Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses IT

Inside Wal-Mart IT 409

Posted by michael
from the jar-of-pickles-99-cents dept.
prostoalex writes "Information Week magazine takes a look at Wal-Mart's IT infrastructure. Wal-Mart's yearly global sales are quoted at more than 250 billion dollars, their IT spending is less than 1% of that. At the same time, the company manages to pursue new venues in optimizing retail with the wonders of technology. And what about outsourcing IT for the sake of optimization? 'We'd be nuts to outsource,' a top IT executive at Wal-Mart replies."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Inside Wal-Mart IT

Comments Filter:
  • by dwgranth (578126) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:25PM (#10420677) Journal
    ... and she says its hell on wheels.. and they don't get paid well according to industry standards... i guess thats the walmart way.. makem work hard, dont pay too much, $$$profit
    • by Chess_the_cat (653159) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:30PM (#10420729) Homepage
      Wal-Mart employs 950 000 people so I'd think they pretty much set the standard for their industry rather than paying above or below it.
      • "Wal-Mart employs 950 000 people so I'd think they pretty much set the standard for their industry rather than paying above or below it."

        So you think that 950k people is the majority of the IT infrastructure the world over? Wal-Mart isn't setting standards, they're just dragging the average down.

      • Cool story (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rsilvergun (571051) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:58PM (#10421338)
        comunities who let Walmart's in see a dramatic rise in the number of people claiming government benefits (medicare/caid, welfare, child care, etc). Walmart pays so little and their benefits suck so much that just about anyone who works there qualifies. They're nothing but a leech on the communities they move in on. Yeah, you're getting low prices now, but they long term impact sucks.
    • by cjsnell (5825) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:46PM (#10420844) Journal

      I applied for an IT job there about five years ago and one of their managers called me back. Their salary range was definitely below industry standards but he said something funny which really turned me off on the job: this position required a lot of travel and when they travelled, they slept two people in the same hotel room because "it's the Wal-Mart way".

      Me: No thanks.
      • by swb (14022) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:41PM (#10421211)
        This suggests all kinds of opportunities for mayhem:

        (1) At "bedtime", go into the bathroom and make it sound like you're giving birth to triplets. Flush the toilet like 10 times. When "finished", put some kind of horriffic ass-stink in the bathroom -- like they used to sell at gag stores. Walk out of the bathroom as if nothing happened.

        (2) Figure a way to wake up before your roomie. Have/fake a massive hard-on beneath the sheet, and when you see rommie stir, say "Morning, $roomie" making sure they see you're sporting wood. Take this further by pretending to fanatically jack off as they get up. If/when they make a nosie, pretend you were sleeping (most Slashdotters should remember how this works from home/dorms).

        (3) Always come out of the shower stark naked. Don't get dressed right away. Hem and haw about it. A further option is to point to inner thigh or ass crack and ask about "bump" or "sore". Other questions -- "How's your daughter doing?" "I saw your wife the other day." "Do you think I'm fat?" Bonus points for erection.

        (4) Try to plant sick porn (anything harder than Hustler) in traveling companion's luggage. "Honey, can you unpack my suitcase?" Bonus for gay/fetish porn.
      • Thanks for adding one more reason why Wal-Mart is on my "no" list for employers - ever.

        Were I working at a small startup, sure, maybe I'd be willing to share a room, hoping those cost savings will help keep the company afloat, or make the options worth something.

        But really, a company of that size asking traveling employees to share a room? WTF? Let me guess, its probably at Motel 6 too. I don't mind staying at hotels that are not as nice as if I were on vaction...fine, as long as I can get net access
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:06PM (#10420973)
      A few years back I had a summer internship there... and it sucked big time. Here are a few things I remember (and keep in mind it was 4-5 years ago, so things may have changed):
      - everyone was required to be at work at 7:30am... the earliest you could go home was 5:30pm.
      - the pay was below industry standards, but it's in Bentonville, AR, so the cost of living was pretty low, too.
      - salaried employees at the home office were required to work 2 saturdays a month. IT was actually an exception to that rule, because it was understood that if you're in IT, you're already working a huge amount of overtime.
      - the #1 complaint from the employees while I was there was burnout. (big surprise!)
      - at the end of the week, you got an email that was copied to your manager that listed: the # of emails you'd sent and received that week both internal and external to the company, the websites you'd visited outside of the intranet, and long distance phone #'s you'd called, the length of the call, and the cost of that call to the company.

      That's one of the ways they can spend only 1% of sales on IT: they monitored everything you did and made sure you weren't doing anything non-work related. They offered me a full time position after my internship, but I politely declined.

      Oh, and did you know that they have a wal-mart cheer?!
      • by the_ed_dawg (596318) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @03:43PM (#10421631) Journal
        the pay was below industry standards, but it's in Bentonville, AR, so the cost of living was pretty low, too.
        If you were wondering how much cheaper it is than the rest of the country, you could look up the US Census data for Bentonville, AR. [census.gov] A quick glance at the economic data shows that median housing is $27,000 less than the national median. Having lived in NW Arkansas for five years, I can honestly say that is one of the nicest places I've ever lived and is very affordable. (I almost fainted when I saw that the price of fast food in California is more expensive than a nice restaurant in Fayetteville.)

        ...of course, I wasn't working for Wal-Mart at the time, so I couldn't really give you the opinion on that.

  • by vijayiyer (728590) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:25PM (#10420681)
    This is important news to CIOs. Walmart has traditionally been pro-business and strongly against organized labor and a "feel good" business approach. Therefore, when they don't outsource, they don't do so for the right business reasons, and CIOs elsewhere will take note. Over the long run, the market will do the right thing if you let it be.
    • by Bastian (66383) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:34PM (#10420767)
      Over the long run, the market will do the right thing if you let it be.

      The long run is nice and all, but it doesn't really matter to those of us whose lives are nasty, brutish, and, above all, short. If I lost my job to outsourcing or some other business fad and an economist came along and said, "your pain doesn't matter because things will smooth out in a decade or two," I'd probably end up doing something that would put me in jail.
    • ..and what exactly _would_ they be outsourcing?

      besides.. they do "outsource" on one level or another. they buy their operating systems quite probably and probably buy most of their software too instead of writing everything inhouse which would be nuts as well.

      (moreover, don't they outsource stuff like cleaning anyways? so they can screw over, ie. get it cheaper than if they did themselfs and deny knowing if they caught from having used some illeagal immigrants.. also they deal largely stuff that has been
    • by srobert (4099) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:51PM (#10420882)
      "Over the long run, the market will do the right thing if you let it be."

      This sort of nonsense was spouted by people who opposed the New Deal. People don't live "over the long run". They live each day. I've got bills to pay and groceries to buy NOW! Shall I tell my creditors to wait until after the long run has come and gone before I pay them. I for one will NOT be buying my groceries or any other thing from WalMart. Stick with Costco. They have deals that are just as good and are decent and respectful to their employees.
    • Over the long run, the market will do the right thing if you let it be.


      Hmm. I wonder how much longer we'll see MS as a staple of corporate desktops everywhere then?

      -- james
      PS And don't go posting that link about Bill Gates predicting Windows will be gone in 10 years that was on the main page earlier today. 1) he has a vested interest in saying that (EU antitrust), and 2) we all know how good Billy boy is at predictions (640k of memory, anyone?)
    • Therefore, when they don't outsource, they don't do so for the right business reasons, and CIOs elsewhere will take note. Over the long run, the market will do the right thing if you let it be.

      The reason Walmart doesn't outsource is because they consider IT/IS to be a core competency in the sense that it's necessary to excel at them in order to have an excellent supply chain. Supply chain management is of course what Walmart considers to be its primary differentiator, so they need to have a competent IT
    • From what I've been reading so far, Walmart doesn't outsource because they've figured out that you can always find enough people domestically that will work for peanuts in a lousy environment. I've yet to hear anyone who has/does work there say anything positive about the experience.

  • by discord5 (798235) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:25PM (#10420686)

    Shop smart, shop S-Mart

  • Head of Walmart IT (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nizo (81281) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:26PM (#10420693) Homepage Journal
    It is interesting the head of their IT has a degree in architecture, I wonder what the stats are for IT in general, especially for sysadmin type positions? I.E. Degree in CS (or related), non-CS degree, no degree.
    • Considering... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Safety Cap (253500) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:02PM (#10420955) Homepage Journal
      that degrees mean absolutely nothing in the real world*, what does it matter?

      The people in charge of Wally*Mart most certainly received their degrees decades ago. I doubt there are any PDP-11s--or whatever they programmed their PIC projects on--still in use today. I also doubt they use Pascal/Fortran on the job, but your sundry 80s BS CS has some of that on her transcript.

      .

      * PHBs and other people who don't know how to interview/judge an applicant's stillset abscribe "value" to a degree, but if you asked them exactly how that applies to the job at hand, you'd get nothing more than vapor lock in return.

      • The people in charge of Wally*Mart most certainly received their degrees decades ago. I doubt there are any PDP-11s--or whatever they programmed their PIC projects on--still in use today. I also doubt they use Pascal/Fortran on the job, but your sundry 80s BS CS has some of that on her transcript.

        Which is why the point of CS studies back then wasn't to learn how to program a PDP-11, nor is learning the Win32 API the point of CS studies today.

        I take it you do not have a degree. The most important things

        • Re:Considering... (Score:3, Informative)

          by Safety Cap (253500)

          I take it you do not have a degree.

          Incorrect. I earned my BS in Geophysics, Minor in Math. BFD. Took about 1/2 the courses for the MS before I got tired of being poor.

          When the rubber hits the road, having a paper doesn't mean jack shite in determining whether someone can actually do the job, and that, mi amigo, is all that matters.

    • ...high school diploma, no high school diploma, kindergarten certificate of completion, no kindergarten certificate of completion...
  • Nutty Butty (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nodatadj (28279) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:27PM (#10420699) Journal
    "We'd be nuts to outsource..." ... "because we already have all the cheap illegal immigrant labor we need right here"
    • When you outsource, you expect to pay less than if you do the job in house. Of course, the outsourcing firm takes their profit off the top, so the people doing the work get less. Considering how cheap Wall-Mart is already, can you imagine them finding anybody willing to work for what they'd pay through an outsource firm? Of course they won't outsource; nobody's stupid enough to work for that little.
    • Re:Nutty Butty (Score:5, Insightful)

      by t35t0r (751958) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:52PM (#10420887)
      or .."We'd be nuts to outsource..." .."because 90% of our products are from China anyways!"
  • Wal-Mart outsources it's distribution network to other companies. Noone is going to do the IT distribution systems better than Wal-Mart.
  • IT outsourcing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by toupsie (88295) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:28PM (#10420707) Homepage
    In my career in IT, I have always noticed that IT Outsourcing is always the last grasp for profitability taken by a management infrastructure that cannot figure out how to make the core business profitable. If only they could achieve more revenue they would not look at their backbone for sacrifices. A strong and stable business never eats at its internal support system to achieve success, it grows and expands its ability to capture new customers and markets. Otherwise it builds its house on a foundation of clay.

    Walmart appears to know this reality.

    • Re:IT outsourcing (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dwgranth (578126) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:33PM (#10420751) Journal
      amen.. if i hadn't posted earlier i would have given you some of my mod points... couldn't be a truer statement. As for the company I work for... we are starting to outsource (b/c we havent been too profitable lately.. so we have to run leaner/meaner.. quite literally). And this is after the first "successful" outsourcing project hasn't accomplished squat.. service levels are down in that area, and people are generally unhappy about the support/service they are getting from our currently outsourced division. But of course it was a success and so they are moving forward. I wish my company would learn...
    • Re:IT outsourcing (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MemoryDragon (544441) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:38PM (#10420788)
      Believe me, the trend now goes backwards, but a year ago in the total outsourcing craze, evenone of the biggest Banks of germany tried and failed miserably. They rowed back this year. And the bank was one of the biggest ones of Germany, and was far from losing money.

      Another example might be HP which is considered to be a really big outsourcer (while trying to gather customers for being an outsource resource supplier) HP as well is far from losing money, although the company goes down the drain slowly bug visibly.
    • Re:IT outsourcing (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DeepDarkSky (111382) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:16PM (#10421039)
      Very, very true. You are definitely desperately cutting costs if you are doing so through outsourcing. In my company, it was similar, though it was also because senior management looked at the software development payroll and saw how big it was and was misinformed about being able to get programmers in Manila to do the same work for about 10 times less. Fortunately, there was some resistance and our IT manager convinced them that outsourcing is not a solution, and if they really wanted to, they should do offshoring, but only on new projects for a business line that brings in less revenue and was high-maintenance (development-heavy) so as to "experiment" with less risk. This way, all of the developers in the U.S. stayed where they were, and new, less risky software projects were being done in Manila.

    • by rsilvergun (571051) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @03:08PM (#10421401)
      Businesses are always looking for _any_ way to increase profits. It doesn't matter how. It's because that's the CEO/management's job, and if they don't do it every chance they get then the short-term thinkin' fucks who drive the stock market will replace them damn fast. Think of it this way, if I'm a CEO and I save the company 100 million a year by outsourcing, chances are good I'll pocket serveral million as a bonus. 'Strong and stable business'? What do I care, I just pocketed 10 million bucks!

      Moreover, companies (and CEOs) are increasigly global entities. They move and operatate on a global scale, and can therefor skirt localized nastiness like recessions in one country or bloody revolutions in another. Marx predicted this, but all anyone can remember from him is that Stalin and Mao used his books for rhetoric.
    • Building on clay is fine, as long as you have good drainage and ventilation between the house and the ground.

      It's building on *sand* that proverbially leads to danger.

      Perhaps you were thinking of "feet of clay", which is a metaphor about virtue, not prudence.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Interestingly comment since they outsource a lot of manufacturing.

    I've read that if you take all the manufacturing companies in China that _only_ manufacture for walmart, and count them as a single company, it would be the biggest manufacturing company in China.

  • Not outsourcing! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BestNicksRTaken (582194) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:30PM (#10420728)
    Wow, this amazed me, Walmart is usually all about cutting costs, ignoring quality, overworking the staff and destroying the small business.

    Maybe they just haven't got around to it yet - or they're just paying the US staff Bangalore salaries....
    • They are a MERCHANT. You would expect manufacturing to be done by outside parties. Their core business is selling, not buidling.
      • by alkali (28338)
        Their core business is selling, not building.

        Actually, you can understand Walmart better if you think of their business as being compensated for storing consumer goods until people come to get them. Walmart outstrips its competitors largely by being clever about carrying as few goods in inventory as possible. (Think about it this way: assuming that you could service all your customer requests for inventory, would you rather have $2 million in inventory sitting on shelves or $1 million in inventory and

    • Why be suprised? (Score:4, Informative)

      by juuri (7678) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:43PM (#10420823) Homepage
      Walmart IT pays less than industry average wages with lower chances of salary advancement and absolutely tepid compensation packages for most long term employees.

      That said, it is a boring stable environment that you probably couldn't ever get fired from; guess that appeals to some.

      (The above based on numerous employees at IT and WalMart.com)
  • I've been on contract at Wal-Mart for six months. It just seems like 60 YEARS! The ISD organization is a mess, and it IS a CULTure all its own.
  • Sure they won't outsource for the moment. But the second that it's easy and profitable enough for them to do it, don't think that Walmart won't just take all their IT jobs to somewhere cheaper.

    They run a business for the shareholders, where profit, not jingoist sentiment, rules.
  • by fishbowl (7759) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:32PM (#10420745)
    What would a top "Finance" exec have to say about it?
  • by mveloso (325617) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:33PM (#10420759)
    It was maybe 2 years ago when I heard that Wal-Mart had massive system monitoring problems. They installed HP Vantage Point, then found out that it was a total piece of crap. It couldn't watch anything, much less their boxes it was installed on. I suppose they finally got all that stuff to work.

    Before that, I remember hearing that Wal-Mart used to make every store identical - down to the IP addresses of the boxes. It was a great idea, until it broke all the software that used IP addresses to track state. Imagine: push software to a box, then go to the next store. But wait, the software's already been sent, so no push. Doh!

    Overall, their business application people seemed really good, but their infrastructure people were less-than-stellar. It's an interesting environment nevertheless.

    Oh, and they were really cheap, too. You'd think they'd understand the value of infrastructure, you know?
  • eeeeevil (Score:5, Funny)

    by dirvish (574948) <dirvish@fou n d n e w s .com> on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:35PM (#10420768) Homepage Journal
    In case you haven't heard, Wal-Mart is evil [alternet.org]
    • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:23PM (#10421086) Journal
      Here's the article linked above. It is NOT a funny article. It is insightful and informative.

      How Wal-Mart is Remaking our World

      By Jim Hightower.

      Posted April 26, 2002.

      From union busting to Chinese sweatshops, there are a thousand reasons to worry about Wal-Mart.

      Bullying people from your town to China

      Corporations rule. No other institution comes close to matching the power that the 500 biggest corporations have amassed over us. The clout of all 535 members of Congress is nothing compared to the individual and collective power of these predatory behemoths that now roam the globe, working their will over all competing interests.

      The aloof and pampered executives who run today's autocratic and secretive corporate states have effectively become our sovereigns. From who gets health care to who pays taxes, from what's on the news to what's in our food, they have usurped the people's democratic authority and now make these broad social decisions in private, based solely on the interests of their corporations. Their attitude was forged back in 1882, when the villainous old robber baron William Henry Vanderbilt spat out: "The public be damned! I'm working for my stockholders."

      The media and politicians won't discuss this, for obvious reasons, but we must if we're actually to be a self-governing people. That's why the Lowdown is launching this occasional series of corporate profiles. And why not start with the biggest and one of the worst actors?

      The beast from Bentonville

      Wal-Mart is now the world's biggest corporation, having passed ExxonMobil for the top slot. It hauls off a stunning $220 billion a year from We the People (more in revenues than the entire GDP of Israel and Ireland combined).

      Wal-Mart cultivates an aw-shucks, we're-just-folks-from-Arkansas image of neighborly small-town shopkeepers trying to sell stuff cheaply to you and yours. Behind its soft homespun ads, however, is what one union leader calls "this devouring beast" of a corporation that ruthlessly stomps on workers, neighborhoods, competitors, and suppliers.

      Despite its claim that it slashes profits to the bone in order to deliver "Always Low Prices," Wal-Mart banks about $7 billion a year in profits, ranking it among the most profitable entities on the planet.

      Of the 10 richest people in the world, five are Waltons--the ruling family of the Wal-Mart empire. S. Robson Walton is ranked by London's "Rich List 2001" as the wealthiest human on the planet, having sacked up more than $65 billion (£45.3 billion) in personal wealth and topping Bill Gates as No. 1.

      Wal-Mart and the Waltons got to the top the old-fashioned way--by roughing people up. The corporate ethos emanating from the Bentonville headquarters dictates two guiding principles for all managers: extract the very last penny possible from human toil, and squeeze the last dime from every supplier.

      With more than one million employees (three times more than General Motors), this far-flung retailer is the country's largest private employer, and it intends to remake the image of the American workplace in its image--which is not pretty.

      Yes, there is the happy-faced "greeter" who welcomes shoppers into every store, and employees (or "associates," as the company grandiosely calls them) gather just before opening each morning for a pep rally, where they are all required to join in the Wal-Mart cheer: "Gimme a 'W!'" shouts the cheerleader; "W!" the dutiful employees respond. "Gimme an A!'" And so on.

      Behind this manufactured cheerfulness, however, is the fact that the average employee makes only $15,000 a year for full-time work. Most are denied even this poverty income, for they're held to part-time work. While the company brags that 70% of its workers are full-time, at Wal-Mart "full time" is 28 hours a week, meaning they gross less than $11,000 a year.

      Health-care benefits? Only if you've been there two years; then the plan

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2004 @04:23PM (#10421923)
        If you really think about it, Wal-mart is not evil. In fact, Wal-mart gives almost all of the benefit attained through their relentless cost cutting initatives back to consumers. Wal-mart's margins are actualy very small compared to most other businesses. Profits seem big because Wal-mart has sales of $250 billion, but margins are tiny.

        Wal-mart does not force people into their stores at gun point. People shop there of their own free will so that they can get the absolute lowest price possible. This behavior has consequences.

        Pay a higher price at your local store on main street, and suport their higher cost structure (buying american manufactured goods, higher wages and benefits for employees, lost productivity due to unionized labor force, etc.) or support the Wal-mart way.

        Most Americans choose Wal-mart. This is what sends jobs overseas to cheaper labor, encourages "big box store" suburban sprawl, and low quality jobs in the store. Wal-mart is simply supplying what the american consumer wants. this is not evil, this is meeting demand. Wal-mart would not be sucessful if people valued quality jobs over low prices always, in fact, they would be out of business very quickly (remember the low margin thing?)

        • Most Americans choose Wal-mart.

          If you live in Podunk, USA, you probably don't have a choice. This is because Wal-Mart will artificially lower their prices to force out any competitors, once they've wiped everybody out, they raise 'em again. There's an excellent program on PBS recently, see it if you get a chance.

          Pay a higher price at your local store on main street, and suport their higher cost structure (buying american manufactured goods, higher wages and benefits for employees, lost productivity du

      • by magarity (164372) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @05:33PM (#10422360)
        It hauls off a stunning $220 billion a year
        Wal-Mart banks about $7 billion a year in profits, ranking it among the most profitable entities on the planet


        7 billion in profit on 220 billion in sales is a miserable 3.18%, making WM modestly successful for a retailer but SAD, SAD, SAD when it comes to a lot of other companies in terms of profitability. And speaking of retailing, plenty of specialty stores have much higher profitability but just haven't grown so large as WM because less people want whatever specialty.

        Have you been reading 'No Brands' or similar nonsense again?
  • by Theovon (109752) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:39PM (#10420794)
    Now, if Walmart's tracking is REALLY sophistocated, then they'll figure this out AND be able to track things back to the supplier, but...

    One of the things that RFID would help with is the ability to not only locate a palette of some item in the stock room but also count the number of them. (Among numerous other benefits outside the stock room.) If Walmart employees (and you know how well-trained they are) get complacent about this and assume that what the reader tells them is accurate, then suppliers will try to take advantage of it. What happens if a palette comes in with more RFID tags than stock items (but not so many more that it's immediately apparent), and the supplier charges for the number of tags.

    This would result in a loss for Walmart, and if it's subtle enough, it could take them a LONG time to track down.
    • What company in its right mind would do that to Wal-Mart? They're a company with more than enough money to effectively bury any of their little vendors who tried to defraud them like that. And that is exactly what they would be doing if they did that.

      Whatever gains they might get, Wal-Mart's vendors could never justify the risks involved. Suppose they only get a few more "sales" here and there. Is that kind of increase in revenue worth getting millions of dollars in legal fees and fines shoved up their ass
  • Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quixote (154172) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:42PM (#10420816) Homepage Journal
    Walmart isn't being altruistic by not outsourcing; in fact, if they knew they could make money in the long run by outsourcing, they would have done so a long time ago.

    The fact is, their main edge over their competitors is their inventory management system (just-in-time, etc.). If they outsourced this, what is to stop their outsourcee to take the knowledge and then shop it around to Target, KMart, Sears, etc.? Such valuable knowledge must be kept in-house if you want to maintain the edge.

    On the other hand, if it plain labor, then Walmart _encourages_ their suppliers to outsource. They keep asking for price cuts till the supplier has no choice. Read for yourself [fastcompany.com].

    • Not to belabor the point, but when Amazon was just a gleam in Bezos's eye, he hired some Walmart execs with massive options packages. They brought over some of the tricks with them, and it enable Amazon to get off the ground. Later, Walmart sued Amazon [cnn.com] claiming loss of trade secrets.

      This is why they don't outsource. Their use of IT in this sector is amazing. Of course, their (giving low salaries to employees | forcing companies to setup shop in China) is amazing too.

    • If they outsourced this, what is to stop their outsourcee to take the knowledge and then shop it around to Target, KMart, Sears, etc.?

      I dunno, maybe an exclusivity clause in the contract, with provisions leveling crippling penalties against the outside vendor for disclosing the inventory-management stuff Wal-Mart uses to any of Wal-Mart's competitors?

      I would imagine Wal-Mart can afford to hire Microsoft-caliber lawyers who would demolish a vendor who breached their contract with Wal-Mart.

      ~Philly
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:47PM (#10420850) Homepage
    The Soviets tried centralized planning, but they never had the computing power, communications, and data collection to support it. Their planning cycle was 1-5 years, and was based on total production counts. It was a dismal failure, out of touch with reality. (Although it worked better than what Russia has now. GDP is down 40% since communism tanked.)

    But now, we see how centralized planning can work. With hourly updates, bar codes, online registers, and quick feedback to stores and suppliers, the American economy is now run from a central location. Bentonville, Arkansas. Wal-Mart controls more production than Gosplan ever did. They definitely control production; ask any Wal-Mart supplier.

    Wal-Mart is more standardized, more controlled, and more centrally managed than the USSR ever was. In financial terms, bigger, too.

    • by TykeClone (668449) <TykeClone@gmail.com> on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:59PM (#10420936) Homepage Journal
      They control production, but they can't force the consumer to purchase what they've got.

      Soviet central planning was a command economy where the government dictated how much and what would be produced. Wal-Mart's central planning is more in response to consumer demand. We can argue about how intelligent that demand is, but it is still demand driven.

      • They control production, but they can't force the consumer to purchase what they've got.

        Maybe not in a legal sense. But in a practical sense, they do exactly that in lots of small towns across the US. After all the other local retailers are bankrupt and shut down, you either buy from Wal-Mart, or you drive an hour or more to some other town that still has other businesses. In some areas, Wal-Mart is the only supplier of most goods within several hours' drive.

        But this is an old story. It's what life w
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:50PM (#10420867) Homepage Journal
    When you're Wal-Mart, you don't need to outsource, because you're already paying crap salaries. The slogan "Always low prices, always low pay" didn't come out of nowhere, you know.

    Wal-Mart dictates its pricing across the board: to its suppliers, and to employees. When you can pay an American the salary of an Indian and get away with it, why hire the Indian?
  • True cost savings (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rollingcalf (605357) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:50PM (#10420873)
    If anybody is good at saving costs it's Wal-Mart. I don't agree with many of their business practices (such as screwing employees out of overtime pay), but saving costs is one thing they're really good at.

    They are smart enough to realize that in software development, the real cost savings come from quality and productivity, not per-person labor costs. Hiring, training and retaining people who can produce twice as much per person is much more profitable than hiring people who each cost half as much to employ.

    Outsourcing to cheap labor might work well for manufacturing toys or T-shirts, but cheap IT labor doesn't so easily bring your total IT costs down.
  • by Teckla (630646) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:50PM (#10420876)

    Offshore outsourcing software development is all about short-term gains at the expensive of long-term profitability.

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that training people who will ultimately take that knowledge and compete against you isn't a viable long-term strategy.

    I'm looking forward to seeing the faces of American executives when Indian software companies start competing against those same American companies who decided offshore outsource. "Gosh, we didn't expect them to compete against us after we paid them for years and years, giving them the crucial experience necessary to compete against us!"

    Oh, wait. Those executives won't care. They'll already have stolen their millions from the companies whose long-term viability they destroyed, and be sipping drinks while counting their money.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:52PM (#10420884)
    Looks like people are confusing the two. Of course Wal-Mart is not going to outsoure its IT. They teach you in B-school not to outsource your core competency -- which in this case is their information gathering and optimization that allows them to be so efficient.

    Offshoring on the other hand can be done without outsourcing. Wal-Mart just has to establish a developement center in another country that they fully control. Companies like IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft are offshoring work to China and India, but they are not outsourcing since these develepment centers and employees belong to the company, not a third party.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:55PM (#10420903)
    It is interesting to see how outsourcing has quickly gained an immensely bad reputation.

    Some are against outsourcing simply because American jobs should be kept in America. Some are against it because they lost their jobs to outsourcing. Others believe that outsourcing produces lower quality goods and services. And yet, others are against it because they are sheep.

    Of course many forget that American jobs don't belong to the employees, but to the employers. Management has to do what it must to cut costs, and improve profitability. It's about the bottom line. Boycotts against companies will result in a poorer financial performance, resulting in more outsourcing.

    And while, it is understandably tough to lose your job to Joe Third-World, I don't understand how some of the same people can support firing employees. Geeks aren't clamoring when big companies announce layoffs. Yet, outsourcing is bad, somehow.

    As to those who believe that outsourcing provides poorer quality goods and services, it is interesting to note that a lot of manufacturing goes on in Asia. The majority of the products used to make the computers that the Slashdot audience uses to read Slashdot is made in Asia. Besides, who's to say that American tech support is any better? Tech support staff everywhere are given guidelines or sometimes scripts to help them work. If they knew better, they wouldn't be working in tech support.
  • The UCCnet project that was mentioned several times in the article was a project that I was one of the lead developers for when I worked for CommerceOne/AppNet.

    It's interesting to see it in the news. :)

    GJC
  • by writermike (57327) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:58PM (#10420930)
    Many years ago I applied to work at Walmart. I didn't plan to work in IT. I just wanted to work at a store part time. I was a teenager in search of money. There was, as I recall, a three-part process: a mini-interview, a questionnaire to fill out, then another interview.

    One of the questions on the form was something along the lines of:

    "Do you feel that everyone tries drugs at some point in their life."

    The question wasn't specific. It didn't ask about "heroin," "marijuana," or even "aspirin."

    Anyway, I am sometimes Honest and I felt I needed to answer the question truthfully. So, checked "Yes," and wrote: "Yes, I believe that, at some point during a person's very long life, one tries 'drugs'."

    Yes, I was a dink.

    The interviewer took my form to be "analyzed" and, to this day, I remember the anger on her face when she walked out of that office.

    She said, "So, you think people try drugs, huh? Well, I don't think we have any place for a person like that."

    I don't think I can ever work at Walmart. I imagine my "form" along with my name and SS has been filed somewhere.

    Anyway, I suppose that Walmart's IT folks aren't pot-smoking, heroin-shooting, aspirin-chewing, drug-experimenters who sit in a daze watching Matrix letters melt on their screens, eh?

    • This is part of the "personality test" given all Wal-Mart applicants. It's supposed to filter out hippie scum like yourself and those that might want to join a union. This is 1 of the few personality tests I've heard of where you can actually fail. I know several people that work at Wal-Mart corporate and its suppliers. The majority don't have college degrees. The few that do didn't do that well in college anyway. And they are worked like dogs. The minimum work week for corporate is 45 hours, but you
  • by Mipsalawishus (674206) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:00PM (#10420940)
    Actually, Wal-mart outsources it's IT needs at every chance it gets. I do alot of rollouts and installations of IT related stuff for Wal-mart around the state. They use Cisco equipment for most of their switches & routers, and NT4,2000, & AIX on their servers. As for the quality of administration, it's not that bad at all. We have to document everything thing and call in to home office for the simplest of things like swapping ports on a switch so as to keep things in order. I know those are typical things most organizations do internally, but for company this size, I think it's pretty good. The workmanship of some of the wiring around the stores leading to and from the UPC rooms leaves a bit to be desired though.
  • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:03PM (#10420960)
    I know a guy who has an IT job at Wal-Mart. He says they used to have decent health benefits there, comparable to the rest of the IT industry, but recently they were downgraded to the same benefits that the "associates" on the floor get.
  • Their Storage System (Score:5, Informative)

    by Necroman (61604) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:03PM (#10420962)
    In the article, it talked about Teradata providing their data storage. Teradata is more of a solution provider then a maker of storage systems.
    http://www.engenio.com/default.aspx?pageID=394 [engenio.com]

    But to get an idea of the hardware they might have in there.
    http://www.engenio.com/default.aspx?pageId=61 [engenio.com]
    I'd guess something like that?
  • by PatJensen (170806) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:08PM (#10420987) Homepage
    I have several large store chains as customers I support. Not a single one of them use the same bleeding edge methodologies (RFID, data warehousing, etc.) to use IT to grow their businesses like Wal-Mart. This is a really good article and really highlights how using IT can grow your business, versus seeing it as a "requirement" and treating it that way.

    Some store chains "like" treating their customers like a vintage bank, i.e. do everything on paper, no redundancy, very low bandwidth links, long credit card validation times, etc. I think that Wal-Mart's success continues to hinge on them utilizing IT and that says a lot about their business.

    Alternately, because of a lot of what they do is bleeding edge - they don't get the same level of application and vendor support because other stores have implemented the same systems. While the risk is a lot higher in adopting new systems (i.e. RFID), the gain from being the first adopter and being able to profit off the technology will make up for it if they are successful.

    Pat
  • walmart = oinkers (Score:5, Informative)

    by zogger (617870) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:08PM (#10420996) Homepage Journal
    I can't despise walmart enough, and this is from someone who thought they were a good idea when they started out and used to be a regular shopper. They make MS look like a benevolent charity. They've had to resort to what in essence are a series of public propoganda commercials on the TV (seen 'em? pure FUD) in order to keep up what they are attempting to maintain as an "all amwerican" image with smiling happy workers. It's right out of kim ill dungs ministry of truth video factory.

    Here's a paste from this url http://www.familyfarmdefenders.org/whatsgoingon/wa lmart.html

    " Wal-Mart Exploits Children in Overseas Sweatshops

    Behind the slick veneer of success, though, there is incredible misery. Contrary to its "all-American" advertising hype, Wal-Mart sources over 80% of its products from overseas. According to the National Labor Committee, there are 1000 sweatshops in China alone supplying Wal-Mart - many of them owned and operated by the Red Army using political prisoners. Chinese teenagers get just 12 1/5 cents per hour for an 84 hour work week and at night are packed into squalid dormitories under armed guard. In Bangladesh, teenage girls receive as little as 9 cents per hour - far below the official minimum wage of 33 cents/hour - sewing Wal-Mart clothes. Wal-Mart refuses to reveal its factory locations to independent human rights monitors since, in the words of spokewoman, Betsy Reithmeyer, "This is very competitive. If we find a very good factory, we want to keep it to ourselves."

    Wal-Mart Also Exploits Its Own Workers in the U.S.!

    While, those sitting on Wal-Mart's board of directors earn a whopping $1500/day for their "hard work," the rest of the workforce languishes among America's working poor. Wal-Mart's vehement anti-union attitude means over half of its 720,000 "associates" qualify for federal food stamps. Wal-Mart employees average just $7.50/hr. - well below the national retail wage average of $8.71/hr. At 30 hours per week, a Wal-Mart worker earns barely $11,700 per year - $2000 below the federal poverty line for a single mother with two children."

    Basically walmart says, we'll force you to lose your job, then please come shop at our store! It's the american way! Oooh, unions are evil commies, but our trade associations and our relationships with dictatorial regimes are fine!

    ohhh..wait... this IS the american way now! How could I forget!

    This is what all these globalist goons want for the united states, this is how you will compete, so remember to vote for the NWO R.epressive And D.omineering corporate party this election, it will speed up the transformation to a glorius culture of low pay, dismal working conditions, and the cheapest designed and built crap possible! YaaaaY!

    • by FFFish (7567) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @05:16PM (#10422276) Homepage
      Wal-Marts vehement anti-union attitude means over half of its 720,000 associates qualify for federal food stamps. Wal-Mart employees average just $7.50/hr. well below the national retail wage average of $8.71/hr. At 30 hours per week, a Wal-Mart worker earns barely $11,700 per year - $2000 below the federal poverty line for a single mother with two children.

      And YOU pay for that.

      In short, the government indirectly subsidizes Wal*Mart because the government ends up footing the bill for those underpaid employees who need foodstamps, welfare, healthcare, and all that stuff they can't pay for themselves because they are below the poverty line.

      Next time you're shopping Wal*Mart, ponder that: you're helping create a welfare state, helping outsource manufacturing jobs to China, and all the rest.
      • by Lord Ender (156273)
        That's an interesting way to think of it. If I am already subsidizing the workers of Wal-Mart, I should start shopping there so I can at least benefit from what I am already paying for.
  • by urlgrey (798089) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:19PM (#10421062) Homepage
    "...sales are quoted at more than 250 billion dollars, their IT spending is less than 1% of that."

    Let's see here....
    $250,000,000,000.00
    x .01
    ----------------------
    2,500,000,000.00

    Just working with the 1% number, we can see their IT budget is ~2.5 billion bucks. With that much loot, I think it's fair to say, one can move mountains... and still make it back in time for afternoon tea.

    ---
  • by DeepDarkSky (111382) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:24PM (#10421090)
    ...there would be a big problem. $2.5 Billion in IT costs? For a global supermarket chain? I mean, if it was a technology company with big R&D budgets (like, oh, IBM, or something), that'd be a different story, perhaps.
    On the other hand, $250 Billion in sales is just that...sales of largely physical goods. A better indicator would be as compared to profits...or as a percentage of operating costs.
  • Ah well (Score:5, Funny)

    by PhotoBoy (684898) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:26PM (#10421100)
    I was hoping this would be "Inside Wal-Mark 'it' girls", a follow-on to the successful "Girls of Wal-Mart".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:36PM (#10421165)

    Don't sell IT software or services to Wal-Mart. They treat IT vendors just like they do makers of physical goods. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/77/walmart.htm l

    They'll negotiate you down to nearly 0 profit on your goods and service, and you'll sell because at the /next/ renewal you'll increase the rates slightly and make some of that money back... and Wal-Mart is a good reference account (just look at those seats man!).

    Once they get you in-house they'll rape your internal IT support until they become your most expensive customer to support... after all their internal people are underpaid and undertrained. And if you balk, their lawyers will eat you alive. Then next year when you try to raise your rates to a level where you can at least break even, they'll find some other vendor stupid enough to think Wal_Mart makes a good reference company and tear out your solution to implement their. And the cycle continues.

    Instead of landing Wal-Mart as an IT customer just give 2.6 million dollars to them and pound a nail through your hand. It's cheaper and less painful.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:39PM (#10421189)

    Disclaimer: I work for walmart.com so you can think whatever you want about my potentially biased opinions, below.

    I've been working for walmart.com since June. walmart.com is wholly owned by Wal-Mart Incorporated; our computer systems are different from IDS's, the group mentioned in the article, but the company culture and mission are the same. I see a lot of misinformation about what Wal-Mart and walmart.com do or do not in terms of IT and jobs. Most of what I see is bullshit spoken by people who've never worked here or who have bought the "Wal-Mart is Evil" propaganda.

    I've worked as a systems architect for some of the largest banks in the world, Nortel, Bell Atlantic, Sun Microsystems, IBM, start-ups, etc. Nowhere other than walmart.com have I seen an environment where the technology folks are encouraged to do their best like at walmart.com. While the politics in most places veer toward "it's not my job", here we are all encouraged to help and participate in addressing a problem and solving it. As a result, things get done very smoothly, people aren't afraid to speak their minds, and lots of sharp people keep joining the ranks (for example, one of the lead guys behind OS X now works for us).

    As far as the tools required to do your job, the company will get you, no questions asked, anything that you need to get your job done, with a minimum of red tape. Our standard development environments are Linux and Windows. For various reasons I filed a special request for a Mac with the latest OS X to complement my other two, brand new--and high-end--Dell boxes. I got it within hours as soon as I justified what I needed it for. The company will also pay for mobile/cable Internet access/Blackberry/etc. bills if you're using those to accomplish your job. Even if that means that you only log on to work once a month over that cable/DSL/whatever connection to check an email. Special software that you may need is only a signature away.

    After having worked at so many places, I can say that the people at walmart.com have a sense of mission and truly enjoy their work mainly because the company's and employees' goals are aligned. There are cases of people burning out, like at any other company, but even those who've left speak kindly of the company. I, for one, have a lot of fun with my work and almost immediate gratification when it comes to the sense of accomplishment.

    We interact with the folks from ISD, the ones that the article was about. As far as I can tell their sense of mission is as vibrant as ours.

    As far as salaries are concerned, nobody I know has any complaints. I make a 6-figure salary before a substantial bonus coming my way next year; you never hear anybody bitching about salaries at the water fountain or coffee station. The benefits are great. The salaries, benefits and perks are above those of most companies in Silicon Valley (we're located at its outer edge, in Brisbane, CA). We have the option to telecommute and/or have a flexible schedule.

    In sum, it's a fun, exciting, and challenging place to work.

    I posted this because I get tired of people engaging into Wal-Mart bashing without knowing what the hell they're talking about. I know as a fact what the work, salaries, benefits, working environment, etc. are like. We are at the cutting edge of technology and we are successful at it. While the article from InfoWeek may not fit some slashdotters' perception of the company, it is probably accurate in describing the goings on at Wal-Mart technology.

    (Another disclaimer: I don't think I'm supposed to discuss what our exact infrastructure is; I will tell say, though, that whatever Netcraft is reporting about software from an Evil Company is wrong.)

    Oh, before I forget... we're still expanding and continuously hiring smart Linux/Java/etc. people, in case you want to come and see for yourself. In fact, I know we're hiring at a higher rate and with much lower attrition than most places in Silicon Valley as well.

    Cheers,

    Anonymous Coward today, with a /. ID 2650.
    • ...it will be... blissssssssss...
    • by Kenneth Stephen (1950) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @04:57PM (#10422146) Journal

      I have contracted at Walmart.

      Wal-mart has the worst working environment of places that I've worked at bar none. I have heard of worse places, but havent experienced such horror first hand, so Walmart is at the top of my shit list. Let me list a few observations :

      1. Tools required to do your job : while employees are indeed provided with their own phones, contractors work under sweatshop conditions. When I was there, in a 30 x 20 feet area, they had 15 of us stuffed in there and two phones to go around.
      2. Treatment of employess : Others have posted about the low pay at Walmart. That extends to I/T employees too. Furthermore, Walmart requires even its HQ IT employees to every now and then work in the field (in one of its many super-stores located in the Bentonville / Rogers area). Ostensibly the reason is to give the employees field experience. This is complete rubbish. The people who are exploited thus are not the designers / application architects who would be in a position to make a difference should they get such front-line experience.
      3. Cheapskates.com : Walmart has a scheme of monetarily rewarding employees who come up with ideas to save the company money. One of the IT employees I worked with put in the suggestion to do away with some of the janitorial staff by making all the employees empty their trash cans into the public trash area. She was duly rewarded and the policy implemented. Any place which is willing to sacrifice employee morale for the few dollars they save thus needs to be avoided like the plague.
      4. Cafeteria : should you work at Walmart, I advise you to either pack your lunch from home or go home for lunch hour. The cafeteria has a really depressing decor, isnt clean, and the food is utter crap. I used to walk across to the Wendy's across the street and eat fast food on most days. It probably was a healthier choice. The stuff in the vending machines are cheaper, though. At a time when the vending machines in other companies typically priced coke at about 55 cents a can, Walmart had them at 35 cents a can.
      5. Other people have already posted about travellers being required to share rooms

      Other than the above list, there are other considerations too that may apply depending on whether you are conservative or not. For example, at the time I was there (1997), one couldnt get MTV on cable, because the consensus was that MTV was satanic ("work of the devil" was the actual quote I heard). The number of churches outnumbered the number of gas stations. And when the neighbouring town of Fayetteville ("First home of Bill and Hillary Clinton" states a prominent billboard as you drive into it) was subject to a new ordinance outlawing the sale of beer in the biggest titty bar in the region, that proved to be yet another nail in the coffin for many contractors who were working there from out of state.

      Plus, if you cant take being located in the middle of nowhere, dont work at Walmart HQ.

  • by kbahey (102895) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:42PM (#10421227) Homepage
    From the article:

    The nucleus of the IT infrastructure Dillman presides over is a single, centralized, 423-terabyte Teradata system that churns data from 1,387 discount stores, 1,615 Supercenters, 542 Sam's Clubs, and 75 Neighborhood Markets in the United States, plus 1,520 more stores worldwide. "That's key to how we can leverage what we do into the future," says Dan Phillips.

    This may give the impression that this is the centralized mainframe system for Walmart.

    Actually, Teradata is used for Walmart's Datawarehouse, which is one of the most efficient uses of datawarehouses around. It does not process online transactions, it only does decision support type of work, with massive amounts of data.

    Others like Oracle and DB2 sure do beat it for online transaction processing (OLTP), but for Decision Support work on very large databases, Teradata is king. This is the major source of confusion when Teradata is mentioned, and the comparison is not apples to apples.

    Here is an an old comment by me with some details on Walmart's use of Teradata [slashdot.org].

    Here is another comment [slashdot.org] by someone else on Teradata.

    Disclaimer: I still work for NCR, but not with their Teradata division.

  • Walmart vs Navy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Camel Pilot (78781) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @03:13PM (#10421441) Homepage Journal
    This is an interesting article.

    The Navy decided to outsource their entire network (not just the IT component) via the Navy Marine Corp Intranet (NCMI) contract. A 8.9 Billion, dollars which is best described as a system design in a vacuum at the top with no input from the working level, emphasizing centralized control and is centered around Microsoft core products.

    Dissension is strictly forbidden at all levels - even constructive criticism. All press releases are rosy. But from the inside the situation is anything but rosy.

    Some at the upper end forgot that Scientist and Engineers work for the Navy and need a wide range of tools to do their job and be innovative. Very little open source software is on the approved for use including dangerous software like Apache or Firefox. Strangely we are required to use IE instead of Mozilla or Firefox.

    In practice what is see happening is that the old "legacy" netowrk is staying around why everyone just uses the NCMI network to read email and access the web. So in effect the Navy just hobbled its budget by $8.8x 10^9 dollars. Great winfall for Microsoft and Dell though.

    A while back Cringely [pbs.org] had an interesting article on the comparision of the NMCI venture and the way Walmart does IT. In a protracted war he placed his bets on Walmart winnng.
  • by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @03:15PM (#10421448)
    I used to work at Stream and I supported a variety of applications to do things like ocr, document layout etc (and I got paid like 9$ an hour to do so...).

    Anyhow one day I got a call from a customer at WallMart who was having trouble ocring a document that was made in word (she told me this right at the begining). The problem was the program wasn't picking up text inside grid like cells. I found later on the OCR app was marking all the grids as artifacts (ie pictures that can't be captured). I then made the mistake of asking if they could just get the word document and make that into a pdf if it would be a better work flow.

    Turns out the only reason they bought this ocr application was to move word documents from a machine across the room. Reason? They couldn't email the document from one computer to another, the computer's floppy drive was locked down, the computers usb port was locked down. So someone had the brilliant idea to spend thousands of dollars on an ocr application, print the document out, capture the document on another machine, which made it into a pdf, where they would take acrobat and save it as a word doc and correct any mistakes. Yes Wallmart's wonderful IT department is saving them money and time.

    I'm not kidding in the slightest - I swear on a stack of bibles this is really what she told me.
  • by ericbrow (715710) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @03:21PM (#10421487) Journal
    I work for a small local consultant. We often get work orders for Wal Mart. They come from a company called NET. Usually the work orders request seemingly simple tasks like "Run patch cable from switch to wireless router". We show up onsite, call NET to let them start our time clock. It takes about 15-20 minutes to find someone who knows what is really going on. Then it takes about another hour or two to figure out the work that really needs to be done. For example, I had to run an 8 ft patch cable, but it took an hour to find the switch, which was hidden in a box mounted to the wall 25 ft off the floor. I had to run the patch cable a little ways down the ceiling support to the wireless router. I couldn't leave until the guys at NET called the Wal Mart home office, and they could ping the wireless unit.

    Since I don't work for Wal-Mart, and my butt was the one 25ft up in the air running cable, I would call this outsourcing.

    • by Zak3056 (69287) *
      Since I don't work for Wal-Mart, and my butt was the one 25ft up in the air running cable, I would call this outsourcing.

      My guess is they don't consider this IT, they consider it "facilities."

  • by Tojosan (641739) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @04:28PM (#10421962)
    I work for a company that sells various products to Walmart. In the last couple of years we moved from a mish mash of paper/fax/edi to full blown AS2/EDIINT connectivity. Of all the partners we have made this transition with, the Walmart team was the most knowledgeable about their own software, AS2 connectivity, and their partner expectations.

    Yes, setting up with them was not about user friendliness, but trust me, they were the partners we have had the absolute fewest issues with. For any issue, they are knowledgeable, helpful, and consistent. The folks I spoke with at 1st and 2nd level support were polite and all about resolution, not blame, or fault and took ownership.

    As I said, I work for a company that does a huge amount of business with them, but I can't say all the above things about any of our other partners.

I am the wandering glitch -- catch me if you can.

Working...