Tesco has virtualised 1,500 servers and a sales system, using Citrix XenServer software, in a move to increase real-time sales capacity by 75%.

The UK’s largest supermarket chain is working through an IT overhaul programme, due to be completed next month, in a bid to increase capacity and process four times as many transactions per second, while cutting costs.

The supermarket chain has already successfully virtualised its real-time sales (RTS) systems increasing the capacity of the RTS systems by 75 percent, to handle 1,500 sales-related messages per second.

The virtualisation programme will also lead to CPU utilisation of around 70 percent when the scheme is complete, compared to six per cent previously. The programme involves virtualising key business applications with Citrix XenServer, running on 64-bit HP ProLiant BL680c G5 blade servers, as well as HP StorageWorks storage area networks.

It is also attempting, in the longer term, to cut the carbon footprint of its datacentres by 20 percent.

Nick Folkes, IT director at the supermarket chain, said the virtualisation will allow "high levels of performance for heavy duty 64-bit applications”.

Tesco used a live migration program, Citrix XenMotion, to migrate virtual machines to other physical hardware, meaning it has not had any downtime during the move so far.

The company has an ongoing efficiency programme, known as Step Change, which aims to bring about IT and process improvements. The programme is on course to deliver savings of £450 million, Tesco has said.