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Warnaco Asia bets on virtualization

Sheila Lam | March 6, 2013
POS virtualization takes Warnaco Asia on a rapid expansion path. Warnaco Asia, the retail distributor for Calvin Klein, took a bold move five years ago--it virtualized the POS system.

"I had less than 10 people managing the POS systems," he said. "It was impossible for my team to keep up with the expansion."

Warnaco was traditionally a distributor. But five years ago the company's Asia operation decided to tap the rising retail industry and move to a direct retail model. The company planned to take over retail operations across the region and expand the number of retail stores.

For Lamp, this means his team had to manage the POS installation at each individual store. When the company took over a country's retail operation, Lamp's team also had to support the POS migration--very often within a window of eight to ten hours.

"The Taiwan takeover was a good example," he added. "There were 50 stores in the country. We were required to install 50 new POS systems and migrate all historical data to the new system, all in one night."

"With the original architecture, I would have needed a huge IT team," he said. "It'd be out of control to manage because in the world of IT, managing technology is relatively easy, but managing people is a huge issue."

To support the company's business transformation and solve the POS system problems, Lamp deployed a centralized POS architecture using desktop virtualization.

The architecture uses Citrix's XenApp and allows each retail store to access its dedicated POS system hosted centrally at Warnaco's Asia headquarters in Hong Kong. In each sale, customer loyalty information and database processing are all executed centrally. The network transmits only the keyboard entries, mouse movements and results of data processing.

"With this architecture, POS installation is simple--all we need to do is make sure the PCs get on the Internet," said Lamp. "We can also maintain, upgrade and ensure SOX and PCI compliance centrally--it's easy to manage and expand hundreds of stores and POS systems."

This architecture has been the foundation for Warnaco Asia's expansion in the past five years. Within the period, the company took over the retail operations in India, Malaysia, Macau, Singapore and Taiwan, bringing the total number of stores across Asia-Pacific to 650.

A pioneer and careful risk-taker

It was a bumpy road to success.

"I looked for prior successes, but all I found was one case in Bangkok," said Lamp. "They were running a system at only two locations! I had more than two hundred installations."

Lamp also requested help from a local POS developer. "They told me" 'you're on your own'." Without any successful cases or external support, Lamp pressed ahead. "In order to meet the management's requirements, I had no choice but to centralize the system," he said.

Lamp built a lab at the office to simulate the architecture. After two months of testing, it was deployed to run the architecture in Hong Kong and later expanded to China and the region.

 

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