Save A Lot embarks on major IT upgrade

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Amid a shift to a wholesale model and a store upgrade program, discount grocer Save A Lot has tapped Hewlett-Packard’s Aruba wireless networking arm to modernize its IT infrastructure.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Aruba said Tuesday that Save A Lot aims to enable cloud- and mobile-first environments across its enterprise by deploying an Aruba Edge Services Platform (ESP) network at its St. Louis headquarters, 13 distribution centers and approximately 1,000 retail stores in 32 states.

Related: Save A Lot ramps up its store redesign plans

Plans call for Save A Lot to complete the first phase of the Aruba ESP rollout — including its headquarters, seven DCs and St. Louis-based corporate-run stores — by the end of October. Phase two will see the grocer connect its six other DCs and deploy the technology to its licensed retail partners for the remaining stores.

According to Jennifer Hopper, chief information officer at Save A Lot, a major IT upgrade is key to the company’s business transformation. The adoption of Aruba’s platform is expected to bring more secure and reliable connectivity at DCs, where Save A Lot product selectors were hindered by a slow, inefficient network, as well as ensure that the company’s new headquarters — supporting over 1,000 users and their devices — becomes a collaborative, mobile-first worksite.

Related: Save A Lot shifts to wholesale model

“We believe Aruba will be a critical unlock for our IT infrastructure and are thrilled to be working with the team to implement a broad range of solutions designed to help us maximize productivity in all of our facilities,” Hopper said in a statement. “Whether in our distribution centers, home office or our stores, empowering our team members with fast and frictionless network access is a top priority. I’m confident Aruba will help us deliver an outstanding experience that will help us further accelerate our transformation.”

At Save A Lot stores, the Aruba cloud-based platform will enable expanded use of mobile devices, IoT devices, and new technologies and applications.

Save A Lot is implementing the Aruba ESP suite as a managed service from partner AT&T. The solution includes Aruba access switches, Wi-Fi 6 access points and mobility controllers plus ClearPass Policy Manager for full wired and wireless network access control and Aruba Central for cloud-based management. Aruba said AT&T will provide Save A Lot with site surveys, structured cabling, installation and Aruba ESP management. The surveys gather environmental data such as cable distances, MDF/IDF locations, pictures, RF noise floor, competing Wi-Fi networks and other outside interference to optimize coverage. Also with the service, Save A Lot will be able to leverage Internet of Things (IoT) devices across the Wi-Fi platform.

Hopper cited ClearPass as among the centralized management capabilities of the Aruba platform. In addition, Aruba Central provides a “single pane of glass” for management of the unified infrastructure, Zero Touch Provisioning for easier configuration and maintenance, and APIs for critical integrations, such as with ServiceNow and Splunk, Aruba reported.

“ClearPass is foundational to our network security strategy going forward. It ties together different technologies in our ecosystem to provide a secure and reliable network experience for our users,” Hopper explained. “With ClearPass, we’re able to create a Zero Trust environment and embrace capabilities like dynamic segmentation that are crucial for our varied distribution centers, retail stores and office environments, ensuring that all users and devices can be securely onboarded to the network.”

At Save A Lot’s headquarters, the mobile-first capability powered by Aruba ESP will enable employees to use smart conference rooms and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams to conduct business. Leaders also will be able to regularly use video broadcasts to communicate with DC and store personnel and provide business updates.

Save A Lot, too, will be able to support more users and devices at faster speeds and with improved reliability. According to Hopper, the Aruba platform will allow an employee to take a Microsoft Teams call and walk from one side of the building to the other without the call dropping off. “We’re excited about the integration between Aruba and Microsoft, which makes collaboration seamless and reliable for our users,” she added.

The Save A Lot retail stores stand to benefit from the stronger connectivity as well, Aruba said. For example, the Aruba Central cloud-based platform can manage all aspects of the network, enabling the expansion of mobile devices, new technologies and applications, and IoT devices.

Save A Lot’s project with Aruba is well-timed. Last week, the grocer unveiled plans to remodel a third of its store base in 2021 and upgrade the rest of the stores by 2024. In December, Save A Lot announced it was transitioning to a wholesale business model, move that will entail the sale of more than 300 corporate-operated stores to current and new retail partners. At the time, the company had 14 distribution centers and more than 1,000 stores in 33 states, with the vast majority of the locations licensed by over 200 independent grocers. Plans call for Save A Lot to retain 21 corporate-operated stores in St. Louis to serve as innovation testing grounds for retail partners.

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