Carphone Warehouse
Carphone Warehouse

Carphone Warehouse

Since trading began in 1989, The Carphone Warehouse Group PLC has achieved phenomenal growth by focusing on customer service and providing an infrastructure that is unrivalled.

Their aggressive expansion plans have made them the largest independent retailer of mobile communications in Europe. They are now in 12 countries and have over 1,085 stores. Their continued success lies in their ability to offer customers consistently simple, impartial advice on everything to do with mobile communications.

Logistics Centre

The business is divided into three segments, distribution, comprising retail, online, wholesale and insurance; Telecoms Services, comprising on-going airtime revenues, the facilities management business and the MVNO, Fresh; Data Services, comprising and encompassing mobile services and products.

A key part of the Carphone Warehouse Group is the Logistics Centre at Wednesbury in the West Midlands. The Wednesbury site was acquired when the Group took over Tandy in 1999 and it now handles all warehousing and deliveries to the 500 UK stores and has a large Repair Centre, repairing phones for Carphone Warehouse customers.

An IBM AS/400 720 computer with 2GB of memory and 134GB of RAID protected disks, controls all aspects of the warehouse and distribution system. The software running on it, under OS/400 4.3, is a JDA Merchandise Management System, originally bought by Tandy in 1995.

As the company grew and disk utilisation levels soared, Nigel Passmore, IT Manager at Carphone Warehouse, Wednesbury, watched with dismay as the level started to exceed the 80% level recommended by IBM.

“We were frequently getting to the 95% level where the performance of the AS/400 was seriously affected and twice we reached 100% at which point the system reset itself with disastrous consequences. The whole department seemed to be spending all of our time trying manually to keep disk space free and dealing with disk problems, really panicking when the level reached 99%.” recalled Passmore.

MaxMastermind “Eventually we invested in maxMastermind and this allowed us to analyse disk space and highlight wasted space. Previously we were unable to reorganise disk space during the day while the machine was running, but with maxMastermind we are able to run reports at any time, allowing us to free up disk space. We can look at individual fi les with spare space and automatically reorganise the files.”

“The software lets us set limits on the size of fi les, it lists fi les in descending size order and, when disk utilisation gets to 90% it automatically increases the space available. maxMastermind has helped us to set up a schedule of disk clear downs and, because we only have to keep 3 years of history, we can do weekly, monthly and yearly clear downs of the data.”

maxMastermind has proved invaluable in many circumstances and I wouldn’t want to be without it. Nigel Passmore, IT Manager

“We have just installed version 6.3 of maxMastermind and the system is currently running at 63% capacity, which lets me sleep better at night. The clear down routines have saved us 15% of the disk space and have helped to identify potential problem areas.”

Problem Solved

Carphone Warehouse also uses the maxMessenger and maxAlarm modules from Maximise’s suite of System Management tools. maxMessenger monitors the AS/400 for any messages and fi lters for important messages, enabling staff to take action before it becomes a problem. The maxAlarm module sends pager-type messages to mobile phones.

According to Nigel Passmore, “maxAlarm monitors the system while we are not there and usually solves any problems before we even know there is one. I now get a message on my mobile if the system gets to 65% of capacity.”

Special Features

Using the Disk Management features of maxMastermind a user can drastically reduce the time taken to manage objects and libraries. There are a large number of features that will aid with every stage of Disk Management. maxMastermind provides information that will automatically manage file sizes and deleted records, list objects that have been missed by normal back up routines, include functions to locate redundant and un-used objects and even locate any objects across a network of iSeries machines.

There are also a large number of pre-defi ned reports that can be produced for auditing and information purposes e.g. multi machine library comparison report and save fi le space occupancy. maxMastermind stores complete object level history therefore reducing the time and cost of computer audits. The user can also verify that change control procedures are being adhered to by using maxMastermind’s high-level automatic inquiries and reports.

Management of valuable resources is one of the essential responsibilities of all IT departments. With all the tools shipped with maxMastermind any unnecessary purchase of extra disk or larger AS/400s can be avoided. Human resource management can also be improved by making sure that skilled personnel are available to carry out other essential tasks.

Realised Benefit

  • Limits set on all file sizes
  • Disk space automatically made available when reaching 90% threshold
  • Schedule of disk clear downs on weekly, monthly or yearly basis
  • Clear down routine has saved 15% of disk space with potential problem areas identified quickly
  • In conjunction with maxAlarm, threshold notification by Mobile Phone allows IT Manager to sleep at night
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