By Samuel Greengard
Building a better IT department is the goal of every enterprise. For Circulo K Mexico, a subsidiary of the Circle K global convenience store chain, the need to upgrade and modernize aging infrastructure was paramount. A couple of years ago, the company— which operates 220 stores throughout Mexico, while Circle K operates more than 12,000 stores worldwide—embarked on a major IT project designed to make it more responsive to the needs of today’s marketplace.
“We were facing a lot of problems and limitations due to an aging IT infrastructure,” says Carlos Guerrero, manager of information technology infrastructure at Circle K Mexico. In the past, the company had tapped an array of vendors and relied only on physical servers to power the organization. However, Guerrero recognized the need to transition to a virtualized IT environment and build more robust storage capabilities.
After examining a number of different technologies, vendors and approaches, Circulo K Mexico turned to IBM PureSystems to drive the IT transformation. The technology, which supports server virtualization, cloud computing and big data initiatives, provided the cohesive and integrated framework Guerrero and his colleagues in IT desired.
“We needed a more consolidated and efficient approach to business and IT, and the IBM technology delivered on that,” he explains.
The virtualized IT environment provides a high level of flexibility. Previously, provisioning servers and services could take upward of three months and require complicated processes. The task now takes 30 minutes or less.
The infrastructure also delivers a highly consolidated approach to operating the data center and the overall IT environment. Circulo K Mexico now uses only three physical servers instead of the previous 12, plus approximately 20 virtual servers. The initiative has delivered lower IT costs and faster input/output speeds across servers, routers, switches and other equipment.
In addition, the company has realized other benefits from the move to the PureFlex environment. For example, Circulo K Mexico has transitioned from local storage to a far more efficient storage area network (SAN) environment. “In the past, we had backups scattered across systems and servers,” Guerrero says. “There were a number of problems associated with the approach.”
Today’s high-availability backup system speeds recovery times and reduces critical application failures by up to 90 percent. The recovery window now averages about 15 minutes. “In the event of a problem, we have systems back up and running—along with the associated data—very quickly,” he notes
Adopting a more sophisticated, consolidated and strategic approach to IT has created a sum greater than the technology parts, Guerrero points out. In addition to marked performance gains across servers and systems, IT has gained greater oversight and control throughout the organization.
“Circulo K Mexico has a much better strategy and IT infrastructure in place,” he explains. “We have an IT solution that provides the flexibility to manage today’s environment but also to grow and expand the business for many years to come.”