Case Study

Hosted SAP® Software allows Direct Relief to focus on serving humanitarian needs worldwide

From its humble beginnings in 1948, Direct Relief today ranks among the country’s most effective humanitarian assistance organizations. A global operation, the nonprofit brings critically needed medicine and medical supplies to millions of people who are affected by poverty, natural disasters and civil unrest. Direct Relief pursues its mission from its warehouse and office in Santa Barbara, California. Through a network of established hospitals and clinics spread across all 50 states and roughly 70 countries, the nonprofit has distributed $1.5 billion of aid worldwide in the last five years with a staff of just 65. 

In 2007, after years of relying on rudimentary tools, the board of directors selected to implement SAP® software to support their growing operations, and the scale of activity that needs to occur to support emergencies around the world. The SAP applications support various areas of operations, such as business intelligence, customer relationship management and resource planning.
Today, Direct Relief’s critical operations running on SAP software are hosted and managed by Sungard Availability Services.


  • Headquarters: Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • Non-governmental, nonprofit humanitarian aid organization; brings medicines, supplies to local healthcare providers worldwide.
  • Uses Sungard AS for hosting SAP software (including infrastructure and application management services, SAP NetWeaver®) and Disaster Recovery

Partnering for business solutions

After its implementation partner demonstrated a limited ability to host and manage the environment, Direct Relief partnered with Sungard AS for hosting and application management. Sungard AS has the required expertise in hosting and maintaining the SAP software-based environment, as well as a deep understanding of the SAP NetWeaver® technology platform – a value Direct Relief could not duplicate in-house.

With Sungard AS managing its SAP software environment, Direct Relief can focus on developing features that streamline its operations, donations and website with confidence that the data will be connected throughout their systems. If something fails, Sungard AS will provide the technical solution.

Sungard AS not only provides a high degree of all-around expertise in SAP solutions, but also serves as Direct Relief’s consultative partner. Sungard AS also offers a tailored approach to suit Direct Relief’s business needs, and a full suite of IT availability tools, including strong disaster relief experience that is critically important to its operations.
Direct Relief values the sense of confidence Sungard AS inspires as a trusted consulting business partner.

“Given the scale and frequency of emergencies around the world, the high level and precision of Direct Relief’s response activities would not be possible were it not for Sungard AS,” says Bhupi Singh, the nonprofit’s Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer.

“Sungard AS is incredibly responsive. For the cost of two full-time employees, I get a staff of 25. I have complete confidence in Sungard AS because I know that when a disaster erupts, they’ll have us up and running ASAP. I sleep well at night now,” adds IT Manager George Linker.

Direct Relief uses its own hardware, much of which is purchased through nonprofit pricing programs. Sungard AS oversees the hosting and application management services for SAP software, providing Direct Relief with support, SAN management and infrastructure management for its environment running SAP solutions. Sungard AS also handles network patching and upgrading, hardwareinfrastructure maintenance and annual disaster recovery testing, among other services.


“Sungard AS allows us to concentrate on solving more creative business problems related to our core mission of medical and disaster relief,” says Singh. “With Sungard AS, we get the three C’s: confidence, cost efficiencies and reduced complexity.”

Direct Relief also realizes several tangible benefits: The less it spends on managing its IT, the more it can spend on medical and disaster assistance serving humanitarian and medical needs around the world. Indeed, every dollar obtained from its backers levers between $35 to $40 in medicine and disaster relief for people who are unable to afford it. Recently Direct Relief was recognized by Forbes as “100% efficient,” and one of the 20 most efficient large U.S. charities.

Direct Relief knows it can depend on the Sungard AS team. Through deep knowledge of SAP software and understanding the Direct Relief environment, the dedicated team, delivers business availability assurance. After five years of working very closely with Sungard AS, Direct Relief has extended their contracts for another three years – with confidence.

“With Sungard AS, service is 24/7/365,” says Linker. “For an IT manager, that’s a dream come true.”


  • Opportunity to divert more expenditures toward humanitarian aid, not supporting IT
  • Confidence in application availability — even following a disaster
  • Ability to maintain high availability of critical applications with minimum in-house staff
  • Confidence to focus on developing functional applications related to operations, donations and website

Partnering for business solutions

Working with industry-leading technology partners, we are able to provide proven availability solutions tailored to the unique needs of your business. Unlike other companies offering individual technology services, Sungard AS is focused on providing responsive and integrated Cloud, managed services and disaster recovery, IT consulting and business continuity management software solutions to keep you and your information connected. Sungard AS provides for application availability using end-to-end data protection solutions to help you manage your data more efficiently, effectively and securely. The result is a flexible, cost-effective way to help ensure your data is there when you need it: Always