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SCARBOROUGH, Maine -- Hannaford Brothers Co. has successfully implemented the IBM System z9 mainframe as the nerve center of its on-demand supply chain for over 300 retail stores and five major distribution centers. The new system is the culmination of a three-year, $1.2-billion development effort involving 5,000 IBM engineers, software developers, and security experts worldwide.
The Northeast retailer's aim was to boost customer satisfaction, lower costs of goods, and improve the quality of service in its competitive market, which has lately experienced the advent of superstores and declining margins.
Used to power 80 percent of Hannaford's overall business, the IBM System z9 allows the grocer's associates to access real-time data with handheld devices, to enable enhanced management of warehouse inventories, support buying forecasts, and process stock orders direct from employees in the aisles.
"An elegant 30-minute data transfer from the z990 mainframe to the new System z9 mainframe on a Sunday evening capped a multiyear IT transformation at Hannaford," noted Hannaford s.v.p. and c.i.o. Bill Homa in a statement. "With that simple move, we improved workload performance by 50 percent."
The process started with Hannaford's consolidation of the workloads of hundreds of servers -- four or five per store -- onto one IBM z990 mainframe. Now all of the company's partner and supplier data, inventory controls, and payment and order processing run simultaneously on 23 separate and secure partitions on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 and z/OS on the single System z9.
"The only way we'd consider consolidating critical data from hundreds of servers onto one system was by choosing an IBM mainframe for its legendary reliability and availability," continued Homa. "By consolidating systems, thousands of employees -- including our warehouse specialists who listen to real-time picking and receiving instructions, and sales associates who order product for the shelves, using wireless handheld devices -- now have access to the same up-to-date data, giving us a competitive advantage."
The new System z9 at Hannaford runs such applications as a vendor portal powered by IBM WebSphere on Linux, permitting partners direct access to make order entries, schedule docks for deliveries, and check on the status of payments and orders, and SAF's Computer Assisted Ordering, using centralized data collected from the stores to the mainframe, which is then served to a new application that analyzes the data and generates stock replenishment orders. The system additionally helps to grow sales by having the right products at the right store at the right time, displayed in the right location, while it reduces excess inventory that’s not anticipated for sales.
"Hannaford's move to an on-demand infrastructure is a textbook example of efficiencies that can be gained from consolidating, integrating, and opening its IT," observed Erich Clementi, general manager IBM System z. "They are using a sophisticated computing system with virtualization and collaboration capabilities designed to be able to grow with them as they continue to expand their business."
The IBM mainframe is also the core of Hannaford's disaster recovery strategy. The primary data center running the System z9 is linked to another data center running "lights-out," with an IBM z990 server. Data from the System z9 is designed to be synchronously replicated with the remote centers and stored on an IBM TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server and IBM TotalStorage tape.
IBM began shipping the System z9 on Sept. 16.
Employing over 24,000 associates, Delhaize America, Inc.-owned Hannaford operates 200 supermarkets and food and drug combination stores in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts under the Hannaford Supermarket, Hannaford Supermarket and Pharmacy, and Victory Super Market banners. Hannaford's IT system also runs the supply chain of Florida-based chains Kash n' Karry and Sweetbay Supermarkets, also owned by Delhaize America. Delhaize America is owned by Brussels-based Delhaize Group.
Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM is the world's biggest information technology company. The company offers a wide range of services, solutions and technologies that enable customers, large and small, to take full advantage of the new era of on demand business.