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Specsavers goes open source for mission-critical applications

By Retail Technology | Friday July 11 2014

Open source IT allows the optical retailer to speed up its IT processes in response to the demands of retail

Specsavers, the largest privately owned optical chain in the UK and Ireland, has standardised its IT environment on Red Hat to streamline its costs and make its business processes more efficient.

The retailer is using the open-source IT infrastructure as a platform to run mission-critical applications across 1,500 stores, its supply chain and its data centres in Guernsey, Denmark and Australia.

10 year migration

Over the last 10 years, Specsavers has migrated from a Sun Solaris environment to Red Hat. The servers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux support every store, the entire supply chain and several datacenters and make-up around 80% of the organisation’s global technology estate. 

It’s understood the retailer chose to standardise on the Red Hat open source platform as it delivered the cost-effectiveness, stability and reliability needed in retail.

“We are a global business and need our technology infrastructure to support the heavy-lifting demands of an extensive retail environment,” said Nigel Spain, head of technology  and innovation at Specsavers.  “If we are seeking new applications or platforms we need interoperability and open integration with other technology solutions.”

Specsavers says the open source environment will enable it to open new stores and refresh existing stores within budget and deliver on customer service requirements.


The business is run on a joint venture partnership basis. Each store acts as an independent business running store services and collecting customer data and order information. This model means the company needs its systems to remain agile.

Specsavers is now using Red Hat Enterprise Virtualisation, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat JBoss Middleware. JBoss Fuse powers the connectivity between the supply chain, the stores, and the head office data centre, integrating its applications, data, services and devices. 

The retailer has increased its virtual footprint from 60 to 130 sockets, following the purchase of a new Fujitsu blade server. It can now run hundreds of virtual machines per blade server.

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