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Opening new routes to the cloud for retailers

Schwarz Group launches STACKIT with MongoDB to provide an alternative to hyperscalers.

image of a woman working on a tablet

INDUSTRY

Retail
Wholesale
Manufacturing
Cloud Services

PRODUCT

Enterprise
Advanced

USE CASE

Supports Cloud Platform

CUSTOMER SINCE

2017
INTRODUCTION

Modernizing critical infrastructure across the enterprise

The Schwarz Group is Europe’s largest retail company. It owns supermarket chains Lidl and Kaufland, a food production company called Schwarz Produktion, and PreZero, which provides environmental services. The company has 13,450 locations across 32 countries, all relying on its internal IT company, “Schwarz IT”, to keep systems running smoothly every day.

“Schwarz IT is the digital heartbeat of the Schwarz Group. It employs around 4,000 people who manage a vast range of digital infrastructure and software solutions for 550,000 users. We have more than 23,000 servers across data centers in Germany and Austria, 30 petabytes of data, 1.4 million network ports, and one of the largest SAP retail systems in the world,” explains Richard Siekmann, Domain Product Owner at STACKIT.

With operations spanning the entire value chain in the food industry—from production and distribution to recycling raw materials—collaboration and coordination between departments needs to be seamless. This relies on data being accessible, comprehensive, and actionable as the Group’s estate becomes increasingly complex.

In addition to managing the existing infrastructure, Schwarz IT is invested in developing modern solutions for data analytics and leveraging automation and machine learning to optimize operations. As Siekmann reveals, “Digitalization is not the end goal for us. We understand that our business runs on digital solutions and needs to be continuously adapted as our needs evolve. We therefore develop solutions in-house to make life easier for our colleagues, and we want to make our knowledge and tools available for other companies.”

Man pointing to a whiteboard in a team meeting.

Schwarz IT develops solutions in-house to make life easier

THE CHALLENGE

Helping customers move to cloud on their own terms

Achieving its goal of keeping the Schwarz Group future-ready and ahead of the competition requires a dynamic and flexible cloud infrastructure. In 2018, the company launched STACKIT, a cloud platform that provides scalable and secure services to Group companies.

STACKIT is hosted in the Schwarz Group’s data centers and complies with European data protection standards. It started as a platform that enables the IT team to better serve its own companies, but it soon became clear that it was a service that could be useful to other companies as well. The Schwarz Group now offers these reliable cloud services that guarantee secure and stable digital applications to external customers, opening a new revenue stream.

“We launched STACKIT to customers in March 2022 to provide an alternative route to the cloud. Everyone wants to know where their data is stored. With STACKIT, we’re not just offering cloud services to help customers succeed and grow their business, we can also offer assurance that data is stored in Germany under EU regulations. That means companies don’t have to use a hyperscaler and worry about US laws,” explained Jürgen Gremminger, Product Owner at of STACKIT MongoDB, Schwarz Group.

To support use cases such as their Lidl automatic goods ordering (auto-dispo) project, STACKIT needed a NoSQL database that could handle more than 100 gigabytes of data every day, connect 500 data sources, and manage read and write peaks. At Lidl branches and warehouses, auto-dispo software will be used to increase efficiency along the supply chain when placing orders, which was challenging due to complex data structures and the enormous volume of data to be processed.

The database also needed the ability to function without having access to internal systems or requiring data to reside on its own servers. This was vital to preserve STACKIT’s guarantee that customer data remains under EU jurisdiction and is not impacted by the American Cloud Act, for example.

"MongoDB is the most popular NoSQL database because of its great performance and scalability. It enables us to provide customers with a flexible, modern, and future-proof database."

Richard Siekmann, Domain Product Owner at STACKIT

THE SOLUTION

High performance and great scalability

To meet these requirements the team implemented MongoDB, which is also available as a service on the STACKIT cloud called STACKIT MongoDB. This cross-platform, document-oriented database management system enables both internal and external customers to store and manage their data quickly and easily. Although data can be nested in complex hierarchies, it’s always available for queries and indexing.

“MongoDB is the world’s most popular NoSQL database because of its great performance and scalability. We were looking to adopt the best technology the market had to offer for us and for our customers,” says Siekmann. “It’s a good fit because it enables us to provide customers with a flexible, modern and future-proof database without any rigid schema rules.”

This significantly reduces the effort and complexity required to store and manage data previously, which is especially valuable to enterprise customers with data siloed across legacy systems. While STACKIT MongoDB is a versatile offering that supports many different use cases, it’s proving particularly popular among developers, and can be deployed in just a few minutes.

As for the auto-dispo use case, Siekmann reveals: “STACKIT MongoDB provides independence and stability during deployment thanks to its NoSQL structure. Simple and agile container deployments, rollouts and rollbacks are also possible with historizing the table schemas.”

“With MongoDB, we’re creating opportunities for real people to progress their career as we accelerate our own cloud strategy and help customers to do the same.”

Richard Siekmann, Domain Product Owner at STACKIT

THE RESULTS

Unlocking new revenue streams and in-house efficiency

With MongoDB, STACKIT has a cloud-native solution that’s flexible and easy to use. It accelerates deployments and makes it simple to deactivate services that are no longer needed. The company can also protect its USP of providing customers in Europe with a viable alternative to hyperscalers that ensures data residency within the EU.

It’s also helping to drive efficiencies in-house, while providing greater visibility into where resources and budgets are allocated.

“The scalability of cloud makes it very tempting, which means there’s a risk of migrating suboptimal processes and running up costs,” adds Andreas Wolf, Team Lead for the Lidl auto-dispo. “STACKIT MongoDB gives us transparent costs to the minute. I can see exactly where we’re spending our budget, which means I can better monitor cost-performance across Lidl.”

Being at the cutting edge of innovation helps Schwarz IT to attract and retain more talent—although STACKIT still retains its startup atmosphere and flat hierarchy.

“MongoDB is the most popular NoSQL database because of its great performance and scalability. It enables us to provide customers with a flexible, modern, and future-proof database.”

Richard Siekmann, Domain Product Owner at STACKIT

“With MongoDB, we’re creating opportunities for real people to progress their career as we accelerate our own cloud strategy and help customers to do the same.”

Richard Siekmann, Domain Product Owner at STACKIT

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