- Three-digit increase in online sales in 2020, compared to the previous year
- Centralized management enables automation, faster delivery of processes, 3x increase in performance, and time savings for the IT infrastructure team
- High availability means a very stable environment, bringing trust and confidence to consumers
- Pre-failure alerting negates risk of downtime
- Access to new technology features with no additional investment.
C&A is focused on bringing the future of fashion to consumers across Brazil. Supported by Nutanix Hyperconvergence Infrastructure (HCI), the retail giant has overcome pandemic challenges to increase e-commerce sales by three digits, build trust and confidence by maintaining high availability, and enable 3x improved performance via centralized management.
With almost 300 stores and around 15,000 team members, C&A is a Brazilian retail giant bringing quality and value to shoppers across the country. As one of Brazil’s largest department store chains, the company has built a reputation over more than 40 years of accessible, fashion-forward innovation and strong partnerships with famous brands.
C&A’s goal is to be a visionary in the world of fashion tech. To achieve this, they are heavily focused on developing an omni-channel strategy that connects their e-commerce platforms with physical stores to create a seamless customer experience for shoppers.
“We’re going through a transformation and technology is a strong ally in the process,” explained Renan Cezário, IT Infrastructure Manager at C&A. “For our customers, we want to generate the same experience online as the one that we offer in our physical stores. One of the pillars to make this process a success is technology that keeps us totally connected.”
As Cezário sees it, their greatest challenge—especially in the face of a global pandemic which led to the temporary closure of all their physical stores—was to grow their e-commerce environment.
“We were experiencing the challenge of changing the company,” he said. “E-commerce is critical to the customer experience. Our website experience must be totally connected to the experience that we offer in the physical store. So what C&A was looking for is the latest technology to help us reach this goal.”
As a visionary in the implementation of hyperconvergence, C&A was one of the first companies in Brazil to use Nutanix. This partnership began in 2014, when the retailer wanted to adopt virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) in stores and invested in hyperconvergence to support the project.
“Our team is responsible for the infrastructure and service delivery layer for C&A as a whole,” Cezário explained. “We had two issues. The first was performance, and the second was the issue of consolidating the data center and growing from the investments we have made, using the new technology available to us in the best way possible.”
“We started a desktop virtualization project in stores and we were looking for an infrastructure to support this environment. In the first months we put several applications running on Nutanix, as we had a very good experience and we have already implemented this environment in high availability in our data centers,” said Cezário.
“We needed 2 clusters to support high availability between data centers, because this VDI solution would support a mission critical environment,” he continued. “We chose Nutanix because we saw we could greatly optimize performance and storage.”
Today, all applications run on two Nutanix clusters with six nodes each, three of which are only for critical services. In addition, they created a third cluster, with four nodes, implemented as a backup in a disaster recovery (DR) plan.
Enhanced scalability and agility
The success of C&A’s infrastructure consolidation and modernization strategy supported the increase in online sales by three digits in 2020, compared to the previous year—and one of the key pillars supporting this has been hyperconvergence from Nutanix.
“We spent a few months with all of our stores closed. Thankfully, we already had a way to reinvent some processes, and our technology definitely accelerated it,” Cezário explained.
According to Cezário, the company is investing greatly in e-commerce and Nutanix has helped a lot in the automation process, facilitating the development of coding in terms of agility.
To achieve success, Cezário believes connectivity between teams and systems is key. “We need to be connected to everything to generate innovations that bring agility to our infrastructure team, so we can serve the business teams to bring new services to market. Nutanix brings a lot of this stability, and has enabled us to evolve as an infrastructure team and to take the next steps that we were looking for.”
He explains further how Nutanix has helped: “Prism is the centralized system that manages everything—network, storage, and updates—in one single platform, in one single console. Before, we had to manage the update of the Storage, SAN and Servers. Today, we can do it in a centralized way and it’s even homologated by Nutanix itself. So the process becomes much more transparent and less stressful for our team.”
After the initial adoption of HCI in 2014, Cezário and his team of over 20 IT professionals have learned that Nutanix continues to support them as business needs change. “At the time of implementation, being quite honest, there was nothing else that could compare. Nutanix was very ahead in technology and continuity, something we searched very hard for,” he explained.
Cezário has seen how Nutanix HCI can also save his team time. “By working in this centralized way, we’ve been able to optimize infrastructure administration so our teams have more time to focus on what we need to evolve as technology and business needs change.”
Faster delivery of processes
In a fast-changing situation, it was important that C&A’s infrastructure management didn’t hold them back. “Nutanix brings the agility to grow, to scale, to optimize our resources. So when we have the demand for a new service or process, the Nutanix equalized environment means we can work on these deliveries in a very agile way,” Cezário explained.
“Because Nutanix is totally connected, it greatly speeds up the delivery processes our IT team creates for the business.”
Now everything is running on the Nutanix software platform, Cezário and his team have seen significant performance improvements. “Modules like analytics, database services, basically all applications run on Nutanix. The balancing is done in an automated way, in addition to the advantage of technology, which is also connected to our financial sector. That way, I can have visibility of the applications and deliver the necessary performance according to what each application needs,” he explained. “Our workloads are now performing 3 times better in terms of response time than before.”
Downtime could not only impact C&A financially but could be damaging to the customer experience, affecting the perception of the brand as a whole. Cezário has seen a reduction in availability issues since implementing Nutanix.
“Since the beginning of our relationship, I believe we have only had 3 incidents. And these were all proactive incidents, meaning that C&A was alerted to a possible disk failure and Nutanix acted proactively to resolve the issue—without having any impact on the environment. We were still able to operate throughout, and that’s something we’re very proud of,” he explained.
“We were able to create a design within our data center that’s prepared for high availability. Nutanix can support this and the coverage allows you to have several clusters that replicate without the need for anything else,” he continued. “Our very stable environment helps us bring trust and confidence to our business and our customers.”
Proactive problem solving
Nutanix has also provided reassurance and resilience to critical businesses systems, according to Cezário. “I remember an instance where Nutanix alerted us to a pre-failure. They contacted us before we even knew there was a problem. And before any impact on the environment, we had already worked together with Nutanix to resolve the issue. It was a very good experience.”
Seamless access to new features
Thanks to Nutanix’s subscription model, Cezário and his team can enjoy the benefits of new features with no additional investment. “Normally when you acquire a new technology, you pay when you sign up and then you end up having to invest again in something you acquired some years ago,” he explained.
“With the subscription model, every time we talk with the Nutanix team they tell us about a new feature that’s coming out. We discover that we have new technological possibilities for the same investment that was made. We’re building a closer and closer relationship with Nutanix and we’re benefiting from all these new features. This has helped us a lot on our journey throughout the years.”
Cezário also enjoys the benefits of Nutanix’s ongoing training options. “The online training was a very good experience to get to know the product and the technology via the Nutanix portal. This impressed me even more because it was something that we didn’t have to invest in, it was there and available to us at no additional cost.”
A technology partnership that supports C&A’s vision for the future
For Cezário, Nutanix’s support of their critical services gives him a lot of confidence in their partnership moving forward. “We’re focused on innovation and on searching out new technologies that will provide a better experience for our customers, while aligning with our financial goals,” he said.
“During these last 6 years that we have been running Nutanix, we have never had a critical incident and the stability has added a lot of confidence in the product. Since the beginning, Nutanix has proved to be a company that builds close relationships with their customers, understands their challenges, and proposes innovations. Their support helps a lot in our decision making.”
As a leader in fashion tech, C&A is looking firmly to the future. Currently, the retailer plans to migrate its four-node cluster (referring to the disaster recovery project) to the cloud, with Nutanix's HCI solutions in public cloud providers. This is because by moving the DR workload to the cloud, the retailer can add the existing nodes to the production cluster.
“Today we are working very hard with the hybrid cloud structure, looking at the integration of containers and running hybridly on external clouds. We are also analyzing the container management strategy and multicloud view,” Cezário noted.
His goal is to have the third cloud data center running on-premise, using all the resources and flexibility of Nutanix. “This project will deepen our partnership with Nutanix, because this is something that has been growing exponentially within the C&A environment. This good relationship helps us to both grow the technology and also grow as a company.”
Cezário concludes: “Over the years, Nutanix has become totally critical to us. We originally implemented hyperconvergence to help us in delivering virtual desktops to our associates, but in a short period of time it evolved to be a great part of our data center structure, supporting all of the critical services we deliver. We know Nutanix is totally connected with our process both now and for the future, and we know they’re a partner who will walk with us on our journey there.”