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The 12 Factor transformation at Tesco: on retail IT

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This morning I saw a tweet from Stack Overflow Jobs that caught my eye – Head of Systems Engineering – Compute Platforms at Tesco PLC.

Tesco is embarking on a transformation project covering public and private cloud platforms.

“The Infrastructure Engineering team design, develop and operate all infrastructure used by Tesco Technology across our data centres, offices, stores and distribution centres. This encompasses multiple domains; private and public cloud, connectivity, end-user computing, CI/CD and monitoring toolkit. This includes both 3rd party and internally developed infrastructure applications and infrastructure that support the wider Tesco business.”

The role looks like a chance to drive IT architecture and strategy at one of the world’s most successful retailers. The ad continues:

“The Infrastructure team are supporting both the current Infrastructure and also the work required to continue the transformation of Tesco Technologies Infrastructure to modern platforms that can be easily consumed through self-service APIs, automatically handle failures and use best of breed modern technologies.”

Not sure how Tesco managed to avoid the term “cloud native” but a few paragraphs later

“Understand current application development techniques (12 factor app) and their implications to infrastructure.

It’s kind of mind-blowing to me to see 12 factor in a job description of this kind. What’s the Twelve-Factor app? It’s a set of principles for developing, deploying and managing distributed applications first outlined by Adam Wiggins, one of the co-founders of Heroku. Twelve-Factor is what the cool kids were doing. Now it’s in a job spec for Tesco. The world caught up and the future happened.

What else is Tesco hiring for? A development manager for the Identity Service Team, which builds “modern event-driven and Restful services”. The Stack?

  • Java, Vert.X, RxJava, Groovy;
  • .net / C#;
  • Amazon Web Services, Kubernetes, Docker, Jenkins, Linux;
  • Apache Cassandra, Apacke Kafka, Oracle, SQL Server.”

The adoption of new technology is dramatically accelerating. Retailers used to think they had competitors to worry about. Then Amazon happened. Retail has fundamentally and irrevocably changed. IT is not a competitive advantage, it’s a matter of survival. Check out investments in AI and warehouse automation at Ocado. Walmart knows it’s in a life or death struggle and is investing accordingly. Tesco is not an exception.






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