Thursday, July 23, 2009

Walmart - More than you realize

From: Eddie NWO Censored
Date: Nov 12, 2008 8:44 PM

Wal-Mart Partners With Army Reserve

Associated Press
November 12, 2008

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
has signed on to an Army Reserve program that allows the company and the Army to work together to recruit and train people interested in serving in the military and working for the giant retailer

Wal-Mart, the world's largest private employer, has more than 1.4 million U.S.

An agreement signed Tuesday obligates Wal-Mart to interview and consider all qualified, participating soldiers for employment after they complete military occupational specialty training

Lt. Gen. Jack C.
Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve, was in Bentonville for the Veterans Day signing of the agreement

When a reserve soldier who works at Wal-Mart is called to service, the company can draw on 1 million or so citizen soldiers to help identify a qualified replacement to work in the soldier's place.
The arrangement is expected to lower costs of recruiting and training for Wal-Mart

The Army Reserve launched the program in April and has already linked with numerous companies, including Lowell-based J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., Sears Holding Corp., Manpower Inc. and Northrop Grumman Corp.
, among others

The program also helps the Army find trained professionals

"I'm honored to officially begin an enduring partnership with a company of such impressive stature, the nation's largest private employer," Stultz said.
"Wal-Mart has been a great friend to the military, and I look forward to collaborating with our newest valued partner to achieve mutual goals to attract, develop and retain a quality workforce"

Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott said the agreement fits with Wal-Mart's way of providing employment

"Our company has a longstanding commitment to providing employment opportunities in the community.
We have also long recognized those who serve in the military, and it is a privilege to assist the troops and their families with this new initiative," Scott said

Wal-Mart has taken part in a number of other military-related programs, including one to help children deal with the stress of military life and providing pre-paid phone cards to deployed troops

Wal-Mart's data center remains mystery

The Joplin Globe
By Max McCoy
Globe Investigative Writer

- Call it Area 71

Behind a fence topped with razor wire just off U.S.
Highway 71 is a bunker of a building that Wal-Mart considers so secret that it won't even let the county assessor inside without a nondisclosure agreement

The 125,000-square-foot building, tucked behind a new Wal-Mart Supercenter, is only a stone's throw from the Arkansas line and about 15 miles from corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark

There is nothing about the building to give even a hint that Wal-Mart owns it

Despite the glimpses through the fence of manicured grass and carefully placed trees, the overall impression is that this is a secure site that could withstand just about anything. Earth is packed against the sides. The green roof - meant, perhaps, to blend into the surrounding Ozarks hills - bristles with dish antennas.
On one of the heavy steel gates at the guardhouse is a notice that visitors must use the intercom for assistance

What the building houses is a mystery


Wal-Mart's ability to crunch numbers is a favorite of conspiracy theorists, and its data centers are the corporate counterpart to Area 51 at Groom Lake in the state of Nevada.
According to one consumer activist, Katherine Albrecht, even the wildest conspiracy buff might be surprised at just how much Wal-Mart knows about its customers - and how much more it would like to know

"We were contacted about two years ago by somebody who runs a security company that had been asked in a request for proposals for ways they could link video footage with customers paying for their purchases," Albrecht said. "Wal-Mart would actually be able to view photos and video of customers paying, say, for a pack of gum.
At the time, it struck me as unbelievably outlandish because of the amount of data storage required"

But Wal-Mart, according to a 2004 New York Times article, had enough storage capacity to contain twice the amount of all the information available on the Internet. For the technically minded, the exact amount was for 460 terabytes of data.
The prefix tera comes from the Greek word for monster, and a terabyte is a trillion bytes, the basic unit of computer storage

Albrecht, founder of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering, said she never could confirm the contractor's story.
That is not surprising, since Wal-Mart seldom comments on its data capabilities and operations

A Globe request for information about the Jane data center was referred at Wal-Mart headquarters to Carrie Thum, a senior information officer and former lobbyist for the retailer

"This is not something that we discuss publicly," Thum said. "We have no comment.
And that's off the record"

Skeleton crew

The Jane data center is an enigmatic icon to the power of data, which has helped Wal-Mart become the largest retailer in the world, and to the corporation's growing secrecy since founder Sam Walton's death in 1992.
When Wal-Mart constructed its primary data center at corporate headquarters in 1989, it wasn't much of a secret: It was the largest poured concrete structure in Arkansas at the time, and Walton himself ordered a third story

"Not only had we completely designed it, we were under construction," said Bill Ferguson, a founder of Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects in Memphis, Tenn.
"They were pouring foundations, and Sam walked across the parking lot one Friday at the end of the day and said, 'You know, let's add a third floor and put some people up there'"

Ferguson said the Bentonville data center is built on bedrock and is designed to withstand most natural and man-made disasters, but is not impregnable.
The biggest danger, he said, is the area's frequently violent thunderstorms

"We studied making it tornado-proof, which is difficult," he said. "We calculated the probability of a category 5 tornado hitting it, which was less likely than an airplane crashing into it head-on.
At the time, they decided not to"

Since then, Ferguson said, changes have been made to increase the integrity of the structure.
The data center was designed with backup generators, fuel on site, and room and board for a skeleton crew in the event an emergency required an extended stay

Ferguson said his firm learned to design data centers by working with FedEx, which also is based in Memphis, and that the 1989 Wal-Mart data center was built so that it could communicate via any means available - including copper wire, fiber optics and satellites

The firm no longer works with Wal-Mart, and Ferguson said he had no knowledge of the design or purpose of the data center in Jane.
But he suggested that Jim Liles, a Memphis engineer, might know

Liles said he was a consultant on the Jane project, and that Crossland Construction was the contractor, but he was reluctant to say much else.
"As far as what its purpose is, all that has to come from Wal-Mart," Liles said

Crossland Construction, based in Columbus, Kan., said Tim Oelke of the company's Rogers, Ark., office had been in charge.
Oelke did not return a phone call seeking comment

'Never saw a plan'

The data center was completed in 2004 and was part of a project that included the Supercenter, which opened early last year, and a warehouse.
The resulting economic impact on McDonald County, known for its rolling hills and lazy rivers, is difficult to underestimate, said Rusty Enlow

"Just a few years ago, one new store would have been a big deal," Enlow said. "And I'm not talking about a Supercenter.
Just a gas station would have generated excitement"

Now, Enlow said, the county's tax base has doubled, and land is going for about $2,100 an acre, about twice what it was before the project was announced in 2001

Enlow is chairman of the county planning commission, a body created by popular vote in 1964 but which had not met until this month. Enlow said he doesn't know why the commission never met, but he believes it was because whatever problem prompted its creation was solved before the board was appointed.
He also said he's not sure the planning commission has any real authority, or would want any (there is no zoning in the county), but that he and the other 18 members are eager to bring even more business into the county.

Globe File The Wal-Mart Data Center in McDonald County is deemed so secret the county assessor was required to sign a non-disclosure statement before entering the site to determine property value The photo was taken in 2004, when the center was nearly complete

Read The Rest HERE:

At Wal-Mart, Worlds Largest Retail Data Warehouse Gets Even Larger

By Evan Schuman

At more than one-half a petabyte—or more than 500 terabytes—the warehouse dwarfs other retail databases

Its only fitting that the largest retailer should have the worlds largest database, but at more than one-half a petabyte, thats a lot of information, even for Wal-Mart

The vendor that is supporting those many bytes of data—NCRs Teradata division—begged for the extraordinary permission from the normally secretive Wal-Mart to announce this achievement Wednesday to make a point: It is arguing that its systems can scale without hiccups even at an extreme number

But Wal-Mart being Wal-Mart, its not saying much. While confirming that it does even now have the worlds largest datawarehouse—and that it permitted its supplier to announce that—it wont say anything other than "to acknowledge an important milestone," said Gus Whitcomb, Wal-Marts director of corporate communications.
He referred questions to Teradata, saying its their announcement

Beyond issuing a news release that Wal-Mart is "increasing its lead as the largest retail data warehouse in the world," it gave no details as to the size or specifics.
The "more than 500 terabytes" figure came from a source who didnt want a name or a company linked to the figure

The statement did, however, point out that this massive data warehouse is not solely a customer CRM system, but also serves as the base for Wal-Marts Retail Link decision-support system between Wal-Mart and its suppliers.
Retail Link allows suppliers to access large amounts of online, real-time, item-level data to help those suppliers improve operations

Back at Teradata, officials are prohibited from discussing what they have done for Wal-Mart, but one vice president did take the opportunity to argue what it means from an IT perspective

"The issues we encounter at Wal-Mart are really not all that different from smaller retail data warehouses," said Rob Berman, vice president of Teradatas retail operations.
He contrasted Wal-Marts current data warehouse size with its earliest stage, when it was literally less than one-thousandth of its current size

"When Wal-Mart started with a 320-GByte data warehouse, it used one database administrator [DBA].
Today, the number of DBAs is still fewer than five," Berman said

Unlike a typical database that can get slower as it expands—and requires more time to complete backups and virus scans, for example—Berman argues that Teradatas approach sidesteps those growth issues. "Our system is nearly 100 percent linear-scalable.
Its designed to scale without the management restrictions of other databases"

How so? "Every time we add a node, we add an equal amount of bandwidth," he said. "Every time we add a component of processing power, we add another component of bandwidth. We just grow the highway.
Every time they grow in DASD [direct-access storage device], we add I/O bandwidth"

Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at