Steinhoff UK Retail, which owns Bensons for Beds and Harveys furniture stores, has moved its IT onto the infrastructure of a managed services provider and adopted a third-party datacentre for disaster recovery capabilities.
Steinhoff’s portfolio includes 550 retail outlets, 11 warehouses, a call centre and two head offices. The retailer wanted an IT infrastructure with robust disaster recovery capabilities and minimal downtime during seasonal demand peaks.
It also wanted a production-ready scalable web hosting service to support seasonal high demand on Harveys’ online furniture store and a virtual infrastructure to test a key business application for its Bensons for Beds brand.
The IT team decided to migrate the infrastructure to managed services provider Adapt for continuous IT services and to meet its objectives of a virtual datacentre and scalable web hosting service.
Flexible IT infrastructure for retail peaks and troughs
Operating in such a dynamic, global market, Steinhoff’s business is subject to constant change. As such, the company aims to ensure its vertically integrated supply chain is flexible enough to keep up with sudden changes in the business environment, while keeping costs low.
Following a review and a bid process, the IT team selected Adapt’s managed hosting and networking services to its core office sites and an integrated first-line helpdesk for in-store staff. It also picked Adapt’s enterprise Virtual Data Centre (eVDC) for disaster recovery capabilities to support Steinhoff's expansion plans and infrastructure optimisation.
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The project involved migrating the IT systems for Harveys and Bensons for Beds to the hosted environment first, which provided a dual-site system for staging and disaster recovery. Adapt also created a virtual environment for one of Bensons for Beds’ warehouse distribution products for pre-launch testing.
During the Christmas period, Steinhoff also required Adapt to build and host infrastructure for Harveys’ website to increase bandwidth to support significant peaks in traffic.
Virtual private cloud infrastructure
The virtual datacentre and managed hosting services have given Steinhoff a virtual private cloud infrastructure that features agility and scalability.
One of the benefits of using a scalable infrastructure and agile bandwidth is that Steinhoff has been able to support its entire IT infrastructure. It is also able to manage seasonal surges throughout the year, particularly during two of its peak trading times – Easter and Christmas.
The retailer and Adapt are also working together to build an infrastructure and network that will support further expected surges in trading for both Harveys and Bensons.
Talking about the migration of the Harveys website, Mark Spicer, head of IT at Harveys, says: “It was critical to get this system up and running as soon as possible without any downtime as this would be our first undertaking under the new agreement.”
The infrastructure now has the flexibility to cope with sudden peaks in demand, both expected and unexpected, he adds.
24x7 service provision
Steinhoff is also benefiting from Adapt’s Service Pod model – a focused technical centre of excellence that takes ownership of the retailer’s IT environment and acts as an extension of its business.
This approach gives Steinhoff 24x7 access to its virtual team or “service pod”, comprising technical experts with knowledge of all key IT areas of the retailer’s environment. Each pod is fronted by a service delivery manager to ensure accurate response to service, according to Adapt.
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“The key thing here is that the team building the Pod became the team that then supported us when we transitioned into early life support and then business as usual. This allowed the transition to become seamless,” says Spicer.
“To migrate an estate the size of ours in less than three months was always going to be a challenge, but it was a challenge that Adapt met,” he adds.
Private cloud delivers competitive edge
Bensons for Beds needed a bespoke IT solution for disaster recovery and for testing and development, says its head of IT, Steve Webster.
“Our business is extremely fast-paced, and with our significant online presence we cannot afford any downtime or service outages. We needed to find a supplier that could deliver a resilient service with proven disaster recovery capabilities,” he says.
“Not only has Adapt delivered a robust solution with its dual datacentre solution, its underlying support network and strong service delivery model has made it a valuable strategic partner that offers expert technical advice tailored to our business roadmap,” says Webster.
“This is a perfect example of the continuous competitive edge that a private cloud environment can offer businesses in the fast-paced, dynamic retail industry – not just at busy periods such as Christmas,” says Simon Fisk, sales and marketing director at Adapt.