In this article

  • Time is of the essence when keeping fruit fresh and Sunkist needed a modern disaster-recovery solution to get the organization up and running before the fruit would spoil and money or customers were lost
  • To keep costs and management time low, Sunkist turned to Key Info to maintain infrastructure for its DR site using HPE solutions
Key Info automates Sunkist recovery process using HPE 3PAR storage, HPE ProLiant servers and HPE Altoline switches

Sunkist Growers Inc.’s previous disaster recovery plan could be summed in a single sentence: Have the IT manager jump in his car and drive eight hours to Arizona.

With Sunkist’s headquarters located in earthquake- and fire-prone California, a large-scale disaster was a reasonable possibility. The recovery site was in another state, and the IT manager had to drive to that location and manually start the restore process if the main Sunkist data center went down — while the business was basically at a standstill. The rest of the plan was also outdated — keeping the business running by taking orders by hand until the network was up and running. And even then, the restoration only returned to the previous night’s backup, so staff had to manually enter everything in between.

Time Sensitive Products Make Recovery Time a Priority

As a not-for-profit marketing cooperative owned and operated by California and Arizona citrus growers, Sunkist Growers ships and markets millions of cartons of premium citrus to locations throughout the U.S. and 40 countries. The past decade had brought tremendous growth with annual sales rising to over $1 billion. And the organization had easily handled the volume with its virtualized, highly redundant infrastructure supporting business-critical applications — a stark contrast to its backup plan of tape and disk.

But time isn’t a luxury Sunkist could afford. If its product — fresh fruit — sat on a dock in the hot sun while the IT manager took a road trip, the fruit would spoil and the organization would lose both money and customers. This meant that restoring Sunkist’s Fresh Fruit Marketing System, which handled orders, tracking, shipments, and receiving, was a top priority along with its financial application.

Upgrading to a Modern Backup and Recovery System

Sunkist turned to its long-time services provider Key Information Systems (Key Info) to create a modern disaster-recovery solution using its KeyCloud Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) and Backup and Recovery as a Service (BRaaS). Don Conley, network infrastructure manager at Sunkist, wanted to be able to recover everything on the network — from business-critical systems like Fresh Fruit Marketing, down to the fax servers — without restraints on CPU, storage, or manpower. To keep costs and management time low, Sunkist did not want to buy or maintain its own infrastructure for the DR site.

Because Key Info does not believe in one-size-fits-all solutions, the company worked closely with Sunkist to understand the environment, clarify the requirements, and write scripts to automate the recovery using Sunkist’s Hewlett Packard Enterprise infrastructure components, including HPE 3PAR storage, HPE ProLiant Servers and HPE Altoline switches.

“It was a consultative process,” recalls Clayton Weise, Key Info’s director of cloud services. “We sat down, and helped them map out their environment, properly documenting their application tiering, and went through the logistics of what the entire recovery process would look like, including utilizing security and performance optimization features provided by 3PAR storage. To accelerate recovery, you automate and orchestrate as much as possible. That means you do a lot of the work upfront, in the planning stage. We had whiteboard sessions, mapped out applications and dependencies, and looked at the networking design and implementation of routing protocols. We put together recovery scripts to automate the process.”

Reducing Restore Time from 4 Hours to 15 Minutes

The Key Info services cost roughly the same as what Sunkist had paid for its old, severely limited and resource hungry DR solution. Because Sunkist no longer buys and maintains the equipment or employees onsite at the recovery center, the organization has seen significant overall cost savings in the long term.

Additionally, the recovery time has dramatically improved for its Fresh Fruit Marketing System, from 4 hours to 15 minutes — not counting for eliminating the need for an 8-hour road trip. Even better — the new backup restores data from as soon as 15 minutes ago instead of the night before, which means no more manual data entry.  Leveraging advanced features in HPE 3PAR such as virtual domains, adaptive flash cache and adaptive optimization allows Key Info to provide peace of mind for Sunkist, ensuring both data security and storage performance in a multi-tenant environment.

Because the IT staff no longer maintains infrastructure, the team has time to focus on business initiatives. The current project — an idea from the corporate treasurer that may save hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

“Sunkist is completely virtualized in its production environment; they can grow resources as needed. In contrast, its DR environment was based on an older style of restoring from backups onto machines that are in place. Now with Key Info Cloud Services, they can scale dynamically based on their needs,” says Weise.

To read more about how Key Info is helping Sunkist and other businesses with their disaster recovery methodology, visit www.keyinfo.com.