Case Study

Savanna Energy depends on Sungard Availability Services for reliable recovery services

Savanna Energy Services Corp., one of Canada’s fastest growing energy services companies, provides drilling, well-servicing and oilfield services to a diverse oil and gas customer base. It maintains roughly 25 offices worldwide, including Australia and Indonesia, from a single data center in Alberta, Canada.

With only one data center and the use of an archaic tape backup process, Savanna’s IT team had concerns if a disaster were to hit. The company needed to ensure its data was safe with a reliable disaster recovery plan, and wanted a partner to help manage its evolving network.

Savanna’s Global Infrastructure Manager Jim Clarke led the charge. He sought a recovery services provider that would best fit Savanna’s needs— and Clarke wanted to get it right the first time. Working with their local communications partner at Allstream,* Savanna started conversations with Sungard Availability Services to discuss Managed Services and Recovery Services offerings.

Sungard AS now provides Savanna with disaster recovery and Cloud recovery services. Sungard AS helps the Calgary company simplify its IT operations in ways that improve productivity and maximize network performance while managing costs.

“Everyone in disaster recovery tells you they’re the best, but from my perspective the proof is in the pudding. Show me what you’ve done to help someone similar to us in an actual disaster.” JIM CLARKE Manager, Global Infrastructure, Savanna Energy Services Corp.

“Some people consider Sungard AS quite expensive, but I challenge them to go through the process and look at all the costs for disaster recovery. I think you’ll find Sungard AS to be one of the best priced out there.” JIM CLARKE Manager, Global Infrastructure, Savanna Energy Services Corp.

  • Headquarters: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • Business Profile: Oilfield Services, Drilling & Well Servicing Experts
  • Uses Sungard AS Recover2Cloud and Managed Vaulting
Business Benefits
  • Simplified IT operations, improved productivity and maximized network performance while managing costs
  • Turnkey Disaster Recovery and Cloud Recovery Services ensure security of Savanna’s invaluable data
  • Innovative storage and data management solution offers 100 percent virtualized production environment

Why Sungard Availability Services?

Savanna chose Sungard AS because it provides a turnkey disaster recovery service whose real time backup center, should an event occur, rests in another region providing geographic separation to ensure the security of Savanna’s invaluable data.

“Everyone in disaster recovery tells you they’re the best, but from my perspective the proof is in the pudding. Show me what you’ve done to help someone similar to us in an actual disaster,” says Clarke. Sungard AS was able to provide that expertise and track record for recovering companies from past disasters.
With a pre-built multiprotocol label switching mechanism in its data center, Sungard AS was able to speed up the service quality of network operations to days — not weeks — enabling a speedy migration to the Cloud and ultimately a strong disaster recovery plan.

It wasn’t always as simple. In 2005, the company housed all of its production and server infrastructure applications in one location. The facility employed tape for its offsite backups and every Wednesday, an IT employee would walk to the local bank to store the tapes for their protection. It wasn’t the best way to protect the company’s critical data, especially if a disaster struck Savanna Energy — or the bank.

“Very rarely are you 100 percent successful in restoring projects from tape, and it’s very time-consuming,” notes Clarke.

Never a fan of tape backups, Clarke began his search for a recovery services provider with an offsite backup facility geographically removed from Calgary, preferably in eastern Canada. At the same time, he was looking for corporate data storage that was speedier than the system the company outgrew. He looked at the Sungard AS data centers, which could handle both, and he specifically favored Sungard AS’ customizable technology for handling various systems.

Clarke was confident he could get the best possible recovery environment with Sungard AS. Sungard AS, for instance, offered a 100 percent virtualized production environment with VMware, the Cloud and virtualization software from VMware Inc. At the same time, tier one, two and three storage was being replaced by NetApp Inc.’s innovative storage and data management solution. Sungard AS had expertise with both VMware and NetApp.

“Sungard AS could provide everything Savanna needed, and no one else could match it on a technical level,” says Clarke. That proved to be the deciding factor.

Clarke presented his backup recommendation to Savanna President and CEO Ken Mullen and his executive team. In the process, it became apparent the company didn’t have a formal disaster recovery plan. “That set off some alarms,” says Clarke. He laid out the options, with the presentation centered on the Sungard AS technology he could leverage. The Sungard AS option proved a “very good fit” based on technology and price, Clarke says.

“That was good because some people consider Sungard AS quite expensive, but I challenge them to go through the process and look at all the costs for disaster recovery. I think you’ll find Sungard AS to be one of the best priced out there.”

Clarke found one other consideration in Sungard AS’ favor: it was the only vendor that gave him quick and professional answers to every question he asked. “What we heard repeatedly from competitors was, ‘We’ll have to get back to you.’”

Partnering for business solutions

The upshot? Savanna’s president approved the recovery services project. But based on concerns that the company didn’t have a strong disaster recovery plan, he set an earlier-than-planned deadline to get the new services in place.
A September-October timeframe became a shorter mid-July date but, with a very smooth migration, Savanna’s full production environment moved to Sungard AS right on time.

Savanna ran its disaster recovery test simulation August 1 from its training room in Calgary. “Sungard AS was able to meet deadlines that were extremely aggressive,” Clarke says. “I didn’t think it was possible, but it was.”

A disaster strikes Calgary

Then a real disaster struck. June 2013 floods in Calgary caused heavy damage and destruction. Clarke was in Phoenix when one of his IT professionals told him Calgary was going to be under water from heavy rains. The data center escaped flooding, but Sungard AS was prepared to switch to its backup facility in eastern Canada, if necessary.

Savanna’s main office in downtown Calgary was dark for 14 hours with zero connectivity from Friday to Saturday. “Now if something happens in Calgary, we’re OK,” the infrastructure manager emphasizes.

Annual testing of the system will ensure that all processes are in place, and that the company’s disaster recovery procedures are still correct. Savanna is considering putting a data center in the Houston area next year. Since Sungard AS is based in the U.S., this will help geographically in establishing its data center away from the main operation.


Lessons learned? Clarke offers the following:

  • Locate your backup data facility in another region from your main data center for safety and security purposes.
  • Look for other examples of successful data restorations after a disaster and the timeframes achieved in restoring the data.
  • Be mindful when choosing a disaster recovery host to check on the process for migrating data to the disaster recovery center and back.
  • Don’t use tape as a backup.

By using the Sungard AS disaster recovery data center, Savanna was able to employ technologies such as R2C-SRM Recover2Cloud — Site Recovery Manager with VMWare and Managed Vaulting for NetApp. This helped the company manage the protection, secure movement and recovery of critical application data between its environment and that of Sungard AS.

Savanna Energy Services Corp. is ideally positioned for growth and expansion, knowing full well that its data is protected from future disasters with Sungard AS.

Partnering with Sungard AS

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