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October 11, 2012

Sears Takes Open Source Route for Building IT Landscape

As Sears reconstructs its IT landscape with open source technology, legacy vendors like IBM and Oracle are finding themselves out, says IT expert Dennis Howlett.

In a column in the Open Source (News - Alert) section of ZDNet, Howlett wrote that the existing Sears technology vendors were unable to keep up with the demands of the business. Hence, the company decided to adopt open source technology to create a more efficient IT infrastructure that is better suited to support the growing business at a lower cost.

The Open Source column paints IBM (News - Alert) mainframes and Oracle Exadata as two expensive technologies that are not flexible enough to adapt to the changes of the business.

Wrote Howlett: “Oracle (News - Alert) RAC is being used only where absolutely necessary, and MySQL is seen as a compelling and viable alternative in most situations.” Additionally, as per this column, Sears is also slowly drifting away from Microsoft (News - Alert) (Mail), Netezza (DW) and Greenplum (DW) in favor of open source solutions.

Consequently, to gain flexibility with cost effectiveness, the column indicates that Sears has been investing heavily in Hadoop, Linux and Private Clouds, as well as in IT personnel with advanced skills. In fact, despite spending more money on skilled staff, the overall cost savings associated with dropping legacy systems suggests it is well worth it.

Also, the Open Source column indicates that by standardizing on few technologies, the IT can leverage the staff across multiple requirements. For instance, wrote Howlett, “ETL workloads on Hadoop have helped Sears make big strides towards a single source of truth that was previously impossible.”

Meanwhile, Sears is also investing in high bandwidth connections to its stores and mobile, thereby increasing demand for big data management and analytics.

The column shows that Sears is planning to turn its IT services into a commercial entity through the MetaScale subsidiary. It hopes that this will help other large IT organizations to adopt open source technologies by utilizing the company’s internally developed skills.

Edited by Braden Becker

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