Leading UK digital fashion retailer

Delivering cloud enabled mainframe & improved disaster recovery

| minutes read

Key points

  • An imperative to deliver without disrupting the business
  • A ‘big and risky’ project delivered early and within budget
  • Biggest reduction in operational risk seen by the customer, delivering a huge step forward for the business
  • Collaborative effort involving diverse stakeholders, all with key roles to play, each bringing specialist technical competence and business knowledge
  • No adverse impact on system responsiveness despite a move from on premise to a new location.

The challenge

In the highly competitive retail sector where any IT outage can damage brand image, this leading UK digital fashion retailer sought to replace its existing on-premise mainframe solution to reduce operational risk, increase resilience and provide an assured disaster recovery capability. The mainframe supports business critical applications and the customer knew that moving to a cloud-based mainframe would offer the ability to switch almost instantly to alternative cloud capacity in the event of failure. The flexibility of cloud would also allow for peaks in requirements, while providing a platform able to accommodate future data, processing, storage and software needs. In effect, the customer wanted to future proof its mainframe provision with a cloud-based hosted solution.

Our solution

The retailer selected an IBM ‘zCloud’ solution, for which Sopra Steria designed the network approach and configuration. This provided the required level of security, access and resilience in a solution better able to withstand problems and which could be recovered at any stage to protect the company’s systems at all times. Our secure and robust network solution enabled the initial bulk transfer of mainframe data to zCloud, whilst providing the communication channels for subsequent operational processing. It also included mainframe configuration and storage changes to enable the zCloud transition, embracing new virtual storage processes to improve resilience and remove on-premise physical storage requirements. The key component, disaster recovery, was proven through testing, completing another successful solution milestone. Sopra Steria has since continued to deliver and manage the mainframe support service provided to the customer. Process changes were defined and introduced to bridge the service provision and hosting components, maintaining a focus on process simplicity and ensuring clarity of responsibilities.

How we work together

This was a highly collaborative project that saw Sopra Steria working closely with IBM and several other third parties. Recognising that cross-party communication and co-operation were going to be key.

Sopra Steria collaboratively:


  • defined and used a single detailed delivery plan
  • utilised a combined risk and issue management process
  • created an environment of shared technical teamwork


promoted an open management approach, where challenges were shared and resolved collaboratively.

Sopra Steria crafted and executed a ‘well oiled’ transition plan that was tested and tuned, validating the defined approach and providing confidence to all stakeholders that it would achieve the desired outcome. The retailer’s COO described the project as being “very well constructed, managed and delivered”. He added: “This is the biggest reduction of risk I think we have ever undertaken.”

The open and collaborative relationship was evidence of a true partnership, one focused on achieving the single goal of migrating the mainframe to meet the customer’s business objective. The value of the partnership was demonstrated in the effectiveness of the solution which ensured consistency of system latency despite the geographic change in location which took the mainframe from on-premise to the cloud. Sopra Steria’s service provision was seamless post the transition to zCloud and has subsequently successfully continued.

Results and benefits

The retailer’s business is increasingly online and the company has pursued a vision to be a digital first retailer for several years. The resilience of its IT systems is thus a strategic priority.

Robust data recovery (DR) is essential for this ambition and the Group Head of IT Service and Infrastructure, is delighted with what he describes as “our first true credible DR solution”. He added: “We’ve needed this for years to help protect our business and to now have a slick solution is amazing.”

This high profile, high risk project was delivered ‘on time’ and ‘right first time’. The headline benefits to the business included:


  • Reduced operational risk
  • A credible disaster recovery solution that protects the business
  • Flexibility to meet varying processing demand.


Sopra Steria’s collaborative transition of the client's back-end mainframe to the Cloud, has secured our future as a ‘digital first’ retailer. The team has achieved the IT equivalent of performing a heart transplant and worked incredibly well together throughout.

Group Head of IT Service & Infrastructure







Related content

Related contents

Applications portfolio project management benefits from best practice IT governance framework

Transforming IT project management with a focus on continuous improvement based on performance measurement and benchmarking.

Related contents

Keeping clients one step ahead – the DigiLab story (Part #2)

Digital transformation projects are often mission-critical, and therefore usually urgent. There’s a need to quickly unearth and interrogate challenges, sift the solution options and get things into test and development.