SADA leads Northgate Market’s complete digital transformation to Google Cloud

By SADA Says | Cloud Computing Blog

From humble beginnings of converting a small liquor store into a grocery market in 1980, a Mexican immigrant family turned their dream into an American success story. Forty years later, with 41 locations, over 6,000 people on payroll and annual sales of more than $1 billion, Northgate Market is a leading ethnic grocery chain in southern California.

“We are constantly excited at the community’s overwhelming response and welcome each time we open a new store,” said Miguel González, Co-President. “Our business goal has always been to expand our grocery brand into key markets and provide opportunities to offer local consumers a fresh, new, exciting shopping experience with customer service that exceeds everyone’s expectations.”

The company offers its customers a full-service supermarket with a large meat department, bakery, tortilleria, fresh produce, and authentic prepared foods. The stores include an impressive section of domestic and imported Latin American grocery goods to provide a Mexican homeland experience. 

Business challenge

Over the past several years, Northgate had increased investments in its infrastructure hardware systems and its on-premises and colocation data centers. It also leveraged AWS for many applications. As the older on-premises infrastructure had run its course and was no longer able to support the company’s ever-maturing digital needs, Northgate had a decision to make.

“We performed a thorough analysis and presented the current risk and challenge of hardware obsolescence to Senior Management. We articulated that with this obsolescence, It wasn’t a matter of if our Infrastructure was going to fail, it was a matter of when,” said Kevin Kreucher, Director of Infrastructure. “Since this equipment had reached end of life, we had to explore options for replacement. We entertained several options that included on-premise hardware replacement, Hyperconverged Infrastructure, Hybrid Cloud and Cloud Only. We decided to be bold and go all in with an innovative and completely digital transformation.”

Northgate decided to move everything to the cloud and launched an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) initiative with plans to migrate all of its servers from on-premises and from AWS to Google Cloud Platform (GCP). “It’s one thing to take a set of eight or 10 servers and migrate to the cloud and have everybody high-five, but to decommission two data centers and move 430 servers to the cloud is no small feat.”

Partnership & solution

Northgate had previously partnered with SADA to migrate approximately eight years’ worth of transactions from legacy systems into a new Data Lake and utilize BigQuery, Google Cloud’s fully-managed, serverless data warehouse designed to help turn big data into informed business decisions. With this engagement, Northgate tapped SADA’s expertise to add value to its infrastructure landscape by eliminating its on-premises data centers and provisioning a standardized and scalable environment.

Northgate and SADA identified GCP as the next-generation infrastructure solution to host all of Northgate Market’s applications because of its flexibility, analytics and big data capabilities. The command that GCP provides over the control of VMs, along with the ability for live migrations, would allow moving enterprise solutions to the cloud with minimal downtime.

“SADA was unbelievably supportive in helping us drive change and push the project forward. We built out a process where we identified the servers, got the business units involved, tested a variety of scenarios, executed the lift and shift, let it bake and evaluate.”

Kevin Kreucher, Director of Infrastructure, Northgate Market

For nearly one year, Kreucher and his team moved through and turned down nearly 430 servers. The long pole in the tent and most critical set of servers was Northgate’s Warehouse Management System. This critical business system had a long history of issues and the IT team wanted to be sure to limit any negative impact should something go wrong.

Results

“The proof is in the pudding. The quantity & frequency of issues before the migration versus afterwards, if nothing else, speaks for itself” said Kreucher.

“We still have the same operating system and same applications and versions, but just moving them from on-premises and migrating to GGP is a night and day difference as far as stability is concerned. Then, add load balancing, high availability, multi-region, flexibility and the benefits continue to mount.”

Kevin Kreucher, Director of Infrastructure, Northgate Market

Northgate succeeded in closing its primary data center in Mesa, AZ, its secondary redundant data center in Anaheim, CA, and essentially turned the corporate office and each of the stores into network-connected nodes to services that are in the cloud. Northgate leverages SD-WANs provided by VMware that have been deployed at each location. “With VeloCloud Virtual Edge, we created connections, via the internet, between our nodes and Google where all of our critical systems are and do it in a way that’s redundant,” said Kreucher.

“SADA has been riding side by side as a strategic partner with us for committed use discounts (CUDs) and licensing to help us to continue to shave costs. We anticipate more than $300,000 in annual savings with this completed migration project,” he added. 

 SADA enabled Northgate Market to:

  • Create a cloud environment by replacing on-premises data centers and migrating to GCP
  • Increase flexibility and standardize data infrastructure
  • Reduce infrastructure costs by an estimated $300,000+ annually
  • Migrate years’ worth of transactions from legacy systems into the data lake
  • Glean actionable business intelligence that has helped them better meet customer needs
  • Partner with Google and VMware to deploy VeloCloud Virtual Edge

“For me, it’s been a once in a lifetime opportunity. At the end of the day, it has been an unbelievably rewarding experience. Now that we have completely moved to the cloud, I can look back and say if I had a chance to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. SADA is an amazing strategic partner. Wherever we turned and whatever we were working on, SADA was there to support us 100%.” 

Kevin Kreucher, Director of Infrastructure, Northgate Market
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