When it found the performance of a legacy data-processing system lagging too far behind the pace of its business, Alpharetta, Georgia-based The Original HoneyBaked Ham Co. of Georgia, Inc. decided to investigate more current options. Difficulties keeping up with the flow of transactional data from its 115 corporate stores and 200 franchise locations during the 2011 holiday season marked the turning point for the retailer.
“We had been slowing down in performance for the past two years,” recalled Kevin Madsen, director of IT infrastructure for HoneyBaked Ham of Georgia. “During the 2011 holiday season, we tried to do near-real-time transactional data processing all the way up to storage. We couldn’t keep up with the holiday load. Stores would fall behind the data at nine or 10 in the morning and stay behind till three or four the next morning.”
In early 2012, HoneyBaked Ham began speaking with some major data processing technology providers. After narrowing the selection to two finalists, the retailer selected HP 3PAR Dynamic Optimization Software and HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage solutions at the beginning of the second quarter.
“We selected HP due to price and because they handle data clusters in hardware,” said Madsen. “Hardware is always faster than software.”
Speed also applied to HoneyBaked Ham’s implementation of the HP technology, which Madsen estimated took about four hours.
“I had a good handle on everything I needed to do,” he said. “I was fully using it after about six weeks, but that was because of me. It could have been a heck of a lot quicker.”
To reduce ongoing investment costs, the retailer implemented HP 3PAR Thin Provisioning software, which improves storage efficiency and asset utilization. Now HoneyBaked saves approximately 50% in storage capacity, which minimizes future hardware investments as the company scales its data storage infrastructure. This hardware reduction also lowers data center power and cooling costs.
HoneyBaked Ham also deployed multilayer HP 7500 Switch Series, HP ProLiant DL360 Servers, HP Deployment Services and HP 24/7 support. The retailer purchased HP Converged Infrastructure solutions through HP channel partner VeriStor.
Madsen said the big test of the new HP data processing environment came during last year’s holiday season, when there were no performance complaints from any stores and HoneyBaked Ham obtained a view of transactional data that only ran about 30 seconds behind real time. He listed several other important benefits the retailer has gained from the technology, which also supports its VMWare hosts and email system.
Making the Right Call
“We now have one pool of stores to manage so we don’t have to worry anymore about juggling processes during peak load times to determine which are more or less important,” said Madsen. “The data enables our retail management team to make better decisions in the middle of the day for things like labor productivity and scheduling.”
In addition, Madsen said the HP data processing technology also assists HoneyBaked Ham with processes such as managing inventory and long-term customer demand forecasting. The retailer is clearly confident based on last year’s successful holiday season.
“We’re doing a lot of planning and ordering for the holidays,” stated Madsen.