levels.

Tesco IT director John Westnedge said, "We run some core commercial applications on the mainframes, including ordering and distribution systems that drive our retail supply chain processes. They produce round-the-clock order and delivery calculations to ensure stock is continually replenished in the stores to meet customer demand.

"Mainframe usage rises significantly at Christmas because of the volume of activity. So our initial aim is to achieve greater efficiency in mips usage to help avoid buying more processing power in the run-up."

Tesco has commissioned Macro 4 partner CPT Global, an independent performance management specialist, to consult on the project.

Phase one involved CPT Global using Macro 4's performance management software to identify opportunities where changes to databases, systems software and applications could generate mips savings.

"In the next stage, CPT is providing a more detailed assessment of these opportunities so that our developers can go in and make the necessary changes," said Westnedge.

Tesco plans to train its staff in Macro 4 to deliver ongoing benefits, including fewer CPU upgrades and reduced systems software costs due to better mips utilisation.

"We want to make performance a standard part of our development cycle, so that we're resolving performance issues before any new systems or changes go into production," said Westnedge. "To keep control of mips utilisation we need to be writing efficient code from the start, and Macro 4's solution will help us to do this."

The performance management initiative is part of a wider Step Change programme to improve the efficiency of the IT operation at Tesco, which Westnedge is driving.

Tesco is using Macro 4's ExpeTune suite for mainframe performance management.

"CPT recommended the Macro 4 software, as did an independent analyst we talked to," said Westnedge. "From our point of view, mainframe performance management is a very specialist task, and it made sense to go with a specialist vendor such as Macro 4, who lives and breathes this area."

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