Tesco sold on virtualisation

The retailer says the technology has enabled it to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent

UK retail giant Tesco claims to have reached the latest milestone in its plan to virtualise its entire server infrastructure.

In a statement released this week, the retailer said virtualisation offered a better strategy for growing its IT infrastructure compared to adding more physical servers

“While adding physical servers would require an increase in power and cooling, virtualisation has better equipped Tesco to hit its target of reducing carbon emissions from its UK datacentres by 20 per cent,” the company said.

Tesco said it has increased the capacity of its Real Time Sales (RTS) systems by around 75 percent by virtualising the systems with Citrix XenServer technology. The Citrix XenServer virtualisation software is running on HP ProLiant BL680c G5 Blade servers, according to Tesco. The retailer claims it is working with Citrix to virtualise around 1500 physical servers on XenServer, including 80 Citrix XenApp servers.

Nick Folkes, IT director at Tesco, said that its virtualised RTS environment uses less than half of the energy of equivalent physical serves which should help the company meet CO2 targets and cut electricity costs. “We’re running far more efficiently and the ongoing management of the environment is much simpler,” he said. “While our primary goal in working with Citrix and HP was to create a more flexible IT infrastructure, the consolidation benefits are significant.”

The virtualisation efforts are already bringing efficiencies according to Tesco which claims it has increased server utilisation rates to around 70 percent from the previous 6 percent for the purely physical machines.

As the UK’s largest retailer, Tesco has made some efforts towards improving the sustainability of its business and its carbon impact however green groups claim there is always more that could be done. “Tesco must also find ways of supporting their customers in adopting low carbon lifestyles whether through making the right choices easier or by taking particularly climate-damaging products off the shelves,” said Greenpeace in a statement.