Enterprise Linux solutions provider SUSE has deployed a SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service solution to provide proactive management and total control of an extensive POS estate for Pick n Pay, one of South Africa’s largest retailers. 
Matthew Lee, regional manager for SUSE in South Africa, says the optimised Linux Platform and the SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 service pack 2 will improve performance, reliability and efficiency and maintain enterprise quality and application compatibility for Pick n Pay’s large retail network consisting of hypermarkets, supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores.
“The optimisation of the Linux platform allows Pick n Pay users to consolidate all of their applications into a single, highly reliable, Linux platform that is geared for physical and virtual mission-critical software solutions, including appliances.”
The IT team at Pick n Pay found that its existing point of service (POS) system was not delivering the high levels of flexibility, scalability and manageability required. The company was running one POS system for clothing stores and another for all other operations which further increased the complexity of managing its retail systems.
“Previously we were using a Linux-based operating system but it did not offer us the level of management we requires and it was not regularly maintained,” says Wesley Grisdale, business process owner of Point of Sale Infrastructure at Pick n Pay.
“We wanted to move to a version that had a more corporate approach to support and that offered better control over our retail systems.”
Pick n Pay felt it was crucial to select a POS solution that provided centralised management as the key aspect of its design, and believed that SUSE Linux Enterprise point of Service represented the best fit for its needs.
Lee says SUSE Linux Enterprise point of Service is designed specifically for retail environments and combines the operating system base of SUSE Linux Enterprise with extensions that facilitate the creation of a POS managed client solution.
“A typical architecture includes one central, directory-based administration server which manages all branch servers and stores the master operating system images. The branch servers provide the infrastructure for deploying these images to the POS terminals, which can be cash registers, self-service kiosks or even computerised petrol pumps.”
Martin Coetzee, technical director at at Marke Tech, says that with SUSE Linux Enteprise Point of Service, pick n Pay can create a central operating system image that is then deployed to its POS clients in the field.
“Before, they had to send out a dedicated IT administrator to manage OS rollouts and upgrades for individual branch servers. Now, everything is managed from a centralised point of control.”
Pick n Pay worked with Marke Tech Technology Group to design and implement SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service. The company is using the solution’s imaging suite to create and deploy client images for a wide variety of POS devices. A large number of customised POS images have been built with the help of the KIWI toolset.
So far, Pick n Pay has completed the roll-out of SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service at its 64 clothing stores and has begun deploying the solution at its supermarket branches, and standardised on SUSE Linux Enterprise by the end of 2012.
The Suze Linux Enterprise Point of Service provides Pick n Pay with a central, more accurate view of its entire IT estate, offering a guaranteed means of knowing exactly what version each terminal is running, which helps enormously with updates and maintenance.
Pick n Pay also benefits from improved management of its POS systems as a result of the platform’s centralised management system.
SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service offers a low total cost of ownership by eliminating licensing costs with Pick n Pay only paying a yearly subscription fee for maintenance and support services. As the software is not tied to a specific device, Pick n Pay can re-purpose existing hardware to run the application, eliminating the need for costly investment in new machines.
Pick n Pay has also been able to take advantage of the unique benefits of Linux, such as reduced hardware resource requirements, flexibility and open design, at the same time gaining the support and control offered by a maintained and enterprise-proven SUSE solution.