A major Canadian retailer’s IT infrastructure has crossed the finish line in Cowtown.

Edmonton-based Running Room recently completed the migration of its systems to Q9 Networks Inc.’s Calgary data centre. The comprehensive outsourcing contract has the specialty running retailer handing over

its critical e-mail, accounting, point-of-sale and inventory management applications to Q9, as well as its online store and Web site.

John Stanton, CEO and founder of the privately-held Running Room, says a primary driver for outsourcing its IT to Q9 was it simply wasn’t a core competency.

“”We did an assessment and were at the point where we needed to go outside,”” he says. “”One of the reasons we looked at various options, Q9 being one of them, is being up — and if you’ll pardon the pun — running at our retail (locations) is vital,”” he says. “”Also, our Web site is very interactive. We’re working all of the time with customers and getting them into wellness, whether it’s a walking program or a running program.””

Microsoft Outlook is its main tool for communicating across its 57 locations in Canada (the bulk of which are in Ontario) and two stores in the U.S..

“”Having a stable platform is really important,”” says Stanton, “”and we just found the challenge of looking after hardware and software is pretty overwhelming.””

However, it was the physical structure and location of its infrastructure that was disconcerting.

“”I was mainly concerned about some offsite storage in the event of a fire or flood,”” he says. “”That initiated our thought processes.””

One of the appealing aspects of Q9’s offering was the diagnostic tools available to prevent problems before they happen, says Stanton. “”We’re no different from so many companies. We Band-Aid a lot of things as we we’re going along,”” he says. “”We weren’t being proactive enough.””

Stanton says Running Room definitely wanted something offsite, and having its data and applications hosted as far south as Calgary has never raised any concerns.

“”We’re an organization based in Edmonton that does most of its business in Ontario,”” he says. “”Anybody who uses technology knows it really doesn’t matter where you are. You can be sitting on a beach or on a bus or in your office. You have the same accessibility, so the physical part of your box sitting in Calgary doesn’t concern me — it gives me some assurances it’s better protected than what we can give it.””

Osama Arafat, president of Toronto-based Q9, says the Running Room choice of a fully managed solution is becoming more common.

“”We’ve been seeing increased interest in a fully managed solution,”” he says. “”It now accounts for about 40 per cent of our business.””

Running Room joins about 30 Alberta companies that have selected Q9’s Calgary data centre to host parts or all of its IT since it opened six months ago, says Arafat.

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