When a well-known U.S.-based retailer acquired several new brands, management sought to establish a common IT platform to integrate operations and accommodate future acquisitions. The company turned to Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) — its disaster recovery (DR) partner for nearly two decades — to engineer a flexible cloud-based solution with shorter recovery times.
This American luxury goods business is recognised around the world for its superior design and quality across a range of luxury fashion products. It has more than $5 billion in global revenue and over 1,000 store locations.
As with many companies that grow through acquisition, this particular conglomerate’s management team is pursuing opportunities to harmonise and consolidate information systems across several brands, and thereby establish a more agile and scalable business model.
“In IT, we are moving toward a common platform to support all of our brands and gain efficiencies in back-end operations and systems,” says the firm’s senior manager of information security, business continuity and disaster recovery. “An important part of that is streamlining our approach to recovery of infrastructure and data so our business can continue operating despite disruptive events.”
The company has relied on Sungard AS disaster recovery services for more than 18 years, most recently contracting for a Managed Recovery Program (MRP) service that guarantees a 48-hour recovery time objective (RTO). During that time, the company worked with Sungard AS to keep its DR costs low, accepting that with the 48-hour RTO, the business could experience some downtime and potential data loss.
“Today, the availability needs are more critical, so we looked to Sungard AS to come up with an approach that delivers much shorter RTO,” says the senior manager. “Moving to a cloud-based recovery was something we wanted to explore, because it would give us greater flexibility and significantly improve our RPO and RTO times. When we approached Sungard AS about this, they were very confident that they could build out a solution that would fit our needs.”
Each of the company’s brands currently operates its own legacy systems to support key functions such as finance and accounting, procurement, point-of-sale transactions, store replenishment, and product development. The underlying infrastructure includes both physical and virtual servers as well as numerous storage platforms. The environment is inherently complex — and it is evolving in real time.
Rapid recovery from a disruption is also increasingly critical to the firm, a business that operates on seasonal cycles in highly competitive markets. As the company delivers on new product designs, it needs to move merchandise rapidly into stores. Interruptions to systems anywhere along the supply chain could impact business performance as well as customer satisfaction.
“It was important to us that Sungard AS wasn’t just pushing a pre-packaged solution and saying take it or leave it —that wasn’t their approach,” he adds. “Sungard AS took the lead to engineer a turnkey DR solution that meets our current requirements and future direction.”
A team of more than 20 Sungard AS technical staff contributed to the Recover2Cloud implementation and successful test—from network and cloud architects and engineers to data center operations and recovery specialists.
The company’s IT team worked with Sungard AS engineers to conduct a proof of concept to ensure the Recover2Cloud design performed as expected with key elements of the technology environment, including VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) for the virtualised environment, server replication for the physical servers, and data replication in a hot site configuration.
“The Sungard AS team provided expert advice and a ‘right-fit’ solution,” says the senior manager. “The Recover2Cloud solution adds value to our overall disaster recovery plan by delivering significantly improved recovery times. Data is now replicated on a much more frequent basis, and we’ve gone from a 48-hour RTO to an 8-hour RTO.”
The company also looks to Sungard AS for Workplace Recovery Services. The longstanding contract covers dedicated office space, connectivity, and equipment for 25 employees should the company headquarters offices be unavailable due to an incident. “It’s a small number of seats at a nearby Sungard AS recovery center,” he says. “It will support key personnel that are critical to our business continuity.”
“Sungard AS worked with our team to identify dependencies, our overall needs, and our requirements,” says the senior manager. “They designed an architecture that works for our unique situation.”
The company is pleased with the ongoing Sungard AS relationship and the latest evolution with Recover2Cloud. “Sungard AS has been in the DR business for quite some time. Their people clearly bring both expertise and experience to the table, and they have the flexibility to meet the needs of their customers. With those three things in place, it makes for an easy relationship.”
Read more about this company's ongoing relationship with Sungard AS to understand each other's business objectives and pursue further growth in our new case study.