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Retail connects the dots with Azure Stack HCI

Retail connects the dots with Azure Stack HCI

Why retail business choose Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Hyperconverged Infrastructure. It is not a day-to-day term for everyone. Yet IT managers know the potential of HCI for the IT infrastructure of the retail companies they work for. In this blog, read about the benefits of HCI for retail and find out why Azure Stack HCI is the best choice.


What does HCI mean and what are the benefits?

To understand the positive impact HCI has on a retail business, we first explain to you what exactly we mean by HCI.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure: what's in a name?

We define Hyperconverged Infrastructure or HCI as a software-defined IT infrastructure framework that integrates compute, storage and networking components into a single, unified system. To fully understand this definition, we unravel its various components:

  • HCI is software-defined - That means HCI relies on software to manage underlying hardware. The major advantage over traditional systems that operate purely on hardware is therefore the high degree of flexibility that HCI offers.
  • HCI offers huge computing power - Computing power here refers to HCI's processing power. It provides that via servers or virtual machines (VMs). In HCI, so-called 'compute resources' are part of the integrated system. This ensures that it can handle any application and workload.
  • HCI focuses on storage capacity - In an HCI, 'storage resources' are all in the same infrastructure. In the form of traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs) or other storage technologies. By integrating storage, HCI eliminates the need for separate storage networks (SANs) or network attached storage devices (NAS). 
  • Different network components - Network components - in the context of HCI - include switches, routers and network interfaces. These are part of the HCI solution.  They are components that facilitate communication between different parts of the infrastructure and external networks or devices.
  • A single, unified system - This means that computing power, storage and network components are managed and controlled through a single interface or management platform. This makes for a very uncluttered IT environment.

In short: the big advantage of HCI lies in the scalability it offers without sacrificing performance in terms of processing power, storage and network capacity. Just because it is powered and managed by software, the possibilities for improving your organisation's efficiency are endless.


HCI, nothing but benefits for ambitious companies

By bringing computing power, storage and network capacity together in a single platform, HCI offers several advantages.

  1. Easier to manage - In a single interface or dashboard, you get an overview of all aspects of the IT infrastructure. As a result, you reduce infrastructure complexity and operational overheads.
  2. Enormously scalable - If you need more capacity or the processing power of your infrastructure is no longer sufficient, you easily add nodes or nodes to your HCI solution. This is much easier than scaling up traditional data centre environments.
  3. Efficiency leads - Better collaboration between components, optimisation of resources and better performance of your IT infrastructure. All thanks to the efficiency of an integrated HCI solution.
  4. Cost-saving - On the one hand, you have much lower costs associated with purchasing hardware components and maintaining them. On the other hand, working in an HCI environment also reduces management costs and overhead. 

Four advantages that are absolutely decisive in a retail environment. 

Download our Smart Retail e-book, to discover all the benefits of hybrid cloud based on Azure Stack HCI for your retail business.
Download our e-book


HCI: driving force for the retail sector

The benefits of HCI you learnt above are crucial for retail businesses. The examples below paint a concrete picture of the biggest pluses of HCI for retail.

  • Manage all branches centrally -  Easy-to-manage IT systems that you easily adapt to needs and changes in the market give you the ability to scale up and down as needed. This is done through a central management interface where administrators oversee the entire infrastructure from a dashboard. Tasks such as monitoring performance, managing storage capacity and configuring networks are all done from a single interface. Retail chains with multiple shops in different locations need just one IT team to manage all branches through one central platform. Analyse performance of each individual shop, allocate resources when needed, or ensure consistent configurations across all shop locations, your IT team does it through one central management system.

  • Responding quickly to market opportunities - In addition, HCI automates a huge number of tasks around the creation and deployment of infrastructure components, making them faster and easier to deploy. Think of virtual machines (VMs), creating storage volumes and configuring network settings. Suppose you are launching a new e-commerce platform to support online sales. With HCI, your IT team will quickly create the necessary VMs, allocate storage resources for the database and web servers, and configure network settings through the same management interface. In no time, your e-commerce environment is live and fully operational. This allows your organisation to respond quickly to market opportunities.

  • Proactive problem solving - It is very easy for administrators in an HCI environment to monitor the health and performance of the entire infrastructure in real time. Thanks to a solid system of alerts and notifications, they are immediately aware of any problems or potential bottlenecks. This gives them the information they need right away to proactively solve problems. This is very useful during peak periods such as sales or Black Friday. Especially online, your IT environment can then withstand increased traffic without losing performance. Thanks to the integrated monitoring tools in HCI, your IT team keeps a close eye on system performance and reacts quickly to any problems. A seamless shopping experience for your customers guaranteed!

  • Secure data easily -  With centralised, simple management systems, HCI makes it easier to implement configurations and corporate policies consistently across your entire organisation. This has many advantages for complying with rules around security and legal provisions and avoiding configuration errors and inconsistencies. As a retail business, you are constantly working with customers' personal data or payment information. HCI makes it easy for your IT teams to implement and maintain reliable security policies. Examples include encryption protocols and access controls across all branches and online platforms. This ensures that customer data remains secure and compliant with regulations such as the AVG.

  • Scaling up quickly without major costs - Is your retail organisation booming? Then your IT infrastructure grows with you. At least, if you work in HCI. This is because it makes it possible to add resources, such as additional nodes, step by step without large investments or disruptive migrations. Suppose your retail shop is subject to seasonal fluctuations in demand. For example, around the major holidays or holiday seasons. Instead of investing in heavy infrastructure that remains underutilised during quiet periods, start with a modest implementation of HCI and add additional nodes as demand increases. So you count on extra computing and storage resources to handle online traffic pressure on Black Friday or during the sales. Without having to invest in new (expensive) hardware components or undergo drastic migrations.

  • Scaling up without failure - Besides lower costs to scale up, HCI also guarantees that you won't experience downtime when you demand more from your IT infrastructure.  Your ongoing operations are not affected because HCI works with live migration and automated workload balancing. These ensure that applications and data remain accessible during the scaling process. When you need to expand your shop network and IT infrastructure to support business growth, your IT team seamlessly adds new nodes to your HCI environment without affecting the customer experience through interruptions or failures. This applies to purchases made in-store and online.

  • Allocating resources dynamically - With HCI, you decide which resources to deploy. You even do so dynamically based on different workloads and applications to optimise performance and cost efficiency. Retail organisations encompass a lot of different internal processes. From POS systems to inventory management to customer-facing applications. In an HCI environment, you allocate resources dynamically based on the needs of each workload. During peak periods in online shopping, you thus support the capacity to handle online traffic by temporarily scaling back other applications.


No retail without HCI?

The sum of all these benefits makes it almost impossible for dynamic retail organisations to grow cost-effectively without HCI implementation. But one HCI solution is not the other. So get guidance from experts for:
  1. A thorough cloud assessment to map your current IT infrastructure and analyse your future needs,
  2. Propose the appropriate solution, including HCI, and
  3. Managing the implementation of your future IT architecture to avoid downtime and failures.
Download our Smart Retail e-book, to discover all the benefits of hybrid cloud based on Azure Stack HCI for your retail business.
Download our e-book