Loblaw pulls off major IT migration with Oracle

Canada’s biggest grocer moves on-premises SAP database—touching most parts of its business—to a cloud-based infrastructure.
Loblaw HQ building-front_Shutterstock
Loblaw now operates of the world’s largest single-instance SAP databases, according to Oracle. / Photo: Shutterstock

Loblaw Cos. has achieved a global distinction in enterprise software thanks to database and cloud computing giant Oracle.

Canada’s largest food and drug retailer has migrated its SAP systems to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). With the move, the Brampton, Ontario-based grocer now runs one of the world’s largest single-instance SAP databases—more than 180 terabytes—to manage nearly every piece of its business, from retail price tags to financials, Oracle reported.

“It was extremely important for us to minimize risk during the move to the cloud. The SAP database had to operate correctly after the migration to safeguard the success of our businesses,” David Markwell, chief technology and analytics officer at Loblaw, said in a statement. “OCI had the proven experience of running databases at this scale in the cloud which made them the right choice for this work.”

As Loblaw’s operations become more diverse amid its expansion, the retailer required an IT infrastructure that could efficiently scale, Austin, Texas-based Oracle said. Earlier this year, Loblaw had migrated its SAP database to Oracle Exadata Database Service on OCI.

The project of moving Loblaw’s on-premises database footprint to OCI was no small task. Loblaw runs a retail network of 2,442 stores—including 561 corporate-owned supermarkets under multiple banners, 543 franchised grocery stores and 1,338 Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix associate-owned drugstores—and generates some 2 billion transactions annually with its food, pharmacy, beauty, apparel, and financial services offerings.

The company, too, boasts one of Canada’s biggest consumer loyalty programs in PC Optimum, which has almost 16 million active members.

“The real validation came when our post-migration tests showed a 35% increase in performance in key SAP transactions,” according to Markwell. “The results speak for themselves.” 

Oracle Customer Success Services (CSS), which includes a team of SAP-certified engineers, played a pivotal role in setting up the database and enabling a successful migration to OCI in compliance with SAP’s support requirements, Oracle noted.

“Helping Loblaw move a database of that size and importance to the cloud was more than a standard cloud ‘lift and shift’ operation—it was a ‘lift and shine,’” explained Karan Batta, senior vice president of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

Plans call for Oracle CSS to provide ongoing support services to help maintain the database’s operating environment, Oracle added. Also, working with IT services and consulting firm Accenture, Loblaw was able to update its applications and optimize them to run in the cloud.

“Working closely with our partners at Accenture, we were able to provide a world-class infrastructure to serve as a foundation for Loblaw’s operations now and into the future,” Batta stated. “OCI brings a unique ability to scale to run the biggest workloads our customers can throw at us. Our platform enables us to run massive workloads, including single-instance databases that are hundreds of terabytes in size.”



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