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Incorporated in 1980, Metro Shipping provides a full freight management service to a range of industries including retail, automotive, foodstuffs and petrochemical, transporting goods worldwide by air, road and sea. It is a strategic partner to many of the world’s most successful blue-chip companies, managing complex logistics on their behalf and reducing transport lead times.
Metro Shipping’s emphasis on developing advanced and innovative IT solutions is one of its greatest strengths and differentiators. Its proprietary online collaboration system and its intelligent use of SAP and other ERP systems are heavily relied upon by Metro Shipping’s many multinational customers. High availability is critical.
“If our systems were down for any prolonged period of time our customers would go elsewhere. If we can’t do the job, somebody else will so uptime is absolutely imperative,” explains Simon George, Senior IT Manager for Metro Shipping. “We have a reputation in the marketplace for being an innovative, best-in-class company, with IT a particular strength, and I don’t want to jeopardise that reputation built over many years.”
With thousands of users depending on its technology worldwide Metro Shipping, in turn, relies on Sungard Availability Services to keep its systems running all the time. It has invested in a cloud disaster recovery service from Sungard AS, which replicates data on its critical servers in near real-time with a Recovery Point Objective of less than two minutes. This gives Simon George considerable reassurance: “Knowing our systems will be up-and-running so quickly not only gives our customers peace of mind but is also what helps me sleep at night!”
Sungard AS’s Recover2Cloud replicates Metro Shipping’s systems and data to one of its highly resilient UK data centres. The service provides continuous data protection by keeping a journal of data changes to enable restoration to a specific point in time in the event of a virus, hardware failure or software corruption. Should any servers fail, the replication service acts as the live environment until the original servers are restored, dramatically speeding up recovery time. What’s more, Recover2Cloud costs up to 50% less than traditional replication solutions.
In today’s complex production environments just one change a month per system can result in more than 10,000 configuration changes before each annual test. Simon George recognises the importance of frequent testing to identify and adapt to changes in the environment so there are no surprises during a real disaster. “You just want that reassurance that when you need it you’ve tested what’s on paper and know it will work,” he says. “Every time we test we find something we can do better. So we liaise with our Sungard AS team to put the improvements in place for the next test.”
Recovering a business is not just about the technology, it also involves their people so Metro Shipping also contracts 65 shared recovery positions at a resilient Sungard AS recovery centre near its Birmingham headquarters. This is fully-equipped with all the telephony and technology Metro Shipping might need should its own premises be unavailable and would act as an alternative workplace for key staff in the event of a disruption.
Simon George finds that being a Sungard AS customer helps Metro Shipping win new contracts. “When we are invited to tender and are talking to new customers it’s a given that we have business continuity provisions in place. Prospective customers often ask us for details of our contingency plans and I can say with certainty that we wouldn’t have the household names we do now if it wasn’t for our relationship with Sungard AS."
Since Metro Shipping made the transition to Recover2Cloud around 18 months ago, the relationship with Sungard AS has deepened. Simon George says, “I’m confident that if there is ever a problem Sungard AS will work with me to sort it out. I know I can be open and honest in my communications with them and it works both ways. I view it as a genuine partnership, the proof being that I was quite happy to sign another five-year deal.”