case study

AmeriPride quickly deploys highly reliable disaster recovery plan

With the Sungard Availability Services Managed Recovery Program, AmeriPride was able to quickly deploy a reliable disaster recovery solution that fit its changing infrastructure, and that could easily accommodate future changes.

AmeriPride is one of the largest uniform rental and linen supply companies in North America. The company had been operating in a distributed, decentralized environment in which it held the data and information from its 45 branches solely within each branch, and not in a central location. AmeriPride was moving towards centralizing its operations, and realized that it also needed a centralized disaster recovery program that would work with a changing IT infrastructure, fill in gaps in disaster recovery and business continuity, and be highly reliable.

AmeriPride analyzed a number of partners for deploying a disaster recovery plan, and chose Sungard Availability Services because of its superior technology, support, match for AmeriPride’s needs, and customer recommendations.

With the Sungard AS Managed Recovery Program, AmeriPride was able to quickly deploy a reliable disaster recovery solution that fit its changing infrastructure, and that could easily accommodate future changes. AmeriPride also has access to Sungard AS’ expertise for disaster recovery and other infrastructure issues. Sungard AS provides all the staffing, services, resources, and hardware for disaster recovery, including servers, tape processing, disks, and software. As a result, AmeriPride will not have to lease space or replicate its own data center.

Partnering for business solutions

AmeriPride is a multinational organization operating more than 115 production facilities and service centers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Approximately 150,000 customers receive AmeriPride services every week.

AmeriPride had been operating in a distributed, decentralized environment in which it held the data and information from its 45 branches solely within each branch, and not in a central location. The company was moving towards centralizing its operations, and realized that it also needed a centralized disaster recovery program that would accomplish the following:

  • Work with a changing IT infrastructure. AmeriPride was in the midst of changing its infrastructure and applications. It was centralizing operations using software that handled all invoicing, customer tracking, customer care interaction, contact management, and more. In addition, AmeriPride was undergoing a major infrastructure upgrade, including upgrading its Oracle environment. It needed a solution that would work with its new infrastructure and business needs.
  • Fill in gaps in disaster recovery and business continuity. AmeriPride had contracted with an outside firm to perform a business impact analysis. That analysis found gaps in AmeriPride’s ability to recover from a disaster. AmeriPride wanted to ensure that its disaster recovery plan would fill in those gaps.
  • Be highly reliable. The loss of centralized data and business operations information would prove to have severe financial implications for AmeriPride, so it needed a solution that would not only be highly reliable, but also could help it very quickly recover from a disaster.
  • Provide much-needed expertise. AmeriPride does not have a large IT staff, and the IT staff it employed was already involved with multiple projects. AmeriPride was looking for a vendor that could provide a high level of expertise in disaster recovery.

“We needed a new solution,” remembers Jeff Baken, AmeriPride data center manager. “We needed a disaster recovery solution that would take into account our changing business needs and changing infrastructure.”

Strategic approach

Partially based on the business impact analysis that had been done, Baken moved to implement a disaster recovery plan within a period of six to seven months. Baken had experience with disaster recovery plans for the Federal Reserve and several large companies, and so knew from direct experience what was required.

Baken recognized that, given the size and expertise of the AmeriPride IT staff and the speed with which he wanted to deploy a disaster recovery plan, it would be best to go with an outside partner rather than try and deploy it in-house.

AmeriPride went through a selection process in which Baken analyzed a number of partners, including IBM and Sungard AS, among others. AmeriPride chose Sungard AS because of its superior technology, support, match for AmeriPride’s needs, and customer recommendations.

“We interviewed a number of customers, and based on that we chose Sungard AS,” Baken says. “In addition, one of the things I was impressed with was that Sungard AS came up with a plan to minimize the resources we would have to devote to it on our end. They were able to capture a lot of information that we had in various stages of development, as well as multiple types of documents in various locations. They took all that information and drew up a very solid and well-documented plan.”

The deployment went quickly and smoothly. AmeriPride was able to meet its timeline for having a disaster recovery plan in place.

Sungard AS’ Managed Recovery Program (MRP) is structured around the specific needs of businesses and the requirements of their applications. With MRP, Sungard AS assumes full accountability for recovery management. Sungard AS assigns a dedicated Service Delivery Manager (SDM) to a company, acting as an extension of the company’s team, reducing the cost and time required to send staff to a recovery site. The SDM has expert knowledge of the recovery program, including the workflow, timeline, and communication procedures. A single point of contact, the SDM coordinates test planning, test execution, test monitoring, post-test reporting, and the post-test reviews. During an actual recovery, the SDM is the liaison between the company and Sungard AS’ recovery team.

Conclusion

With the Sungard managed recovery Program, AmeriPride was able to quickly deploy a reliable disaster recovery solution that fits its changing infrastructure, and that could easily accommodate future changes. AmeriPride also has access to Sungard’s expertise for disaster recovery and other infrastructure issues. SunGard provides all the staffing, services, resources, and hardware for disaster recovery, including servers, tape processing, disks, and software. As a result, AmeriPride will not have to lease additional space to replicate its own data center.

“We know that we’re in good hands with Sungard AS,” Baken says. “They’ve proven just how helpful they can be.”

AmeriPride began to reap benefits even before the disaster recovery solution was fully deployed. As Sungard AS gathered information from AmeriPride to prepare the solution, it uncovered gaps in the documentation that AmeriPride used for disaster recovery, and helped fill them in.

“Good documentation is key to a disaster recovery plan, because you can’t just assume that people will be available in the event of a disaster or know what to do. Not only did Sungard AS develop the documentation for us, but they will do the actual recovery and execute the plan in the event of a disaster,” Baken says.

As a result of information Sungard gathered as part of deploying the disaster recovery solution, and guidance Sungard provided, AmeriPride was able to put together a more efficient IT infrastructure, including tiered applications, data, and backup. in addition, Sungard AS made recommendations for how AmeriPride should handle its backups to work better with the disaster recovery plan.

AmeriPride has done a number of tests of the disaster recovery plan, and has been very pleased with the results.

“In the event of a disaster, I know they would be able to recover for us,” Baken says. “I’m very confident about that.”

Baken lauds Sungard AS as being more than just a vendor providing important services to AmeriPride. “Sungard AS is a true partner,” he says. “They work as if they’re an extension of our IT staff. I have absolute faith in them.”

Results
  • AmeriPride was able to quickly deploy a reliable disaster recovery solution that fits its changing infrastructure, and that could easily accommodate future changes.
  • Access to Sungard AS’ expertise for disaster recovery and other infrastructure issues.
  • Sungard provides all the staffing, services, resources, and hardware for disaster recovery, including servers, tape processing, disks, and software.
  • Fully documented disaster recovery plan, with ability to execute the plan in the event of a disaster.

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