Successful cloud transformation
Business has little patience left for IT. This is something Niklaus Wirz, head of IT of Jelmoli, is also aware of. His cloud solution allows him to be efficient, while also able to react promptly to business requirements at any time.
The Jelmoli department store, which boasts a long tradition, has been part of the real estate company Swiss Prime Site since 2009, and as «The House of Brands» with a premium range of products, represents its retail area of business. The move to the Swiss Prime Site group brought many changes for the IT: The workforce in the IT department was reduced dramatically. Existing systems were to be superseded by new infrastructure.
The IT restructure was pursued within the scope of the comprehensive reorganisation project called «Smart». The decision to transfer the majority of the infrastructure to the cloud proved to be the most successful measure of all from the perspective of IT, as Niklaus Wirz, Head of IT at Jelmoli, notes: «This allowed us to switch from the old AS/400 systems, involving a mix of in-house and hosted services, to a state-of-the-art, uniform environment. The cloud allows us to seize the opportunity to remain agile in a constantly changing market environment.» Jelmoli placed its trust in Swisscom as a partner for the cloud transformation.
The cloud transformation is now reality at Jelmoli. The company currently operates 34 production servers and 31 test servers in the Swisscom cloud, and uses around 21 terabytes of storage capacity. Wirz values the flexibility and scalability: «We pay for what we need, while not having to create a reserve infrastructure, which would involve considerable investment. We're also set for up-and-coming requirements. For instance, we're able to connect an additional server without any fuss – this with immediate effect and for exactly as long as we need it.»
Almost the entire IT now runs on the cloud infrastructure, including a financial solution from Soreco and the retail and merchandise management system Futura4retail. The file servers, the active directory and domain controllers are still operated in-house, as was previously the case – «which is everything we need to keep operating at a minimum,» as Wirz explains.
The cloud can unfold its full potential at Jelmoli in the development and test environment as well: It was also possible to build an exact copy of the production system with identical IP addresses, and without lasting problems, as the IT team at Jelmoli had wanted.
Niklaus Wirz considers the cloud migration to be a resounding success, which also extends to Swisscom as a partner: «An important advantage is the proximity. We have a central contact partner and can rely on prompt support – even if there was initially potential for improvement in this regard.» Also decisive was Switzerland as a data location, something which is stipulated by the Management Board.
The Smart project originally envisaged outsourcing operational responsibilities to overseas partners. This was not implemented. «Off-shoring, in my opinion, is particularly suitable for development, and any maintenance tasks required for the products developed,» as Wirz states, adding that he prefers proximity and availability, where practicable, for IT partners.
When Peter Jelmoli-Ciolina opened the first Jelmoli location in 1833, his idea of doing business based on fixed prices, with no more bargaining, was revolutionary. Over the last 183 years, the company has had a history characterised by a wealth of changes. Jelmoli is now part of Swiss Prime Site and – as the largest premium department store in Switzerland – now offers a product range encompassing around two million articles from almost one thousand of the most popular brands in the world in its 6-storey, 33,000 square metre premises in Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse. More than 1,000 qualified employees ensure an unforgettable shopping experience and competent advice.
«The cloud will allow us to remain agile in a market environment characterised by change.»
Niklaus Wirz, Head of IT, Jelmoli
When Niklaus Wirz first assumed his position as the head of IT at Jelmoli in December 2015, the security provisions required further improvements, and the old, failure-prone server infrastructure needed to be replaced.
A new security strategy was sought. For Wirz, it was clear that the cloud can also provide benefits in this regard. Today, a managed firewall in the Swisscom cloud, supplemented by local firewalls, ensures secure mail and Internet traffic without malware infections. Additional security for clients, regardless of their location and type of device, is offered by Zscaler Web Security as a cloud service.
Digitalisation is also an issue for Jelmoli, despite its main focus being personal, on-site service. The company has been operating an online shop of its own on jelmoli.ch for some time now, with a product range carefully selected from the items available in-store. For Wirz, even more important than the digital sales approach is the digitalisation of conventional business processes, such as those using the planned signature solution for automatic creditor registration and scanning of invoices. «That used to be done with stamps and manual signatures. Swisscom can also provide us with support for projects like this.»
Wirz expects Jelmoli to become even more agile in future in terms of IT. «Internal customers are no longer willing to create an interminably long project application, and instead want an immediate solution. This puts a lot of expectations on the IT»
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