Case Study

Financial Times relies on Sungard Availability Services to keep it in the pink

The Financial Times, one of the world’s leading business news organisations, is recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy and is read by 1.3m people worldwide in print and online.

Financial Times editorial and production staff rely heavily on PCs and Apple Macs to write and design the newspaper. Connectivity to the two data centres that host its ICT infrastructure is via the network of parent company, the Pearson Group.

Service Manager Jude Hull-Flower, who counts business continuity (BC) among his responsibilities, says, “IT is absolutely vital to the FT. Without our PCs, Apple Macs and connectivity to our data centres, there would simply be no paper. In over 100 years we have never failed to produce a paper and to do so now would be unthinkable.”

Apart from loss of credibility, missing a day’s publication would result in lost sales and advertising revenue running into hundreds of thousands of pounds. For this reason, the Financial Times relies on Sungard AS to keep it running in the event of disruption.

The FT’s strategy is predicated on denial of access to its premises or loss of connectivity to its technology centre. It contracts Workplace Recovery positions at one of Sungard AS’s many recovery centres in the heart of the capital and can rollback to a secondary recovery centre in the Home Counties in the event of an incident that affects the entire London area.

The Financial Times has called on Sungard AS’s help before. Most recently, it invoked its Sungard AS recovery service when workmen preparing for the Olympics cut through a cable. Jude Hull-Flower says, “Fortunately, Sungard’s expertise means it is able to get our work area up and running again in the time it takes us to walk to their recovery centre – less than half an hour!”

The newspaper recognises the importance of thorough and regular testing and, in line with industry good practice, puts its BC plans through their paces on a quarterly basis. It’s here that Jude Hull-Flower finds the Sungard AS team particularly helpful. “The Sungard people we deal with are very proactive and keen to help us get the most out of our contract. They’re extremely supportive when it comes to our testing and remediation activities, for example in refreshing our builds.”

The newspaper employs around 1,600 people in the UK together with many more freelancers. Journalists and staff throughout the business rely on the FT’s PCs for word processing, email and accounting systems, while its Apple Macs are vital for layout of the paper and production of the graphs and charts that give the newspaper its visual impact. Jude Hull-Flower observes, “Apple Macs play an important role in the production of our newspaper, magazines and web sites. Without them we would not be able to produce the products to our usual high standards.”

Fortunately for the FT, Sungard AS’s breadth of expertise means that, uniquely, its fast and effective recovery services extend to cover Apple Macs. The machines can sometimes be overlooked by organisations when it comes to BC planning. Jude Hull-Flower and his team value Sungard AS’s technical knowledge, “I’m always impressed with the calibre of Sungard staff,” he remarks. “They understand the criticality of delivering a good service under often difficult circumstances.”

There are few business operations more time-sensitive than the production of a daily newspaper. The FT’s BC team are responsible for ensuring IT failure does not prevent production staff meeting immovable deadlines to have the newspaper printed ready for distribution around the world. Jude Hull-Flower explains, “We have vans and planes waiting to ship the newspaper out and if any one of these slots were to be missed it would create all sorts of distribution challenges.”

“In over 100 years of publication we have never failed to produce a paper and to do so now would be unthinkable.” Jude Hull-Flower, Service Manager, Financial Times

“The Sungard team understands the criticality of delivering a good service under often difficult circumstances.” Jude Hull-Flower, Service Manager, Financial Times

Business risk

A missed edition would result in reputational damage and lost sales and advertising revenue worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

  • Workplace Recovery
  • Technology Recovery
Business benefits
  • Peace of mind
  • Negligible downtime
  • Continuity of production
  • Avoids financial loss
  • Advertiser confidence
  • Safeguards reputation