Monday, 5 July 2010 has its own private cloud computing service

A short time ago I responded to our leadership team’s concerns that the grocery API, still very much an R&D project (and on its own service) at this time, may not cope with the load when we come to launch our mobile grocery applications soon.

Having built up some skills and experience in using Microsoft’s Azure Cloud Computing platform, I offered that up as a possible solution. After all, the grocery API is built in Microsoft.Net as an ASP.Net application with a Microsoft SQL 2008 server database to manage sessions - it was a quick and easy task to convert and transfer it up into Microsoft’s Azure cloud.

So of course I told’s Infrastructure Design and Security team of my plans. They were not pleased. They were disappointed. Disappointed that I hadn’t sought their help first.

I argued that my R&D code was not something that should be put in a production context. “After all,” I said, “R&D code is here to prove the point and move on - hardly flawless”.

“Except,” pointed out Sam Hill, their team leader, “It’s not is it? You’ve created an API and got the leadership team all excited about the possibilities and the next thing we know is that mobile grocery apps are on their way, by the thousand. Didn’t you put on your blog 100,000 downloads of the Clubcard app in a week? Why didn’t you think of us when it came to hosting your API? We can cope with that load! If you are worried about your code, we can provide an isolated cloud service to host your API on, where it can’t reach any other part of our network!”.

I stood dumbfounded and somewhat humbled. Before me was Sam’s profound fact: has its own private cloud computing service.

Sam may not call it a “cloud” but his team is proud that they have created a comprehensive hosting service with a fleet of hundreds of web servers connected to large number of business, database, and operations servers that all run our service. They are resilient, scalable, duplicatable, and mirrored in several data centres. That’s what they do to keep every site on the domain on the air 24/7.

They can bring more servers (both physical and virtual) into play during loads, then pare back and save power off-peak. They monitor performance, have the weapons capable of fending off viruses and denial-of-service attacks alongside a comprehensive firewall system. They are surrounded by ceiling mounted 32” HDTV screens with graphs that tell them of their cloud’s rude health. They know they have built an amazing system.

And I had gone and said “Azure” to the leadership team?
The Tesco version of Azure is what Sam designs for his living.

Or is that, the Microsoft version of the Tesco cloud is called "Azure".
We came first, after all!

The Tesco Grocery API will be hosted by
Thank you, Sam and team.


  1. After waiting over a year for a Tesco Iphone shopping App I have given up and downloaded the Ocado Iphone App today. I will switch from shopping to Ocado because the ability to build up my family shopping order over the week on my phone is just too compelling to wait any longer for. Its good news that Tesco have their own cloud computing service but you are lagging behind the competition in regards to home shopping. If Argos, Next, Amazon and Ocado can get an iPhone app out then there is no excuse for Tesco to still be falling behind.

  2. Hi Nick, is there chance for a lowly buyer in Cirrus C to get a tour of this dream factory?!

  3. Hi Nick,

    Great news! Another great blog post about how Tesco is leading the way not just in the store and online but also with the technology and hardware that is used to power everything and keep everything online 24/7.

    The big question for me is what's going to happen when the Tesco API outgrows R&D? The core Tesco team may be happy to host the API on an area of their 'cloud' but what about support for the service and for the developers? We have seen (I know your a busy man) the slow response on the forum about posts...


  4. The question is when? Tesco seemed to be leading the way a while back in developing web services which actually had a use... but now everyone is overtaking you and releasing production services and apps across multiple platforms (including the incredibly fast growing Android system). What has happened?

  5. Guys, your application Tescofinder on Iphone does not work since the last update in May. You can no longer search for items which means it's not usable. When will this be sorted as the application is a god send when shopping?

  6. This Sam Hill sounds like an inspiration, a prince amongst men, less a man more a god!

  7. Well since he's taken on our R&D API, Sam is indeed a god, and I will smite anyone who believes he has any less than deity status :)

  8. Hey guys,

    Do you think Tesco will be moving into the Cloud Computing market in general and start selling their cloud computing capability as a service?



As this blog grows in readership - and because it carries the Tesco brand - I have had to become more careful about the sort of comments that are acceptable. The good news is that I'm a champion of free speech so please be as praising or as critical as you wish! The only comments I DON'T allow through are:

1. Comments which criticise an individual other than myself, or are critical of an organisation other than Tesco. This is simply because they cannot defend themselves so is unfair and possibly libellous. Comments about some aspect of Tesco being better/worse than another equivalent organisation are allowed as long as you start by saying "in my personal opinion.." or "I think that...". ... followed by a "...because.." and some reasoned argument.

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