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Retail Technology, Retail technology News

JD Williams upgrades mainframe

Thursday December 30 2010

Home shopping company enhances online shopping experience

Home shopping company enhances online shopping experience


JD Williams has partnered with Computacenter to upgrade its mainframe-based online shopping platform in the run up to Christmas.


The project, which involved the first UK implementation of the new IBM zEnterprise 196 mainframe, is anticipated to enhance the online experience for JD Williams’ customers and support business growth.


Neil McGowan, chief information officer at JD Williams, commented: “To support a richer and more responsive online environment over the busy Christmas period, we needed to enhance mainframe performance. Our mainframe environment is crucial to our competitive advantage and is responsible for processing all orders from our website and call centres. The current retail climate means it is more important than ever before to provide the most convenient and satisfying experience for customers.”


JD Williams is the UK’s leading direct home shopping company, operating more than 30 successful brands including, Bravissimo, SimplyBe and High and Mighty. The company’s mainframe processes more than 45,000 customer orders a day, which has increased to 60,000 during the festive period.


Mainframe central to operations


The mainframe upgrade, which was completed in October, is part of a wider plan to deploy a multichannel service-oriented architecture across JD Williams’ legacy infrastructure. JD Williams is one of a handful of retail organisations in the UK that combines mainframe technologies with IBM WebSphere to facilitate online trading.


The new mainframe platform includes an IBM z10 to support the company’s enterprise applications, as well as the new zEnterprise z196. Jeff Cattle, head of computer services at JD Williams, added: “With the new environment, we will be able to balance workloads across different processers to improve mainframe efficiency and eliminate the need for expensive upgrades to support business expansion in the future.”


Computacenter worked closely with JD Williams and IBM to scope the requirements of the upgrade and ensure the new technology, which was only formally released in October 2010, would offer a seamless shopping experience for the company's two million customers. Computacenter, which claims to be the largest independent ‘Z’ series provider for products and services in the UK outside of IBM, also helped with solution design, installation and configuration.


“Computacenter assisted with detailed planning to address the challenges associated with being an early adopter of a new technology. Thanks to the partnership, the deployment was completed successfully and with no impact on customer services,” added Cattle.