Jul 11, 2023

Case study: Revolutionizing retail

Jeremy Ruff is product marketing manager for Global Edge Systems at Vertiv

Revolutionizing retail with a pre-engineered Edge data center, increasing speed of deployment, while saving energy and costs

In an era where technology continuously reshapes the dynamics of the retail industry, one American retail leader faced significant infrastructure challenges. The traditional brick-and-mortar data centers that housed their critical IT infrastructure were struggling to support the rapidly evolving business needs.

Shopping for the retail Edge solution

Expansion of these data centers presented operational and financial burdens, with cabling projects requiring the deployment of conduits across each facility, escalating costs, and causing substantial delays.

The retailer’s challenges didn't end there. The necessity of maintaining system availability and uptime meant dealing with the constant risk of integration errors and the associated downtime.

Such lapses could disrupt business operations and lead to a significant loss in potential revenue. The static nature of their data center setup further limited the retailer's agility, restricting their ability to adapt swiftly to changing business demands and ultimately hindering their progress in an increasingly digital marketplace.

In response to these challenges, the retailer turned to Vertiv's SmartRow solution. This revolutionary pre-engineered Edge data center solution is a self-contained, rack-based system that can be situated anywhere within the distribution center.

Unlike static brick-and-mortar data centers, SmartRow offers significantly more flexibility and reliability. It comes with built-in redundancy and infrastructure monitoring capabilities to ensure optimal system availability, thus minimizing the risk of system downtime. Further, it also includes lithium-ion battery systems, offering a longer service life and reducing the total cost of ownership.

The SmartRow solution presents three key advantages. Firstly, it boasts an expedited deployment, achieving approximately 95 percent faster setup compared to conventional methods of constructing or retrofitting Edge data centers.

Secondly, there are substantial cost savings, stemming from a streamlined planning and design phase, resulting in a reduction in deployment expenses.

Thirdly, it promotes energy efficiency by cooling a self-contained system rather than an entire room, thereby cutting cooling energy usage by around 30 percent and subsequently reducing carbon emissions associated with IT cooling by about 20 percent.

Additional benefits of Vertiv SmartRow extend beyond its flexibility and reliability. As an expandable modular solution, it allows IT and facilities staff to easily scale up or down, depending on business needs.

The power, cooling, and racks are designed as expandable modules, enabling quick and effortless adaptability to business growth or contraction. This has increased business agility for the retailer, allowing them to adapt and respond to changes in consumer demand or market conditions swiftly and efficiently.

Additionally, connecting critical infrastructure to nearby warehouses and logistics technology leads to cost savings on cabling and reduces data latency.

The SmartRow solution boasts several key features that have been instrumental in addressing the retailer's challenges. One of the most noteworthy aspects is the integration of power management, which is facilitated by a cabinet with pre-integrated power protection and distribution.

This unique feature allows for effective load distribution and local or remote emergency power-off tie-ins. 250kW of capacity expansion was offered through the UPS modules.

Additionally, SmartRow is equipped with a user-friendly nine-inch touchscreen panel, providing an intuitive interface for system management and monitoring. The solution also incorporates an efficient cable management system, which contributes to the overall organization and maintenance of the infrastructure.

Other features, such as emergency ventilation and fire suppression and detection systems, ensure that the solution is well-equipped to handle crisis scenarios, thereby enhancing the resilience and reliability of the data center.

Adopting Vertiv's SmartRow Edge data center solution ushered in substantial cost savings for the retailer. The initial investment was considerably less than a traditional data center build-out, primarily due to the solution's pre-integrated design, which removed the need for expensive construction projects.

Furthermore, the scalable nature of SmartRow eliminates the costs associated with overprovisioning, allowing the retailer to invest only in the capacity they need when they need it.

Moreover, the operating expenses were also reduced significantly, largely due to the energy-efficient design of SmartRow. It uses precision cooling, energy-optimized components, and advanced management software to minimize power usage and reduce cooling costs.

This, coupled with the long service life of the lithium-ion battery systems incorporated in the solution, resulted in a drastic decrease in total cost of ownership. The retailer estimates they are saving $300,000 per installation and can redirect these savings towards initiatives supporting their core business, enhancing profitability, and fostering growth.

The Vertiv SmartRow solution's flexible and repeatable design has substantially boosted the retailer's business agility. With its modular approach, the retailer can swiftly tailor its data center capabilities to align with fluctuating business requirements, with the SmartRow offering an estimated 95 percent reduction in deployment time.

This ensures that the IT infrastructure is never a roadblock to innovation or growth. Equally important is the solution's impact on system downtime. Thanks to SmartRow's built-in system redundancy and advanced infrastructure monitoring capabilities, the retailer has had zero minutes of unplanned downtime since installation, thereby eliminating the interruption to business operations and potential loss of revenue.

In essence, the implementation of SmartRow has transformed the retailer's IT framework into a dynamic asset, capable of adapting in real-time to meet business needs and ensuring 24/7 availability of critical systems.

One of the most compelling aspects of adopting the SmartRow solution is the assurance of responsive and expert service support.

Demanding consumers are stretching retailers to breaking point, forcing them to rely on Edge computing to keep up, says Vertiv's Henk Ijspeerd

With Vertiv's professional and highly trained technicians at the ready, the retailer can confidently focus on their core business activities, knowing that their IT infrastructure is in trusted hands and any issues or queries can be swiftly addressed, thereby minimizing the potential for disruptions to business operations.

This reliability of service and support further bolsters the effectiveness of the SmartRow solution, reinforcing its role as a cornerstone of the retailer's successful digital transformation.

Vertiv's SmartRow solution has proven to be a game-changer for the retailer's digital transformation journey. Its flexible, scalable, and cost-effective modular design ensures optimal system availability, drastically reduces the risk of costly downtime, and allows the retailer to scale confidently.

With added benefits like significant cost savings, increased business agility, and reliable expert support, SmartRow has reinforced the retailer's competitive edge. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, solutions like SmartRow are the key to unlocking operational efficiencies, ensuring business continuity, and ultimately driving successful digital transformation.

You can read the case study here.

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