As one of the top grocery chains in the United States, with 21 brands spread across the country, and being considered an essential business during the pandemic, Albertsons knew it was time to transform its operations and focus on customer experience.
In their discussion at SpringOne 2021, Gaurav Jain, senior manager of container platform at Albertsons Companies, and VMware Advisory Platform Architect Anand Rao discussed Albertsons’ unique and transformative journey of migrating and modernizing business-critical applications and platforms to the cloud. They also cover the ways that Albertsons was able to quickly meet customer needs to shop online in response to COVID-19 restrictions. Here are a few quotes from Jain that highlight Albertsons’ journey to the cloud.
Driving forces of innovation
“With the onset of [the] pandemic, everyone chose to maybe be at home and use a mobile phone to order their groceries and have it delivered at their doorsteps…. we have been looking at how we can improve our infrastructure or how we are operating today as part of our business to serve [our] customers…. We have our on-prem systems like mainframe … and other critical systems which are running in our on-prem data centers.”
“It’s all about how we look into all these technology stacks and how we can migrate and modernize these legacy systems and leverage the benefits out of the cloud or cloud technologies … how we can modernize our stack and then also improve the customer experience, our store associates’ experience, and just help our customers at the end of the day.”
Application modernization and taking advantage of cloud technologies
“We started our first container platform more than five years back, which definitely helped us tremendously to improve our infrastructure and at least look at a different perspective on how we can modernize our technology stack.”
“Another important one is the applications. While we are replacing hardware or even leveraging cloud technologies, it's important we either rewrite or redo our applications in a way where it leverages the cloud technologies’ benefits… or use all the great features, which are at our disposal. And then of course making applications more resilient to things [that] can go wrong or how we can scale up in times of demand, especially [the] pandemic [that] tested us quite well last year. We were able to almost deliver [to] our customers without any major hiccups on our side. All thanks to the cloud, to the container platforms and, of course, adopting microservices was one of our biggest wins in this whole process.”
Jain later added:
“We started our journey on [Pivotal] Cloud Foundry [now VMware Tanzu Application Service] five years back and it has been one of the best decisions we have made in the cloud technology area. It has helped us tremendously last year.... And what happened on the onset of the pandemic, everyone was caught off guard and with the applications running in containers, well, it quickly was able to sustain all the traffic and we were able to deliver it to our customers.”
Achieving culture change through people and process
“While we are trying to transition to cloud technologies, we should not be forgetting our support staff. They are new to this as well. We've got to make sure we are training the existing support staff, and then we are ensuring they know how things are now going to work…. [At] the end of the day, we still need to make sure everyone is comfortable using these cloud technologies.”