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July 18, 2016updated 21 Oct 2016 4:28pm

Waitrose shopping to get smarter as it uses Pure flash to run analytics

Data centre footprint to come down as insight and speed goes up

By Sam

Pure Storage, the market’s leading independent solid-state array vendor, has announced that Waitrose is using its FlashArray technology, reducing its datacentre footprint by 75 per cent. With flash storage, Waitrose benefits from increased speed, overall improved storage performance and extra usable storage space, which it has already used for additional Oracle workloads.

Waitrose has 346 stores and 60,000 employees, runs an in-house demand forecasting application using a SAS database. It uses information from various sources to make predictions on the groceries Waitrose stores need to stock to fulfill customer demand. It does this by tracking various sets of data – for example, it can look at weather patterns over the last few years, as well as sales, dates and events.

Aaron Denton, Infrastructure Development Manager at Waitrose, said, "With this information we can accurately predict what stores will require to sell to customers. This directly drives our order fulfillment, and actively impacts what we send to stores."

The application runs using a heavy AIX operating system. Previously there were major issues using a spinning disk array for this process, but with two Pure Storage FlashArrays the app is running on much more efficient hardware, leveraging the amount of capacity that Waitrose wants to dedicate.

Denton added, “We’re still early in our journey with Pure Storage, but we’re very impressed by the way the company works and what its technology has done for our business. We want to build an ongoing relationship – we’re considering buying more storage in the short and long term.”

Flash storage provides fast speeds and a small datacentre footprint, removing complexity in Waitrose’s day-to-day storage activity. Also, Forever Flash and Evergreen storage means that when it does need upgrading, it doesn’t mean the costly implementations of the past that came with spinning disk technology.

“In today’s digital world business success depends on being able to quickly analyse and access data. This is nowhere more relevant than the retail sector, which sees millions of customer engagements every single day,” said Peter Gadd, Pure Storage’s Director of Northern EMEA. “Pure Storage was founded to fundamentally transform businesses while substantially reducing IT costs – essentially storage that pays for itself. We’re incredibly proud to be working with Waitrose and are eager to help them accelerate new possibilities in their business.”

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