Dodging Data Disaster in 3 Steps: A Cautionary Tale

September 3, 2019

When transportation company A&R Logistics began experiencing unexplainable, catastrophic power problems in its Chicago-area data center, the stakes were high.

With a nationwide fleet of 800 trucks, 1,200 trailers, 23 terminals and ten warehousing facilities, A&R, a leading provider of dry bulk transportation, has 750 drivers on the road at any given time, from coast to coast. If drivers don’t know which products to deliver, and where and when to deliver them, global petrochemical companies (A&R’s main customer base) can be forced to shut down for hours or longer. “When that happens, we don’t typically get a second chance,” says Rick Blanchard, A&R’s vice president of technology.

On a mission to grow quickly with no downtime, the last thing A&R needed was downtime. To provide uninterrupted service for customers, A&R needed to fail over their production IT environment to a high-performance disaster recovery infrastructure – and fast.

A&R Logistics began planning to failback to their original production environment but the power problems in their data center persisted, so the company partnered with Flexential, who proposed to recreate A&R’s production environment at a Flexential colocation facility in Louisville, near A&R’s Kentucky headquarters.

“Flexential picked up the server hardware needed for recreation, drove it to the backup environment and had it set up by Monday morning,” said Blanchard. And within six months? Flexential had:

  • recovered its operations to a DR infrastructure using Flexential Recovery Cloud
  • reestablished its production IT in a Flexential colocation facility
  • implemented a permanent disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) solution

According to Blanchard, Flexential accomplished in six months what would have tough for the transportation provider to accomplish in 14-16 months.

While A&R Logistics is (still) enjoying a happy ending, Blanchard points out that a company shouldn’t wait for a crisis to engage with a partner like Flexential. “I’ve worked at other companies where we wanted to go to the cloud for production or disaster recovery, and we didn’t. We decided that either we didn’t have the resources to do it, or we just didn’t know the next steps to take.”

The Bottom Line

Don’t wait till disaster strikes to implement a disaster recovery plan. That could include partnering with a qualified DRaaS provider who can work with you to assess your infrastructure’s vulnerability and ensure successful deployment, maintenance and execution.

If you are working with a DR service provider:

  1. Make sure you review and understand any time constraints when transitioning your environment back to its original site.
  2. Identify and communicate specifically who is responsible for which steps – ahead of time. Don’t assume a critical task is covered by your service provider.
  3. Test. Test. And test again.

Choosing your partners as well as planning for your future are two things you can do today to help in case of disaster in the future.

Craig Cook, Flexential

Craig Cook

SVP, Solutions Architecture and Engineering

As SVP of Solutions Architecture & Engineering at Flexential, Craig understands the challenges that Flexential customers face and designs solutions to solve their ever-evolving business problems.

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