In a comprehensive research note from Cowen & Co, analysts Peter Goldmacher and Joe del Callar note that IBM and Oracle are being edged out of Sears in favor of open sources alternatives:
The primary issue facing Sears was the reality that the current line up of technology it had been using from its existing vendors wasn't able to keep up with the demands of the business. The benefit of its transition to a custom environment [that includes significant open source adoption] is a more nimble IT infrastructure that can better support the business at a materially lower cost.
In making this radical shift, Oracle and IBM are the losers:
IBM mainframes and Oracle Exadata were two technologies described as too expensive and not flexible enough to adapt to the changes and seasonality of the business. Oracle RAC is being used only where absolutely necessary, and MySQL is seen as a compelling and viable alternative in most situations. The company is also moving away from Microsoft (Mail), Netezza (DW) and Greenplum (DW) in favor of open source solutions wherever possible.
What of the future?
Sears is investing aggressively in Hadoop, Linux and Private Clouds...these technologies are perceived as more flexible and cost effective. Sears has also been investing in IT personnel with advanced skills. Even with the increased investments in staff, the cost savings associated with getting off legacy technologies are perceived to be well worth it. Standardizing on as few technologies as possible is enabling IT to leverage staff across multiple requirements. ETL workloads on Hadoop have helped Sears make big strides towards a "Single Source of Truth" that was previously impossible. Sears is investing in high bandwidth connections to its stores and mobile, which should increase demand for Big Data mgmt and analytics.
Also see: Sears eyes big data for dynamic pricing, cost savings
Cowen's provided some interesting nuggets in the detailed analysis including:
While this kind of landscape is commonplace among newer businesses like Google, Facebook and so on, it represents a radical departure for an established business. I can imagine that many eyes will be watching closely to see how this ambitious project turns out.