With customers increasingly turning to digital channels, fashion retail giant C&A relies on tightly integrated workflows to provide a seamless shopping experience. To support smooth sales, financial and reporting processes, C&A runs mission-critical analytics, backup and SAP business applications on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for z Systems. The combination of easy-to-use SUSE Linux Enterprise Server with a highly reliable IBM z Systems mainframe delivers top stability and performance to keep the business running around the clock.

Overview

Founded in 1841 in the Netherlands, C&A has grown to become one of the world’s largest fashion retailers. Today, the company operates over 1,600 stores across Europe, which welcome more than 2 million shoppers each day. Renowned for offering high-quality fashion at affordable prices, C&A is headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany, and Brussels, Belgium, and employs around 35,000 people.

The Challenge

C&A has always been at the forefront of change in the fashion industry—from taking advantage of new production techniques to pioneering the ability for customers to return goods. To stay competitive in today’s increasingly digital retail marketplace, C&A offers shopping services that enable customers to browse and buy goods in store, online or on their mobile devices.

To support sales across all channels around the world, C&A depends on integrated processes and mission-critical business applications running reliably at all times. The company’s data-driven omnichannel processes rely on fast connections between different business applications.

Previously, with applications and databases hosted on different infrastructure platforms, data exchange between the systems was limited by network performance—slowing down operational workflows. In the fast-paced fashion retail market, where every second counts, such delays threatened to diminish business agility.

To gain efficiencies, increase reliability and cut costs, C&A wanted to run its most critical business systems on a single, highly available platform.

Running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on IBM z Systems, C&A improved application performance for its data-intensive workflows on a high-availability, cost-effective platform.

SUSE Solution

After evaluating different options, C&A decided to migrate its SAP applications, including SAP Business Warehouse, from a UNIX environment based on IBM Power Systems servers running the IBM AIX operating system to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for z Systems running on the company’s central IBM z Systems mainframe.

C&A selected SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for z Systems because it enabled the company to take advantage of cost-effective processing capacity while improving reliability and performance. By choosing SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for z Systems over IBM z/OS, C&A benefits from the Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) processors in the mainframe. Dedicated to Linux workloads, the IFLs are specifically designed to enhance mainframe economics and reduce operating costs.

Consolidating database and application servers on a single platform helps C&A to ensure that the mission-critical components of its ERP environment and SAP business applications support retail operations without delays and interruption.

The company worked closely with SUSE and technology partner SVA System Vertrieb Alexander GmbH to facilitate a smooth transition.

Embracing SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for z Systems and making the most of its existing mainframe infrastructure, the company runs a wide range of other applications on the IBM z Systems server. Crucially, the company’s central data backup and recovery solution—based on IBM Spectrum Protect software—runs on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for z Systems. The winning combination of SUSE Linux and IBM z Systems delivers solid reliability, giving C&A peace of mind that data is protected no matter what, ensuring that C&A can keep operations running even after the unlikely event of unplanned downtime at one of its data centers.

C&A uses other open source software, such as the Piwik web analytics platform, on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for z Systems—a key solution to monitor and analyze website traffic, and gather information on website and e-store visitors, including omnichannel conversion rates. Furthermore, C&A supports in-house software development teams with open source version control tools running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for z Systems.

With SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, C&A also benefits from easy portability. Now, the company can easily move Linux applications between hardware platforms to get the best performance. For example, C&A moved its open source IT management tool Nagios from IBM z Systems to its x86 environment to optimize resource efficiency and operating costs.

The Results

Running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on IBM z Systems, C&A improved application performance for data-intensive workflows on a high-availability, cost-effective platform.

Now, the company’s critical SAP business applications run on the same hardware platform as the supporting IBM DB2 for z/OS database. Thanks to the mainframe’s integrated HiperSockets technology, C&A no longer relies on slow network connections to transfer data between the database and SAP applications. Instead, it can use much faster, low-latency HiperSockets connectivity, accelerating business and analytics applications, and increasing staff productivity.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for z Systems provides C&A with the reliability, stability and performance needed to keep the business running around the clock.