Watson's Story

Watson’s can relax and have fun with IBM Power in the Cloud

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At a Glance

  • Aging IBM Power server with outdated back-up strategy
  • Small IT staff with limited IBM iSeries expertise
  • Busy retailer that needs IT to function smoothly 24/7

  • Seamlessly upgraded technology and transitioned to the cloud
  • Always-available IT expertise from the friendly Racksquared team
  • Proactive server monitoring to stay on top of any issues

Without the stress of an aging IBM Power server, the retailer can focus on helping its customers chill out at home.

An easy move to the cloud

Relaxing at home often involves a television and comfortable couch, but Watson’s takes relaxation to another level for its customers. With stores in six midwest states, the retailer outfits homes with patio furniture, pools, spas, fireplaces, arcade games, and more.

But even as Watson’s was helping customers trick out their homes, it needed to make some upgrades of its own. The company was renting colocation space for an aging IBM server and backing up to tape. If the server went down or experienced a hiccup, the retailer risked not being able to sell to a customer who was ready to buy a big-ticket item like a hot tub or foosball table. The thought of that was enough to raise the stress levels of the IT department.

To modernize their server, Watson’s looked into purchasing the latest IBM Power server, but it was about the same price as moving to the cloud with Racksquared. And going with Racksquared offered many benefits, starting with a seamless migration to the cloud. Racksquared made sure Watson’s could easily make the move on a Saturday night without its stores even noticing.

“To me, the migration was a non-event,” said Michelle Combs, Watson’s Programmer Analyst. “All the new networking, the new location — all of this happened over a weekend. I don’t think we experienced any downtime.”

“In retail, your POS system has to be up and running all the time. If it isn’t working, your customer may go elsewhere to make their purchase.”

- Michelle Combs,
  Watson's Programmer Analyst

Friendly experts ready to dive in

Watson’s quickly realized the luxury of relying on Racksquared’s technology expertise. The retailer has a small IT staff of two — Michelle as a programmer and another person focused on networking. They were never truly comfortable administering the company’s IBM iSeries server, and now they can sit back and let Racksquared manage this for them.

“Since we’ve gone with Racksquared, a lot of the stress level of my job has come down,” said Michelle. “It’s freed up a lot of the anxiety that I have because I don’t have to worry about that part of it anymore.”

Michelle said everyone at Racksquared has been very attentive and quick to respond when she has questions. “Sometimes I’ll have a question, and I’m not always really sure if it’s an appropriate question to ask tech support,” she said. “Never once have they said ‘we don’t want to answer that.’ I’m never uncomfortable asking them questions, even if I feel like it’s kind of remedial.”

Racksquared’s experts have an ability to put people at ease. “There have been times that we’ve had to work together and just had a nice conversation while we were waiting for an issue to be resolved,” said Michelle. It’s the work equivalent of sitting around the fire pit with friends.

Preventing problems early

Racksquared was also able to set up Watson’s with Halcyon monitoring services for IBM iSeries, which has made life easier for Michelle and her team. The service sends text alerts when something is awry. This allows Watson’s staff to know immediately when there’s an issue that might turn into a big problem. In the past, they might find out about such an issue hours later — after many other jobs were stalled.

“One worst case scenario is if this happens after hours, and I don’t know there’s an error until the morning. Then none of the night jobs would run, and I’d have to cancel everything out,” said Michelle. This situation can quickly escalate into a big problem if financial data becomes corrupted and throws off reporting. Sometimes it can take days to fix corrupted data.

It’s also a big problem if an issue takes down Watson’s point of sale systems, bringing sales to a halt. But with the Halcyon service, Watson’s receives a text alert right away when things aren’t running smoothly. Often, it’s just a simple fix that is needed, which in some cases is automated and can be taken care of before any damage is done.

“With Racksquared and the Halcyon monitoring services, I always know what’s going on, and that is absolutely amazing,” said Michelle.

Find out how Racksquared can help you kick back, relax and focus on what you do best.

Visit www.racksquared.com, contact us at sales@racksquared.com or call (855) 380-7225.