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Businesses IT

Sears To Convert Old Auto Centers Into National Chain of Data Centers 167

Posted by timothy
from the where's-roebuck-all-this-time? dept.
1sockchuck writes "Sears plans to convert dozens of Sears Auto Center stores into a national chain of server farms, saying it wants to be "the McDonald's or Starbucks of data centers." The strategy is an evolution of Sears Holdings' previously announced plan to turn old Sears and Kmart stores into IT centers. Instead, it will focus on the more than 700 Sears Auto Centers, which include many stand-alone cement buildings on mall perimeters. Ubiquity Critical Environments, the data center arm of Sears, will team with Schneider Electric to turn these sites into data centers. They'll use repeatable modular designs to add power and cooling infrastructure, targeting at least 23 smaller cities where there currently aren't many options for IT outsourcing."
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Sears To Convert Old Auto Centers Into National Chain of Data Centers

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  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday November 14, 2013 @06:20PM (#45427764) Homepage Journal

    "We at Sears hold substantial real estate with high retail value. So we're going to turn it into something that is best located where nobody else wants to go, since that's where taxes and traffic are lowest."

    Wait, what?

  • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @06:23PM (#45427810)

    I used to buy a lot of stuff from Sears. My shed and garage look like an advertisement for Craftsman. Sadly Even their tools have dipped in quality since being bought out by KMart. I know a few people who were pissed that they received a "made in China" replacement tool for one that was "made in the USA". I'm not as hung up on that. But when the original tool lasted for several decades and the replacement a few months, there's a problem.

    The stores were dirty and disorganized the last time I was in one, which hasn't been for several months. In my area they also started closing at 7:00 or 8:00 pm, which has caused them to lose my business on several occasions. I'm not sure why anyone would trust their data in a place that they will never see when they can't even make the public areas of the store presentable. It's kind of sad to watch them die a slow death.

  • RIP sears (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14, 2013 @06:29PM (#45427873)

    It was over when kmart bought them. Instead of getting kmart prices and sears quality. We got kmart quality and sears prices.

  • So.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @06:46PM (#45428019)

    Will these Data-centers defraud their customers like the auto-centers did?

    http://www.nytimes.com/1992/06/23/business/sears-auto-centers-halt-commissions-after-flap.html [nytimes.com]

    Sears has been dead to me for at least 15 years, and it's not due to their irrelevancy. They have destroyed the public's trust in them with very long series of scams and deceptions. Remember the craftsman lifetime unlimited warranty on tools? Try getting them to fulfill that now... they just tell you they don't make that part anymore and offer you a coupon for a new wrench. Fuck sears, they should have died in the 80s.

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mspohr (589790) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @06:59PM (#45428149)

    Recently decided to buy something from Sears mail order.
    It was a total disaster. First, their web site wouldn't take my correct address leading to a 6AM call from the East coast warehouse to sort out the address. They then shipped a cheaper substitute part (different part number) and insisted it was just fine. Wouldn't take a return or ship a replacement. Finally protested the charge to my credit card and got a refund.
    Never again.
    Ironic that Sears can't even do mail order right these days.

  • by aztracker1 (702135) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @07:08PM (#45428247) Homepage
    The irony is they (Sears) shut down their Catalog support after the internet started to really take off. They were in a position to be what Amazon is now, back when Amazon was just books, and already had the infrastructure to support it... Even if they just put their catalog online in 1997 (with telephone ordering/payments), they'd still be very relevant today. "We tried that with Prodigy, the Internet is just a fad."
  • by alexander_686 (957440) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @07:39PM (#45428513)

    There is another angle to this – the REIT tax exemption. Sears is cash poor but land rich.

    There is a quirk that Real Estate Investment Trusts don’t have to pay corporate tax if they pay out most of their profits. REITs included apartment and office buildings, public storage, warehouses, and maybe server farms. (IIRC Rackspace was trying to convert. I don’t know what become of that.)

    Sears is trying to figure out how to move it assets over. This could be a angle where they rent the building but outsource the server farms to their partners.

  • by swb (14022) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @08:48PM (#45428969)

    In some ways I think data centers have gotten out of hand and created a market for less intensive, more retail-friendly versions.

    I get that there's definitely a need for all the security and triple-redundancy that high end data centers provide. But I also think there's definitely a market for a less complex version that maybe doesn't have the kinds of security or redundancy that big operations have. Not zero redundancy or zero security, but a less involved version -- maybe less peering, less security, one generator instead of two, etc.

    I work in SMB consulting and there's a certain number of clients who host their own systems in house but could benefit from putting them in a data center, but who don't quite want to pay the costs asociated with the standard model of data center. What they need is a rack with reliable power and cooling and better internet connectivity than they can get from a DSL line + Cable.

    A "retail" data center might let them get their toes in the water and solve some short term problems without having to cross the Rubicon into "big time" datacenter use.

    The most apt comparison I can make is Snap Fitness vs. Lifetime Fitness. Lifetime has more and better equipment, trainers, a pool, tennis, etc. But some people just want to lift weights and run on a treadmill.

  • by mysidia (191772) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @11:19PM (#45429781)

    These properties are all near major roads in urban areas that can supply sufficient power and run fiber without much drama, but the fact is they don't need bullet-proof power or network service to stream bulk data; when a local cache drops out clients can be temporarily served by more distant servers.

    Bulk caches like that don't need and can't really use an auto center worth of floor space though....

    They need perhaps 2 48U racks. With each of the major CDNs cache boxes taking approximately 6 to 8U of space.

    The application is too small; and I don't think anyone will pay them much for doing that.

    There's plenty of caching already available at service providers' facilities.

    End user's traffic still has to go all the way to their provider's facility, before going out to edge cache devicenodes...

    It's unlikely that Sears will offer residential ISPs such a great deal, that the ISPs close down their server rooms and move everything into Sears' auto centers.

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