Colruyt Group Services Lowers Total Cost of Ownership of its ICT Infrastructure with Red Hat Enterprise Linux

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December 13, 2011

Customer: Colruyt Group Services

Geography: EMEA
Country: Belgium

Business Challenge:

To reduce the licensing, support, and maintenance costs of its proprietary hardware and operating system implementations

Migration Path:

HP-UX to Red Hat Enterprise Linux


Colruyt Group Services replaced its technology infrastructure of two HP-UX servers in each of its sales outlets with a single Red Hat Enterprise Linux system


Red Hat Enterprise Linux, HP OpenView


One Intel server in each store


Lowered costs for hardware, consumption, maintenance, and management; achieved a ten-fold saving on hardware and 75 percent savings on operating system costs; increased stability


Colruyt Group encompasses a large number of retail businesses throughout Europe. In addition to the sales outlets of Colruyt itself, the group’s additional trading names include DreamLand, DreamBaby, OKay, Bio-Planet, and the DATS 24 filling stations. In total, the Colruyt Group employs over 20,000 staff in Belgium, France, and Luxembourg. The Group is built on the founding principles of simplicity and efficiency and strives to achieve sustainable growth through its no-nonsense corporate culture. As part of Colruyt Group Services, the business processes and systems division provides information and communication technology (ICT) services to all Colruyt Group companies. The group’s ICT activities are run from three locations in Belgium, with approximately 1,000 staff and one location in India with approximately 200 staff.

Business Challenge:

Ten years ago, the group’s ICT division designed a new technology environment for its sales outlet operations. Each store had to be capable of running the FVS 2000 sales application autonomously. To make this possible, Colruyt implemented two HP servers at each outlet with HP-UX as the enterprise operating system. However, due to significant growth within the company and the number of stores rapidly increasing from 100 to 400 in a 10 year time frame, Colruyt faced increased pressures to reduce its total IT spend.

“We installed two servers in every store, complete with proprietary hardware and operating systems,” said Robert Groenemans, team manager, Colruyt Group Services. “As a result, our ICT costs were relatively high. We had to reduce our CAPEX for hardware and operating systems in order to maintain our ethos of low cost delivery to our customers.”

Colruyt migrated from HP-1000 to HP-UX and then to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

“With Red Hat Enterprise Linux, we were able to asses our open source options and select the most appropriate option from the various hardware providers in the Intel market,” said Eric Seynaeve, Linux system engineer at Colruyt Group Services. “At the same time, the move to Red Hat was logical, as the team had an extensive background of working with UNIX, which provided a knowledge baseline for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux deployment.”


In each of its stores, Colruyt replaced two UNIX servers with a single Intel server. As the company could not afford to make stability concessions, the Intel hardware was developed to be fully redundant in each server. Each store also adopted an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system, and the company selected HP OpenView to monitor its ICT infrastructure. As a result, Colruyt has very little downtime in its stores.

Colruyt Group Services also decided to replace approximately 40 HP-UX servers in the central ICT infrastructure with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This particular migration was significantly more complex, because it involved a whole range of applications, including Oracle, PeopleSoft, OpenView, and the data warehouse.

In the meantime, virtually all HP-UX servers have been migrated to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Again, cutting costs was the main project driver for Colruyt. Within five years, the company’s cost target was achieved. In fact, the annual cost for the maintenance contract of a single HP 9000 server was higher than it was to buy a new Intel server, including four years of maintenance.


The financial incentive for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux migration was so transparent to Colruyt that the management team immediately approved the project. Red Hat Enterprise Linux fits with Colruyt’s guiding principles of simplicity and efficiency. In order to have the lowest prices in-store, you must provide the lowest prices behind the scenes. As a result of migrating to Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Intel servers, Colruyt has been able to reduce its hardware costs ten-fold.

In addition, the switch from HP-UX to Red Hat Enterprise Linux took place without any significant problems for staff at Colruyt Group Services. At the same time, Colruyt took advantage of the migration to automate as many manual tasks as possible. Extra attention was required to ensure that the transfer of data files between the various environments went smoothly. Where necessary, Colruyt was able to call upon Red Hat support directly. In the meantime, Colruyt has also shared best practice with users within the Red Hat Enterprise User Group.

“We wanted to avoid having to carry out a manual migration in all 400 of our outlets. And we developed the vast majority of that automation in-house. All we pay for now is a subscription, which means that the costs for the operating systems are a quarter of what they were previously,” said Seynaeve.

Colruyt’s use of Red Hat Enterprise Linux is continuing to expand, as the company is creating a plan to incorporate the solution in its future social media initiatives. In addition, the company’s migration to Red Hat Enterprise Linux is just the starting point for this project, and the company is looking forward to expanding its Red Hat solution portfolio.

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