Kiabi Logo
Industry: Retail & Fashion
Location: France
Download Full Story



  • Doubled performance of certain Oracle databases versus AIX
  • Decreased TCO of IT for logistics by 30 percent
  • Cut time-to-market for new services from weeks to hours


Kiabi migrated several key business systems to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, doubling performance for some critical Oracle databases, and cutting time-to-market for new services from weeks to hours.


French company Kiabi is a privately held clothing retailer with 450 stores across France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Morocco, the Netherlands and China. Offering fashionable clothing at low prices has helped Kiabi to thrive and grow; the company has annual revenues of approximately € 1.3 billion and employs 7,500 people.

The Challenge

Kiabi runs its core business applications on a centralized infrastructure across two data centers. In the past, the majority of servers ran Sun Solaris, while the most business-critical applications—including warehouse management, logistics and stock replenishment software—ran on clustered IBM AIX servers for optimal performance and resilience.

Hervé Pouille, UNIX Technical Manager at Kiabi, said, “We were almost completely a UNIX shop, with our other key technologies being Oracle database, Apache and Java. When Oracle bought Sun, and consequently Java and MySQL, it was immediately obvious that we had too many eggs in one basket.

Kiabi was not comfortable with this level of dependence on a single vendor, which triggered our decision to migrate as soon as possible to a new platform.”

“The ease of management offered by SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is a major advantage. Virtualizing on VMware is very simple, and tools such as YaST and AutoYaST make it fast and easy to set up new servers for the business.”

SUSE Solution

Kiabi had already deployed Linux for some back-end Apache services, and had run a major exercise to validate the open source platform for more critical environments. “We had migrated our CUPS environment to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server three years before, with excellent results,” said H. Pouille. “This environment now covers 3,000 printers in the stores and warehouses, printing on average two documents per second, and the reliability provided by SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has always been very impressive.”

The IT team performed further tests to validate Oracle on Linux, and saw that Linux would also offer performance advantages for systems running on Solaris and AIX. When the acquisition of Sun by Oracle triggered the migration decision, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server was the obvious choice.

Kiabi migrated more than 100 Solaris servers to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, supporting mostly Tomcat application servers and Oracle database farms, and has since scaled up to approximately 200 servers, more than 90 percent of which are virtualized on VMware.

“Virtualization is a vital tool in supporting the ongoing growth of the business while minimizing IT costs,” said H. Pouille. “SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is excellent on VMware, enabling us to run multiple highly demanding servers on the same hardware for cost savings and simplified disaster recovery.”

The migration ran very smoothly, with experienced UNIX technicians requiring almost no training to make the switch.

“The ease of management offered by SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is a major advantage,” said H. Pouille. “Virtualizing on VMware is very simple, and tools such as YaST® and AutoYaST make it fast and easy to set up new servers for the business.”

The Results

As a result of virtualization and the migration to Linux, Kiabi has cut the go-tomarket time for new services from several weeks to a matter of hours. “There are always demands from the business for new functionality, putting great pressure on our developers,” said Pouille. “Thanks to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on VMware, we can give developers the server resources they need almost instantly, cutting several weeks from the typical development cycle.”

Kiabi has measured a doubling of performance for some critical Oracle database environments running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server versus IBM AIX. Combined with significant cost reductions on the hardware side, it is no surprise that the preferred platform for all new deployments at Kiabi is SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

“We are part-way through a TCO study for Linux on Intel, and already we can see that migrating our logistics infrastructure alone will deliver more than 30 percent savings in operational IT costs,” said H. Pouille. “Equally, the simplification in provisioning and managing servers has freed up skilled staff to focus on quality of service for the business.”

Hervé Pouille is quick to note that open source is not a synonym for free; the cost savings enabled by Linux stem less from licensing and more from reduced management effort.

“Our strong relationship with SUSE and the support from their technical team is vital,” he added. “With other distributions, we don’t get the same sense of all-round support and integration. Another major benefit is all the tools bundled with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, which help to make it a flexible and highly economical platform for business services in a large retail environment.”