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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 believed this architecture would support the entire region after we successfully rolled out the system in Shanghai and Beijing," he said. "But a major flaw of this architecture is its dependency on the public Internet infrastructure."

At the store level, 3G USB modems serve as backup mobile Internet access. At the datacenter, Warnaco uses three different ISPs--CiticCPCNet, PCCW and Singtel--to ensure connectivity.

Lamp also set up a DR center with an external co-location service provider to support an active-active backup of the company's real-time transactions. To enhance security, a two-factor authentication log-in is also required to access the POS systems.

"This is a critical centralized system, so the DR plan is extremely important," he said. "We are making an effort to ensure the DR plan is perfect with zero downtime."

Dealing with scalability

Lamp said each physical server supports a maximum of 25 stores. With hundreds of POS systems hosting at one location, Warnaco Asia's datacenter started to run out of space about two years ago.

"We don't have the space, not to mention air-conditioning and UPSs, to support hundreds of servers," he said. Server virtualization was the answer--using Citrix's XenServer, each physical server can support up to 150 stores.

Through leveraging both server and desktop virtualization technologies, Lamp solved his POS issues. He is also able to prepare for Warnaco Asia's upcoming plan: to expand the number of retail stores from 650 to 1,000 stores within 2013. His success was a result of combining risk-taking attitude with well-planned implementation.

"If I didn't take that risk, the company would look very different now," Lamp concluded.


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