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The Co-op is decommissioning its owned data centres, migrating the business applications that run on servers within them to the cloud.

The shift will help the retailer reduce its energy usage and support its sustainability goals, Co-op Group’s chief technology officer Rob Elsey told The Grocer, and improve overall value for members.

“If you’re trying to maintain a modern data centre, the power backups, the batteries, the generators, the location of them, the building upkeep, making sure you’ve got the right access controls” ultimately prove “costly with our members’ money”, he explained.

“So therefore, it makes more sense to leverage someone who has the scale and the existing facilities built at that level already,” Elsey, who joined Co-op in 2021 from the Bank of England, added.

Managing the move and running Co-op’s cloud computing environment is Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) – a partner of Co-op for the last 14 years.

The Co-op Group is already a “heavy user of cloud” computing, with many essential business applications running in third-party data centres. Some, however, remained running in two dedicated data centres owned and operated by Co-op.

“Being honest, data centres are not something that’s going to differentiate the Co-op,” Elsey said. “We do not have the expertise or the scale of demand anymore to be able to invest in that space and TCS has.”

TCS will also manage Co-op’s hybrid cloud and software as a service estate for “enhanced resilience and agility”.

“A big strapline we use around here is ‘how do we make sure we don’t have service disruption’,” Elsey said.

TCS is one of the largest providers of IT services in the UK, by revenue. Late last year it signed a multiyear deal with Asda to support the supermarket’s post-Walmart digital transformation. At the start of 2023, it extended its partnership with M&S to modernise the retailer’s core business systems.

“Our contextual knowledge, deep domain expertise, and technology prowess will help Co-op achieve their cloud-first strategy and result in a resilient digital foundation to support their business growth,” said Shekar Krishnan, head of Retail & CPG, UK & Europe at TCS.