Iceland Foods

Data Platform

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Case Study: Iceland Foods


  • In 2019, Iceland Foods' existing data warehouse, a proprietary platform created by Teradata for analysing customers and sales insights was coming to its end of life.
  • WARDY IT Solutions were able to demonstrate our skills quickly. We reviewed elements of the data warehouse and were proactive in suggesting improvements.
  • The migration to Azure Synapse has resulted in significantly reduced operational costs and increased agility.
iceland-foods-logo

 

Client: Iceland Foods

Website: ICeland.co.uk

Category: Data Platform

Iceland Foods modernises data estate with WARDY IT Solutions

UK supermarket chain, Iceland Foods have a high dependency on data to allow key staff to assess customer and sales insights. In 2019, the existing data estate, a proprietary platform created by Teradata, was coming to its end of life. 

The Iceland Foods team knew that replacing the Teradata platform would be a complex process. The data estate had been in place for 20 years and since its implementation, Cloud technology had evolved resulting in new alternative options for a modern data estate. Iceland Foods needed to increase the agility of the data platform in order to drive more value from the data. 

Concerns with replacing the old Teradata platform with a newer version of Teradata also centred on the niche skill set necessary to access the data.  Phil Oldfield, Database Administrator at Iceland Foods, contacted Microsoft to discuss options for the new estate.

“A lot of our staff have experience working with Microsoft products, so Microsoft seemed like a possible option. The current platform is difficult for new staff to understand and access and it can pose challenges for recruitment,” says Phil. 

With time of the essence due to the approaching end of life, Microsoft connected Iceland Foods with data estate specialists, WARDY IT Solutions.

“The WARDY IT Solutions team were able to demonstrate their skills very quickly. They reviewed elements of the estate and were quick to suggest improvements, changes and provide an overview. Other organisations we met with were much more reactive and did not have the strategic outlook that Peter and his team have.”

– Phil Oldfield, Database Administrator at Iceland Foods.

A long-distance relationship that worked

Iceland Foods

When it came to crunch time, the Iceland Foods team agreed that the technical knowledge and extensive experience that WARDY IT Solutions could offer, would be crucial for the successful migration of the data estate. 

“The WARDY IT Solutions team were able to demonstrate their skills very quickly. They reviewed elements of the estate and were quick to suggest improvements, changes and provide an overview. Other organisations we met with were much more reactive and did not have the strategic outlook that Peter and his team have,” says Phil. 

With the time difference between the UK and Australia being significant, Phil had some initial concerns about how the process would be managed. However he quickly discovered that time zones made no difference to the process, with WARDY IT Solutions ensuring engineers and consultants were available around the clock.

“The team aligned to all our meeting times and were very accommodating. Early on, they sent staff to the UK to get a deeper understanding of how we use the data estate and what we need from it,” adds Phil. 

The solution identified for Iceland Foods was to create a new modern data warehouse using Azure Synapse.  This would accelerate the company’s journey to the Cloud and introduce HADR (high availability and disaster recovery). 

Before migrating, there was a lot of work of preparation work to be done, however WARDY IT Solutions’ expertise and willingness to assist made the process much easier for Iceland Foods. 

“Moving from such an established system to a brand new, revolutionary platform was definitely daunting because there are some unknowns. Essentially, we had to take a leap of faith. But we didn’t have any concerns when it came to WARDY IT Solutions. The knowledge and level of support they provided made the decision a lot easier to make,” says Phil. 

Data Warehouse Iceland Foods

The benefits of a modern data estate

The migration to Azure Synapse has resulted in significantly reduced operational costs. The modern data warehouse has transformed Iceland Foods from an expensive capital expenditure model to a cost-effective operational expenditure model. 

The modern data estate is user friendly and built using familiar Microsoft technology. This enables key business leaders to access information with greater ease and easily ingest additional data sources to augment their existing data. 

In turn this ease-of-use has made recruitment easier for Iceland Foods, as there are less technical skills required to access and analyse the information. This also means that onboarding staff and providing training is a quicker and smoother process. 

The data itself, the most important component, has proven to be as robust and reliable as it was before the migration, meaning the transition has been a success. However, the opportunities for how to use this content are now much greater due to the intelligent functionality of Azure Synapse. 

The new solution is also scalable and can adapt to meet the requirements of peak trading times including Christmas. With the former estate retired, the Azure data estate aligns with Iceland Foods’ broader business plan of Cloud migration.

“Moving from such an established system to a brand new, revolutionary platform was definitely daunting because there are some unknowns. Essentially, we had to take a leap of faith. But we didn’t have any concerns when it came to WARDY IT Solutions. The knowledge and level of support they provided made the decision a lot easier to make."

– Phil Oldfield, Database Administrator at Iceland Foods.

Words of advice

For Phil, the key learning he took away was that the process would have benefited with a longer lead time. Not specifically for the migration but for the internal work that had to be conducted beforehand. 

“I think creating proof of concept is important for a partner but also for the internal team. By taking a subset of what you want to deliver and looking at the challenges, you can understand what you need to do to deliver the full project. The more time you have to do this, the better,” says Phil. 

 

Vision for the Future

The next step for Iceland Foods is to explore the machine learning possibilities available to them. The team aspire to use AI to enable staff to conduct sophisticated data analysis.  Additionally, Phil and his team are planning on working closely with WARDY IT Solutions to optimise the estate now it is in place. 

“Our initial brief was to recreate the estate we had before, now we want to adjust that and optimise it to ensure we are improving performance and reducing cost where possible.”

– Phil Oldfield, Database Administrator at Iceland Foods.

Bring your data, teams, and skills together with Azure Synapse Analytics

Azure Synapse is a limitless analytics service that brings together enterprise data warehousing and Big Data analytics. It gives you the freedom to query data on your terms, using either serverless on-demand or provisioned resources—at scale. Azure Synapse brings these two worlds together with a unified experience to ingest, prepare, manage, and serve data for immediate BI and machine learning needs.

  • Limitless scale: Deliver insights from all your data, across data warehouses and big data analytics systems, with blazing speed
  • Powerful insights: Expand discovery of insights from all your data and apply machine learning models to all your intelligent apps
  • Unified experience: Significantly reduce project development time with a unified experience for developing end-to-end analytics solutions
  • Unmatched security: Secure data with the most advanced security and privacy features in the market, such as column- and row-level security and dynamic data masking

 

Why Azure Synapse Analytics is simply unmatched

  • Price-performance
  • Security
  • Insights for all

What’s the best compliment to Azure Analytics’ unmatched price-performance and security? The answer is Microsoft Power BI. Power BI’s ease of use enables everyone in your organization to benefit from our analytics stack. Employees can get their insights in seconds from all enterprise data stored in Azure. And without limitations on concurrency, Power BI can be used across teams to create the most beautiful visualizations that deliver powerful insights.

Leveraging Microsoft’s Common Data Model, Power BI users can easily access and analyze enterprise data using a common data schema without needing complex data transformation. Customers looking for petabyte-scale analytics can leverage Power BI Aggregations with Azure SQL Data Warehouse for rapid query. Better yet, Power BI users can easily apply sophisticated AI models built with Azure. Powerful insights easily accessible to all.

Learn more.

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About WARDY IT Solutions

  • 65 employees
  • Information Technology
  • Australia & USA
  • www.wardyit.com

WARDY IT Solutions are Australia’s leading SQL Server and Business Intelligence specialists. The company creates solutions that enable businesses to maximise returns on their investment in knowledge management. Through the extensive use of Business Intelligence, WARDY IT Solutions help their clients to realise the best possible dividend from their data assets.

WARDY IT Solutions have received numerous industry accolades, most notably the prestigious Microsoft Global Data Platform Partner of the Year in 2013. The organisation is recognised internationally for their innovative solutions, training skills and unwavering commitment to education and furthering the interests of the broader Microsoft SQL Server community.

WARDY IT Solutions deliver:

  • Project Delivery based on time and resources
  • Consultation and Gap analysis
  • SQL Server database design and programming
  • Support services
  • Managed Services and Business Intelligence Solutions
  • Business Intelligence Consulting, including strategy, review, design and implementation of Business Intelligence Solutions

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