Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Sears Is Turning Shuttered Stores Into Data Centers

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the dystopian-or-utopian-you-decide dept.

Businesses 137

miller60 writes "Servers may soon fill the aisles where shoppers once roamed. Sears Holdings is seeking to convert former Sears and Kmart stores into Internet data hubs. Some stand-alone stores and distribution centers may be repurposed as data centers, while mall-based stores can be converted into disaster recovery sites, the company says, offering access to stores and eateries for displaced workers who may be on site for weeks. Then there's the wireless tower opportunity. Seventy percent of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of a Sears or Kmart store, and these rooftops can be leased to fill gaps in cell coverage. It's not the first effort to convert stores into IT infrastructure, as Rackspace is headquartered in an old mall, and companies have built data centers in malls in Indiana and Maryland. But Sears, which operates 25 million square feet of real estate, hopes to make this strategy work at scale." Also at Slash DataCenter.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Satisfaction guaranted or (4, Funny)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year and a half ago | (#43805883)

Your data back.

Xbox One server centers (1)

rjejr (921275) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806211)

Is it a coincidence that MS just said they were upgrading their servers from 15, 000 to 300, 000? Gotta put'em somewhere.

Re:Xbox One server centers (1)

mcrbids (148650) | about a year and a half ago | (#43808203)

No, that's just a result of their Windows 8 adoption strategy.

Re:Satisfaction guaranted or (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806645)

Well I will only be satisfied with the service if I get my data back.

Re:Satisfaction guaranted or (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43807429)

One stop zombie apocalypse home base + data recovery center!!

New HDD in Isle 6, New HDD in Isle 6! (5, Funny)

sinij (911942) | about a year and a half ago | (#43805893)

New HDD in Isle 6, New HDD in Isle 6!

I don't understand why place data centers in urban mall environments where property value is supposedly higher?

Re:New HDD in Isle 6, New HDD in Isle 6! (1)

houbou (1097327) | about a year and a half ago | (#43805979)

Because in the end, that value means nothing if these brick and mortar places don't generate revenues and the demands to store info, requires larger infrastructure. And people are shopping more and more online and less and less in stores.

Re:New HDD in Isle 6, New HDD in Isle 6! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43805995)

Because the cost to retrofit an old and empty store costs significantly less than trying to build a new location from the ground up, once you consider the acquisition of land, the cost of construction plus any infrastructure costs (water, sewer, roads, electricity, possibly gas lines as well - though waste heat may be used to heat the building during winter, if required).

Re:New HDD in Isle 6, New HDD in Isle 6! (3, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806051)

Because the cost to retrofit an old and empty store costs significantly less than trying to build a new location from the ground up, once you consider the acquisition of land, the cost of construction plus any infrastructure costs (water, sewer, roads, electricity, possibly gas lines as well - though waste heat may be used to heat the building during winter, if required).

I don't know... sure you're saving on a bunch of stuff. But you're talking about a building that was never made to handle the kind of stuff a data-center needs.

For SOME projects, sometimes starting from scratch is easier and cheaper than trying to retrofit an older / existing thing. Because by the time you tear down section A to rebuild it, that's a lot of time and money right there. I don't know if there's enough tear-down in this scenario to qualify but it's something to consider.

I've worked in a number of stores. Their power situation stunk. In the year 2000 I had to run the aisles and look up prices when the power went out for like 1/2 a day but the boss wanted to stay open. Meanwhile another store I worked at had power issues from time to time. And that was just for running lights, some registers, a photo machine, and a couple of PC's. There wasn't even a refrigerated section.

So you're talking about re-doing the power INTO the place as well as the power INSIDE the place.

Then you have to worry about cooling. No raises floors. Weak units. Not laid out for maximum air flow. You're re-doing a lot for the A/C.

Then security. Some stores have building that aren't exactly well protected if someone really wanted in. Sure there's an alarm but when one whole wall is plexi, the walls are thin, and the doorways weren't setup for protection. It's hard to really offer much protection.

Re:New HDD in Isle 6, New HDD in Isle 6! (1)

houbou (1097327) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806271)

I believe that you are right, but you are generalizing. And in this case, I think that every building has to be judged by what it offers. In general, most building have adequate levels of power. I've seen scenarios with power or other logistical issues, but overall, having the building in place, is usually a boon and cheaper to retrofit.

Re: New HDD in Isle 6, New HDD in Isle 6! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43807717)

I have been in lots of large store electrical rooms (not sears); most of them already have 3 phase power, and a store reno or rebrand usually demands a complete rewire anyways. One thing the stores have is lots of space. Space the racks a little farther apart and you can probably go without turning on the AC much of the year in large parts of north america.

Re:New HDD in Isle 6, New HDD in Isle 6! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806341)

Did you not read the article? It specifically said stand alone stores and distribution centers. A distribution center is not a urban mall area and stand alone stores are just that, a stand alone store located on property they own and not part of a mall area kind of like the sears appliance outlet near me that closed but still sits on private property and not located in or near a shopping center or direct urban area.

Im guessing no you did not read a thing, you saw the headline and at best skimmed the article for a second and then posted a comment without actually reading the source material and posted a uninformed response filled with assumptions and what sounded good to you.

Re:New HDD in Isle 6, New HDD in Isle 6! (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806737)

Did you not read the article? It specifically said stand alone stores and distribution centers. A distribution center is not a urban mall area and stand alone stores are just that, a stand alone store located on property they own and not part of a mall area kind of like the sears appliance outlet near me that closed but still sits on private property and not located in or near a shopping center or direct urban area.

Im guessing no you did not read a thing, you saw the headline and at best skimmed the article for a second and then posted a comment without actually reading the source material and posted a uninformed response filled with assumptions and what sounded good to you.

Did you not read the article? It said:

Although mall-based stores may not be right for data centers, they could be ideal for disaster recovery facilities, Farney said. That includes mall stores that have closed, as well as those that have downsized to a smaller retail footprint

So unless they are talking about building office space as a DR strategy, then they are thinking about using in-mall stores for DR datacenters. Which are pretty much the same as primary datacenters.

Re:New HDD in Isle 6, New HDD in Isle 6! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806891)

I didn't RTFA, but Sears Canada (A separate legal entity from the US one) definitely owns a lot of real estate. I think I remember reading that Sears in general owns many of their own store locations.

Re:New HDD in Isle 6, New HDD in Isle 6! (5, Interesting)

Aryden (1872756) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806443)

Actually it's because of leases. Generally, when an "anchor store" such as sears, belk, etc move into a mall or strip mall, they sign 10-30 year leases on the space. Unlike your general inline stores which sign 6 month, 1 year or variable lease agreements. They have to pay that lease out whether they maintain the store or shut it down. In many places, it is generally cheaper for them to vacate the store and just continue paying the lease without supporting the store itself. I see this as a way for them to continue to honor their lease while being able to generate revenue from it. Additionally, the costs for build a datacenter would be cheaper because you already have loads of parking, electrical infrastructure, security (joke) etc.

Re:New HDD in Isle 6, New HDD in Isle 6! (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806487)

That's interesting and answers my question. I was about whine "why aren't they selling that store?" You have done a great mercy for mankind.

Structure strength, cooling (1)

phorm (591458) | about a year and a half ago | (#43807295)

Well, a lot of other factors come in. Two big ones:
a) cooling
and
b) power

Another one is structure strength. Depending on what was actually in the floor-space, I wonder about a location's ability to handle a lot of heavy racks and HVAC equipment etc. Believe it or not the weight of all that stuff can be a consideration.

Re:Structure strength, cooling (1)

idontgno (624372) | about a year and a half ago | (#43807537)

Indeed. Floor load is a huge consideration. I've seen mainframe installations go catastrophically (and expensively) wrong when floor loading was miscalculated. Unisys mainframe through the floor. (Well, in that case, raised floor; the concrete actual floor was designed for an aircraft factory, so I guess its load capacity was better.)

Re:New HDD in Isle 6, New HDD in Isle 6! (1)

drcheap (1897540) | about a year and a half ago | (#43808081)

Parking? Since when did you need "loads of parking" for a datacenter? Many of them are at or close to lights-out operations, and even "fully staffed" locations the size of a dept store still only have a handful of employees.

Re: New HDD in Isle 6, New HDD in Isle 6! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43807995)

Aisle.

Maybe in standalone stores (0)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | about a year and a half ago | (#43805907)

... or malls that have closed completely. But very few mall management firms would sign off on turning one of their anchor stores into a datacenter.

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (4, Informative)

djdanlib (732853) | about a year and a half ago | (#43805935)

The summary actually says they are considering this for standalone stores and distribution centers.

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806913)

No matter how much I strain, I cannot hear the summary.

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (1)

TheTerseOne (2447418) | about a year and a half ago | (#43805953)

... or malls that have closed completely. But very few mall management firms would sign off on turning one of their anchor stores into a datacenter.

Wouldn't the number of firms that would turn up their nose at someone continuing to pay them rent (especially those malls that can't sustain a Sears, which are probably half empty) be far lower than those who would be grateful for the income?

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (1)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806005)

They're called anchor stores because (more so than the other, smaller retail) they serve as a draw. If a particular shopping center is in really bad shape or circling the drain, then sure, it might be one of those very few.

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806413)

No. They're called anchor stores because they sell anchors and other nautical equipment. Geesh. Did you even read the article?

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (1)

Falkentyne (760418) | about a year and a half ago | (#43807257)

Wrong, they're called anchor stores because they are shaped like anchors.

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806029)

... or malls that have closed completely. But very few mall management firms would sign off on turning one of their anchor stores into a datacenter.

Wouldn't the number of firms that would turn up their nose at someone continuing to pay them rent (especially those malls that can't sustain a Sears, which are probably half empty) be far lower than those who would be grateful for the income?

It's not really in question here because Sears is doing this with standalone stores, but an anchor store is exactly like it sounds; once a mall loses its anchors, it is done for, it's not a mall any more, it is a hangout for kids who don't spend money. Mall managers will do anything to keep anchor stores in place, and I mean ANYTHING.

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (1)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806115)

One of the links (the "in Indiana" one) points to a datacenter installation in a former mall The other one ("in Maryland") does in fact describe a former anchor store of a still-working malll turned into a datacenter. They apparently (http://www.marleystation.com/directory) still have at least a Macy's and a J.C.Penney's.

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806219)

One of the links (the "in Indiana" one) points to a datacenter installation in a former mall The other one ("in Maryland") does in fact describe a former anchor store of a still-working malll turned into a datacenter. They apparently (http://www.marleystation.com/directory) still have at least a Macy's and a J.C.Penney's.

Except neither of those is about Sears, plus: in Indiana the whole mall was bought and converted after it closed, and in Maryland I am pretty sure the store in question is not part of Marley Station, it looks a lot bigger like a standalone department store near a shopping center (but I am not from there so I don't know).

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (2)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806499)

in a mall part of the rent is paying the mall a percentage of your revenue for that store. data centers have no revenue like a retail store

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (1)

localman57 (1340533) | about a year and a half ago | (#43805975)

Dunno. You might be able to get them to do it.

Don't listen to the Analysts. You guys are every bit as good as Amazon. But what's the one thing Amazon's got that you ain't got? DATACENTERS!"

The whole thing seems like an April Fool's joke, until you realize that these are the people who thought that buying K-Mart was a good idea.

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806103)

>The whole thing seems like an April Fool's joke, until you realize that these are the people who thought that buying K-Mart was a good idea.

K-Mart bought Sears, not the other way around.

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (2)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806107)

Dunno. You might be able to get them to do it.

Don't listen to the Analysts. You guys are every bit as good as Amazon. But what's the one thing Amazon's got that you ain't got? DATACENTERS!"

The whole thing seems like an April Fool's joke, until you realize that these are the people who thought that buying K-Mart was a good idea.

You have that backward, K-Mart was the one who bought Sears (though it is more casually described as a merger). Sears was near bankruptcy and K-mart had the upper hand. Yes, it was a messed up world back then.

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about a year and a half ago | (#43807285)

The way I heard it, it was more like two drunk guys trying to hold each other up.

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806141)

Actually, K-Mart bought Sears, renamed themselves and moved into the Sears headquarters. I can see why you'd think it was the other way around.

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (2)

bobthesungeek76036 (2697689) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806035)

If one of your "anchor" stores is Sears you're already in trouble...

It's almost like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806209)

...they said exactly that in the article!

Farney acknowledges that many of Sears’ mall-based retail locations aren’t viable for data center usage. “I don’t think the industry is yet ready for a mall-based data center,” he said. “That may take some time. The stand-alone location is optimal.”

Re:It's almost like... (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806783)

...they said exactly that in the article!

Farney acknowledges that many of Sears’ mall-based retail locations aren’t viable for data center usage. “I don’t think the industry is yet ready for a mall-based data center,” he said. “That may take some time. The stand-alone location is optimal.”

And also said:

Although mall-based stores may not be right for data centers, they could be ideal for disaster recovery facilities, Farney said. That includes mall stores that have closed, as well as those that have downsized to a smaller retail footprint

What's the different between a primary datacenter and a DR datacenter?

Re:It's almost like... (1)

suutar (1860506) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806923)

I've heard the terms used in ways that implied that a primary datacenter always had your data, but a DR datacenter just had hardware and the ability to load the data when needed, for downtime of days while loading data rather than weeks while setting up new hardware, while still being cheaper than a redundant primary.

Re:It's almost like... (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43807013)

I've heard the terms used in ways that implied that a primary datacenter always had your data, but a DR datacenter just had hardware and the ability to load the data when needed, for downtime of days while loading data rather than weeks while setting up new hardware, while still being cheaper than a redundant primary.

Our DR facility has less hardware than the primary facility (just enough to keep critical services running), but everything is powered on 24x7 and data is replicated and up to date. Unless hardware is powered on and monitored, you have no assurance that it will actually power up when you need it.

My CEO would laugh in my face (and probably have security escort me out the door) if I said "Thanks for purchasing nearly an entire set of redundant equipment. So now if we have a disaster here, someone will need to swim through the flood waters and load up the trunk of their car with our backup tapes and drive half way across the country to turn on the servers at the secondary faciity and load up the data. We "think" it'll only take a few days to do that.... assuming everything powers up".

We do regular failover testing to make sure that the secondary facility really can handle our systems.

Are there really companies out there that have the foresight to plan for and spend money on a disaster recovery facility, but are ok with days of downtime while they try to bring it online?

Re:It's almost like... (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about a year and a half ago | (#43807007)

It doesn't say DR datacenters, it just says DR. There are of course disasters that require recovery that don't involve datacenters (eg office fire). Since his selling point for this idea is 'access to stores and eateries for displaced workers' I am guessing he is talking about more workers than would be in a datacenter.

Re:Maybe in standalone stores (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806319)

... or malls that have closed completely. But very few mall management firms would sign off on turning one of their anchor stores into a datacenter.

Anchor store? Probably not.

But 30,000+ sq ft of space that's not turning a profit? Absolutely.

Talk about.. (4, Insightful)

houbou (1097327) | about a year and a half ago | (#43805945)

recycling, good to see that these structures will serve a purpose beside being shopping stores! :)

Re:Talk about.. (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806565)

Actually it pretty much confirms the theory that Sears Holdings is a real estate holding company masquerading as a retail store.

Re:Talk about.. (2)

ameoba (173803) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806919)

Any sufficiently old company eventually becomes a real-estate and finance business.

April again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43805965)

good thing this wasn't posted at the end of March. I'd never believe it -- it sort of has that "too silly to not be true" feel about it.

Maybe Orange Julius can solve the IPv6 problem?

there is a blue light special on red light web sit (3, Funny)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#43805981)

there is a blue light special on red light web sits to day.

red light as in web sites that have slowed down to a stop.

Disaster Recovery Sites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43805983)

It scares me that anyone would think there would or should be any economic viability in 'disaster recovery sites.'

Re:Disaster Recovery Sites (1)

localman57 (1340533) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806023)

So, we're gonna be where people come after the disaster?

Yeah. There's bound to be money in that

Huh. Just gotta ask -- wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't ask -- How much did the Superdome people make off that whole thing? Cause I can't see us beating their volume.

Re:Disaster Recovery Sites (1)

Picass0 (147474) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806045)

Then maybe you should think out them as "offsite mirrors" Depending on what industry you work in there are compliance laws requiring you to have certain steps in place to mirror your data so you recover from natural or man-made disasters in a reasonable time. Yes, DR is a growth industry.

Re:Disaster Recovery Sites (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806075)

It scares me that anyone would think there would or should be any economic viability in 'disaster recovery sites.'

Providing disaster recovery services is already a big business.

I certainly wouldn't want to do business with a financial institution that has no capability to recover from a disaster that affects their data center.

Are they going to purchase old K-Mart buildings? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806007)

They are everywhere, and are never re-purposed. As for Sears, they are mostly in malls, and I can't see a datacenter being allowed in a mall.

Re:Are they going to purchase old K-Mart buildings (1)

Tr3vin (1220548) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806117)

They allow centers for guitars, why not allow them for data?

cooling, grounding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806171)

Data centers are designed from the ground up for cooling. This could mean an 85' by 125' room with 8 double-decker bus sized air handelers outside the room just for cooling it. I don't see a preexisting building the size of a kmart able to accommodating that. Next is grounding and lightning protection. The massive amounts of grounding loops and rods that go in the ground prior to pouring the slab of a properly designed data center is quite something. They will have no choice but to tear out nearly all of the concrete floor and replace it. Running it overhead is not optional in a proper data center. You need loops that can break or corrode and still maintain grounding. Their best bet is to completely tear down the entire building and build it from the ground up properly for cooling and lightning protection. Trust me.:o

Re:cooling, grounding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806747)

Bull. If they can make the Westin Building in Seattle a data center space they're not going to have a bit of trouble with these stores.

Re: cooling, grounding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43807181)

I build datacenters. I know what they require in terms of cooling and lightning protection. The building you are referring to is more of a switch and backbone access point. It's not purely a datacenter with tons of processors and harddrives packed together as tightly as possible.

if you totally cover the roof of a kmart with air handelers then you might have the space you need for that. But then you would hope the roof can also handle the immense amount of power cables and bus duct. It would probably require extensive reinforcement.

If they wanted to skimp on lightning protection then they may salvage most of the floor, but they probably won't be leasing any rack space to the government.

Re: cooling, grounding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43807599)

The cost of doing something like this without tearing the building down and starting over will still be in the range of 250 million. To spend that sort of money and be left with one big mess of a patch job would be silly. Who in thier right mind that needs rack space would want it there? They are going to pay for a new building anyway in cooling costs because they have an improperly designed and built building for it. It simply doesn't make sense. It sounds to me you have a bunch of people sitting around that don't know jack about datacenters trying to figure out a way to stay on payroll.

Die, Sears! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806185)

Sears is the worst-managed and worst-run company I can imagine. Several years ago, I tried _several times_ to buy a range hood from Sears.com. My order was deleted from the system multiple times, even after I called tech support and had them input the order on their end. I decided that I would never give Sears another cent (or, more to the point, never attempt to give Sears another cent, because they're unable to actually accept payment), and I haven't. Too bad to see Craftsman tools die, but maybe Home Depot or some vulture capitalist will keep that line alive.

Re:Die, Sears! (2)

MrNiceguy_KS (800771) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806687)

Craftsman is no longer a Sears exclusive. Can't guarantee this is the case in all areas, but my local Ace Hardware carries Craftsman.

Re:Die, Sears! (1)

steveg (55825) | about a year and a half ago | (#43807711)

I was foolish enough to keep my order for a new refrigerator active, despite weeks of delay in delivery. They had no problem accepting my money (they took it when I ordered it) but even after it had been delivered to their store they took a week and a half to get it to me.

After talking to me every day, assuring me, "We're loading it on the truck right now."

When it was finally delivered, the truck driver (who worked for a delivery company, not Sears) apologized profusely and told me that he had been standing right next to the Sears guy the previous day, listening to him lie to me.

It'll be a cold day in Hell before they see any more of my money.

This is a typical Sears Stupid Move... (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806215)

This is just as stupid as the other stuff Sears has done (or not done) over the last 20 years to slowly go out of business. Sears and K-mart stores are "retail" land uses and are located on land appropriate for retail. This means that there is a) a sizable nearby population base to draw customers from, b) access via high-volume roadways, c) lots of onsite parking, d) other retail nearby to draw retail customers, etc. None of these are important for a "Data Center" which can be located (and often is) in a rural and/or low-population-density area. Converting high-value retail real estate into 'data center' real estate is the same thing as taking $100 bills and burning them to start the bbq. Monumentally stupid...and typical for Sears.

Re:This is a typical Sears Stupid Move... (2)

captaindomon (870655) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806281)

They also have so much corporate experience in the data center industry. Why don't they just open a hospital while they are at it?

Re:This is a typical Sears Stupid Move... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806345)

I was thinking airport with those big parking lots

Having working in one of their stores... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806721)

I wouldn't trust their IT experience.

We were stuck on something akin to a shared T1, with a single computer/printer to handle the entire store's marketing (read: pricing signage), with a single-process print lookup interface that didn't have a template for our store. As a result, we spent at least 4 hours every morning just manually printing signage for the store, more or less one sign at a time (You could queue up multiples of the same sign, or a print a department in the rare circumstance the signage needing was accurate (one or two departments did.) However in all other cases you had to sit and wait, and wait, and wait for the necessary data to be pulled over the network, and reload for each different size of signage or department you were printing for.)

Sear's problems are MUCH MUCH MUCH larger than this indicates and pretty much goes from the lowest levels of management to the very top, utilizing outdated software and hardware that obviously hasn't been factored into either reducing employee time or long term infrastructure investment. Additionally, I don't know if it's still true, but when I was working there they were still using 10+ year old palm pilots with pre-802.11b wifi interfaces and barcode readers for handling markdown and RTM checks. Not to say they were particularly bad pieces of equipment (certainly faster than the aforementioned signage software), but we still had at least one failure a week with them and no long term replacement strategy.

Re:This is a typical Sears Stupid Move... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806325)

I'm concerned about maximum floor loading for the multi-story retail buildings vs. what a bunch of 3000 lbs. 47u racks can do.

Re:This is a typical Sears Stupid Move... (1)

suutar (1860506) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806953)

unless they seriously rework the power and AC I'm not sure they'll have enough total weight to be a problem anyway. And if they do seriously rework the AC they can probably reinforce the floors while they have the ducting out.

Re:This is a typical Sears Stupid Move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43807077)

I used to live in an old Sears store which had been converted to lofts -- it looked almost identical to the picture in TFA. The floors and walls in that place were thick, with massive 3' diameter pillars holding everything up.

Re:This is a typical Sears Stupid Move... (1)

todfm (1973074) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806347)

Not all retail space is high-value anymore. There are a lot of old Sears and Kmart stores in completely dead areas that have no traffic. And why would it be better to use the old stores for more retail instead of data centers? Like America needs more plastic shit.

Re:This is a typical Sears Stupid Move... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806453)

brilliant, put data centers in ghettos like what's left of Detroit. what could go wrong? jimmeh teh gangbanger gonna get a lot of bling and crack for pawning those servers and disk arrays....

Re:This is a typical Sears Stupid Move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806471)

after he takes his tire iron and beats in the skulls of those whitey honky cracker IT geeks

Re:This is a typical Sears Stupid Move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43807041)

We are talking about sysadmins here, those intruders don't stand a chance.

Think about it, they are like raptors. They understand redundancy, so while one is looking you in the eyes, you can be sure there are 2 more on your side, ready to attack.

Re:This is a typical Sears Stupid Move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806603)

What many seemed to missed and jumped out at me from the article. Was the possibility of them becoming an ISP. Usually they need a semi decent amount of rack space. Run wires or do wireless (plenty of roof space). Kmart could turn into a decent powerhouse of selling internet... Even better they have tons of room to co-locate cache servers. And not even centralized. Co located at almost the neighborhood level.

Hey its better than letting the buildings stand empty and do nothing. Pair them up with an akami or amazon or google or all three and they could do very well. Even if they rent out to another local ISP.

Tons of parking? Till it under and make 'green spaces' and look you have made everyone happy. Or even room to expand if needed.

This is a capital asset expansion plan and one of the most exciting things I have heard out of them in years.

Re:This is a typical Sears Stupid Move... (1)

MrNiceguy_KS (800771) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806933)

This is just as stupid as the other stuff Sears has done (or not done) over the last 20 years to slowly go out of business. Sears and K-mart stores are "retail" land uses and are located on land appropriate for retail. This means that there is a) a sizable nearby population base to draw customers from, b) access via high-volume roadways, c) lots of onsite parking, d) other retail nearby to draw retail customers, etc.

All of the KMart stores in my area - and I include in this the ones that are currently closed, which is most of them - are located in parts of town that used to be high-traffic retail but aren't anymore. The other businesses in the area are mostly commercial services and specialty. One I can think of that is still open is pretty much surrounded by large car dealerships. The KMart where I had my first part-time job closed over a decade ago. The building is now used as a warehouse for a construction supplier. Other businesses in the area is a farm equipment dealership, an auto parts store, and some place that I think sells well drilling equipment.

My point is that in my, admittedly anecdotal experience, the KMart stores are no longer in prime retail locations. It certainly makes sense for Sears to say, what the heck can we do with all these buildings we own?

Re:This is a typical Sears Stupid Move... (3, Informative)

dtjohnson (102237) | about a year and a half ago | (#43807457)

A K-mart store in my area stood empty for 6 years. The parking lot had weeds growing up, there was graffiti on the walls, and nearby small businesses were of the low-revenue, low traffic type with a lot of retail vacancies. This was for a store that was in a relatively affluent area with a lot of traffic going by every day. The problem was that the ownership of the store property was tied up in legal issues and no one could do anything with it. Maybe it was Sears or K-mart pre-bankruptcy or someone else. Anyway, finally, finally, the legal problems got resolved and the store was gutted and redeveloped into an LA Fitness and a Walmart food store. That was two years ago. Now, the whole block is thriving, parking is hard to find, and a nearby corner gas station was torn down to make way for construction of another retail block. The point is that sometimes the reason that the store property is no longer in a 'prime retail location' is because of the property owner. The same thing happens in residential neighborhoods when someone moves in and parks a lot of old cars around the house, lets rusting trash pile up, stops mowing the grass, and does not repaint when the paint is peeling.

70% (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806249)

"70% of the US population lives within 10 miles of a Sears/Kmart store" ...there is something strangely disturbing about this fact.

Re:70% (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43806323)

Not really. Sears used to be the big thing, if there wasn't a store near you, your community (read: all of nagging wives) wanted one.

Re:70% (2)

phoebus1553 (522577) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806397)

This type of [large percentage] of people are within [range] of a [ubiquitous thing] could be said for a lot of things when you figure how population is distributed. You know how AT&T can claim they cover 90-some% of the population? They aren't lying, but that doesn't mean that huge chunks of land aren't dead to them, including plenty of places you drive on the way between places.

Go ask google maps to show you all the sears locations in some major metropolitan area. Now take the measure tool and swing 10 miles out in a circle... covers more than you'd think.

Lets take Minnesota, because it's close to me. The Minneapolis metro is only 30-some miles corner to corner along the interstates and I guarantee that there's a sears or kmart on each corner suburb and one in the middle someplace. Put one of either type in the top 10 non-twin cities towns and blammo, 90%.

Re:70% (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806419)

How much closer to a Walmart or Target are they? That is why Sears and Kmart are going under.

Re:70% (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806593)

No, I don't think that's it at all. I think Wal-Mart won out because Sam Walton and the Wal-Mart execs realized the majority of Americans would rather have quantity over quality.

Re:70% (1)

Nutria (679911) | about a year and a half ago | (#43808057)

the majority of Americans would rather have quantity over quality.

"Good enough" is usually good enough, especially for consumer goods that won't be around that long anyway.

Re:70% (1)

faedle (114018) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806615)

Statistically, there's a reasonable chance they're driving by a Sears or KMart to get there.

Sears died not because of poor locations or lack or same. They died because they were viewed as non-competitive on price and poor merchandise choices, coupled with some pretty poor marketing (especially in the case of KMart).

Re:70% (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43807115)

Sorry, but poor locations, old locations, lack of upkeep, etc was a major factor.

Old malls (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806265)

HP used to have a big office park in Palo Alto that was converted from an old indoor mall. Recycling big buildings isn't a bad idea.

Re:Old malls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43807551)

DEC did the same thing wayyyy back in the late 70s, converting the former Merrimack Valley Mall, near the intersection of Mass Rt. 133 and I-495,
into their Tewksbury engineering facility. Ironically, it was just over the hill and across the street from Wang Laboratories. It's the facility that
begat the VAX-11/785, -11/730, Ethernet, CI, and other products. Years later, enough employees got sick of the stupid faux murals around the
upper edges of the walls that they finally punched out some holes and -*gasp*- installed REAL windows that humans could see through... Imagine that!!

Data General, when they were still alive and growing, bought a former car dealership in Westboro, because they were desperate for floor space.
They set up Dilbertian cubicals in the former showroom and assembly areas in the former garage bays.

So, no, it's not too hard to imagine. And if they don't have enough juice available for the server racks and the requisite air conditioning, they could
also convert them into self-storage facilities, I suppose...

I want to see a BestBuy hosting Amazon servers. (2)

dicobalt (1536225) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806293)

That would be poetic... justice.

Relates to K-Mart purchase (0)

Fencepost (107992) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806375)

When Sears purchased Kmart, some discussion related to the fact that Kmart holdings wasn't a retail company - it was a real estate investment company that happened to have stores on its investment property. This is the same - Sears owns a lot of property and this lets them pay for taxes and upkeep until they unload it.

Re:Relates to K-Mart purchase (2)

7213 (122294) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806483)

Sears Holdings isn't a retail company, or an IT company, or a realistate company, they are a hedge fund trying to squeeze out all the possible paper value from their assets. So that they can eventually convince some other sucker to buy these assets.

This is a continuation of some rather silly decisions that they've been making for some time.

Re:Relates to K-Mart purchase (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806581)

This may be a difference between KMart and something like Walmart. There are stand alone Sears stores in my area and while they are not the best place to shop, they have been able to keep up The mall stores that close are mostly at malls that close completely. Otherwise they are replaced with new tenants.

The KMarts are pretty much completely gone, but those building now house other retailers. There seemed to have a motivation to lease the spaces.

OTOH the Walmart that was built in the first Wave of the Walmart expansion into the city was unceremoniously closed when they moved 5 miles out. That stood vacant for a long time and there seemed no interest in leasing it. It was bad for the area. So while I have no fear that the two sears stores that would cause a problem in my area if closed, the two walmarts which are much newer is a concern.

Not far enough! (1)

DarthVain (724186) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806457)

They should turn ALL Sears stores into data centers!

this is great! (3, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#43806839)

For some reason, every time they want to put up a new store, they build new. Meanwhile, when the old stores get closed they just sit and the building never gets used. It's almost like ringworm, you get this ever expanding ring of dead stores that expands out for the city center. Every day I drive by 3 abandon grocery stores and even worse, new construction for 2 new stores of about the same size!

Its good to hear they are doing something with at least some of them.

Re:this is great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43807571)

I suspect that may have something to do with the way they depreciate costs/expenses and the related taxes (real estate, local/state/federal income), etc.

New Business Model: Value-Added Electricity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43807003)

Whoever can achieve the highest ratio of computing power to recurring costs for IT maintenance, rent, bandwidth, and electricity wins. When Jeffrey Skilling gets out, he can set up a company that acts as a broker for data center services.

Old news (4, Interesting)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year and a half ago | (#43807099)

Retailers have been doing this kind of thing for many, many years. The first indoor big box shopping mall every built (Southdale) was built just to have a place to attach a Dayton's store too. I got my start in IT in operations for a large retailer, working with the real estate team in setting up and closing down store properties was part of my job. Many retailers have as much business in real estate as they do in retail and this has been the case for years.

By way of point Home Depots are often located near Target or Walmart since they buy large tracts of land for their stores and as a defensive measure to keep the other companies store from being put up nearby. They then use the best space for their own and develop strip malls around their property. When they have a lot just the right size for a big box retailer they will lease it to someone like Home Depot just to keep the land from being used by the competitors as many cities have will build taxes for unused property.

McDonalds has been known to buy a large tract of land and build a strip mall just to ensure that they get a restaurant in a prime location. When stores closed down the realtors then find other uses for the store. This is something that the retailers have been doing for decades with professionally run and managed real estate companies that they own. There are even special tax exemptions to allow these operations with special discounts.

When Icahn wanted to do a hostile takeover on Target a year or two back his highest priority to get in - sell their property off for great profit - and get out. The only thing that is new about this case is that Sears wants to get into the data center hosting business. If they bring in professionals (which the article says is exactly what they are doing) to run it there is no reason that you couldn't see Sears do very well in a very short time doing this.

Since Lands End is Sears' upscale department (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43807223)

Maybe their high end cloud offering can be "Bits end" or "Wired End".

Zombies? (1)

WillgasM (1646719) | about a year and a half ago | (#43807287)

"Disaster Recovery", huh. Sounds like a cover for a Z-day survival stash. Everyone knows to head to the mall at first sign of a mysterious outbreak, right?

The old Sears Catalog (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about a year and a half ago | (#43807399)

I was working for Sears (as a retail minion) when they mostly shut down their paper catalog operations, as the internet was becoming a thing.

I saw it then as a huge mistake, as with their experience with order processing and shipping they would have had a HUGE head start against upstarts like Amazon.

But corporate inertia, along with MBA's probably would have ruined them anyway.

I bought my Hutch bmx at Sears (1)

future assassin (639396) | about a year and a half ago | (#43807631)

yah its wasn't a real Hutch but they licensed the name. But hey when you're 14 and its 1/3 the price of a real one you'll love it just as much.

My former employer built a DC in a Hechinger (1)

funkboy (71672) | about a year and a half ago | (#43808149)

Made a pretty good datacenter too. Already had a loading dock, concrete slab floor, & plenty of HVAC installation points.

Skynet: The beginning (1)

DMJC (682799) | about a year and a half ago | (#43808207)

And thus it was that Skynet was created in the middle of suburbia... invading all aspects of our daily lives. I for one welcome our new distributed datacentre/robot overlords.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?