Infosys and DXC along with Amazon Web Services (AWS) are helping retail giant Kmart Group get ready to shift its mainframe applications into the AWS cloud.
Kmart Group CTO Michael Fagan said its merchandise, inventory, and supply chain applications currently run on its mainframe infrastructure, describing it as the "heart and soul of any retailer".
However, in briefing to the media, Fagan said the Australian retail giant will now undertake the "holy grail" of infrastructure projects.
These types of projects are notoriously difficult to undertake and not every company can pull it off, but Fagan was confident the switch will be successful when it goes ahead this weekend.
“The mainframe is the big one, they’re notoriously difficult to do," he said. "For companies that have been born in the last 10 or so years, they’re probably not on mainframe, but if you’re a Kmart or a Target that are 50 or 100 years old, respectively, there are some code in those mainframes that are older than me, which is pretty old.”
Fagan said there will be cleaning up of the old code, and some of it will just run in the cloud in a mainframe emulator.
At the same time, Kmart will be taking slices of the mainframe off and re-building apps as capability-bound micro services that can interact with other parts of the business in a truly digital fashion.
“Some of the applications in the mainframe have already been sliced off, rebuilt and regenerated, and some are still to be done,” he said. “Those applications that aren’t yet in the cloud, we’ll look to migrate at a later stage."
“One of the exciting things about working in retail is that there’s so much technology - online website, order orchestration, in-store technologies, and supply chain technologies in warehousing,” Fagan added.
Some of Kmart Group’s finance and HR functions are already in a cloud environment, while its online functions also currently run outside of a mainframe infrastructure.
Fagan said it was a pretty significant effort and particularly highlighted all staff were aware of the main goal behind the infrastructure shift, as its entire IT team has undertaken AWS training and certification, including non-technical staff such as top-line management, marketing and even store line managers.
“We’ve got a pretty strong heritage of tech talent at Kmart, and we probably build more tech than what we buy, but also partnering with AWS, Infosys and DXC that have done a great job with us too,” he said.
Infosys A/NZ head of delivery and operations, Ashok Mysore said Kmart’s mainframe applications migration and modernisation to the cloud, will give them the business agility needed to deploy and scale new offerings and deepen customer engagement.
"Infosys leverages our extensive experience in modernising core IT systems, optimising mainframe applications to be cloud smart along with our extensive retail domain experience," Mysore said.
Last year, the retailer engaged in the AWS Cloud Guild training and enablement program, internally to help 1400 Kmart and Target employees gain AWS training and certification.
“We’ve seen a huge increase on the speed of decision-making and having our team educated, specifically on cloud technologies - has made it easier to have conversations,” he said.
The program, dubbed Spark, was designed to give Kmart employees the necessary skills to innovate with cloud, artificial intelligence, and machine learning technology. It is set to help the retailer predict buying patterns in each of its stores, avoiding out-of-stock situations and allowing items to be rerouted.
At the time, Kmart anticipated the training will enable staff to design, deploy and operate infrastructure and applications on AWS, resulting in the faster delivery of solutions to ease and improve the customer experience.