IT Operations Management (ITOM)

Sungard AS + Data Center Automation. Conversations with a customer.

Sungard AS + Data Center Automation. Conversations with a customer.



Our blog guest today is Kaushik Ray, VP of Global Operations & Architecture at Sungard Availability Systems. Sungard AS delivers business continuity, information security, IT disaster recovery, and cloud systems that are fully integrated and responsive.

We discuss automation as a differentiator and an enabler and the importance of building solutions for the real, hybrid IT world. Also, the benefits of touch-free automation, how Sungard AS reduced recovery from 20 hours to 2 hours, and advice for companies starting their journey. And if automation could talk, what might it just say?


SS: Tell us about Sungard Availabilty Services (Sungard AS).

KR: Sungard Availability Services partners with customers around the globe to understand their unique business needs and provide production and recovery services tailored to help them achieve their desired business outcomes. We apply our deep expertise and experience in disaster recovery to design, build and run production environments that are resilient and available in the present, and positioned for growth in the future.

SS: What does automation mean to you?

sungard.JPGKR: Automation is an enabler, a differentiator, an accelerator for us.  We have to automate to make sure we are always consistent in our quality of delivery, that we are scalable in how we run our business and that we remain aggressively cost competitive. One can differentiate in many different ways and one way is through delivery. If we can use automation to increase the speed, accuracy, and quality of our delivery, then we have differentiated. For example, my team developed a patent-pending solution that automates 90% of recovery execution in a hybrid IT environment for our enterprise customers. We created a technology-agnostic solution that works across infrastructure types, without customers having to change their underlying technology. We believe this end-to-end orchestration/automation-oriented innovation will prove to be a major differentiator for Sungard AS in terms of superior customer delivery and it will help us be more cost competitive.  

SS: Thinking back across automation projects, what was one of the biggest challenges to overcome?

KR: Specific to recovery, one challenge is keeping up with the exponential change in today’s IT environment. If you are a start-up, the starting point is “everything is in the cloud” and everything is virtualized, then it’s fairly simple to replicate the environment. The challenge is more evident with Fortune 50-500 companies, our core customers. They operate diverse legacy environments, where not all workloads are virtualized or cloud-ready and some still maintain workloads on mainframe environments that can only be dealt with manually.

SS: You’ve implemented HPE Universal Configuration Management Database (UCMD) and HPE Data Center Automation server automation and operations orchestration solutions. Can you describe the deployment?

KR: Using HPE UCMBD, we map customers’ entire IT production environment, in literally a matter of weeks. Our proprietary program reads the IT blue-print stored in the discovery tool and dynamically reverse engineers the DR (disaster recovery) procedures, which are then passed to HPE’s orchestration engine for end-to-end automation. We have 120,000 hosts in our configuration database, likely one of the largest and most complex in the world. We have discovery data for over 200 customers and more than 360 workflows. 

SS: What made you choose HPE?

KR:  We started with UCMBD. There were only two companies that could handle what we required: capture and store the blue-print of customers’ entire IT landscape, across OSI layers, servers, applications, storage, and network. One of the companies was HPE. The HPE solution offered multi-tenancy which was a critical requirement for us as our customers need to access their own data in a very secure way.  In addition, discovery patterns with the HPE solution proved to be more efficient. Finally, and of equal importance was the human element. With a program of this scale, it’s never all about the technology.  We developed tremendous trust with the HPE Professional Services team. To give you an idea, in a span of just two years, we discovered and mapped the IT environment of 150 customers. We couldn’t have done it by ourselves. We relied on partnership with HPE Professional Services to make it happen. Our relationship with HPE is a real-life example of true synergy, where we integrated HPE automation and orchestration software with custom developed enhancements to fill the unaddressed requirements (our proprietary program) and ended up with a significantly more comprehensive solution that drives real business outcomes. 

SS: You’ve passed on a lot of benefits to your clients. How specifically do you quantify these benefits? 

KR:  Our DR Service program is 90% automated, everything from discovery to lifecycle management. Recovery that used to take about 20 hours now only takes 2 hours. We’ve reduced recovery time by 60% to 65%. Our DR testing success rate is 94%, 2.5 times above the industry average according to the 2016 Gartner report. This all means that our clients can get back into business faster and minimize their revenue loss.

SS: What’s the feedback from customers?

KR: Typically, our customers tell us, “We’ve been trying to do DR over a decade and were not successful. For the first time, you have proven that we are recoverable, and we have confidence that our business can continue in the face of disaster.”

SS: What advice would you give to companies starting their automation journey, or the next phase of their automation?

KR: First, product selection for automation is important. Ask, “What’s the original intention of the tool?” When I evaluate an automation product, I always dig into the original benefit the product was built to deliver, because it will be the best suited for that core functionality.  Second, in today’s world, it’s all about time to market. You don’t get multiple chances at success, especially if you are a service provider. Don’t try to do it yourself. Yes, it may seem at the outset that it will cost more, but remember: your objective should be to get there faster and to get there right the first time. That’s why we leveraged HPE’s Professional Services. Third, understand reality … and reality is that customers still have mainframes and physical machines. You have to accept that much of the world is still hybrid IT-centric and you have to actually build something designed for hybrid IT environments. That’s precisely what we did – we created a technology-agnostic DR solution that works in the real (hybrid IT) world.

SS: Have you fully exploited all that automation has to offer?

KR: I don’t think in these terms. It’s not about automation, it’s about the business.

SS: Fair point, so let me ask another way. If automation could talk, what would it say?

KR: “Identify your business problem, and I will help you find a solution.” It’s not a solution finding a problem, rather a problem finding a solution.  When I identify the business problem, I can conjure the conceptual solution, and then seek ways to bring that concept to life through automation.

SS: Thanks a lot Kaushik! One last question. Where do you see infrastructure management going next? What does the future hold?

We need to build solutions that work for hybrid IT. Customers should not have to interact differently and use different tools with different infrastructure types i.e. across physical vs. cloud resources. The customer should interact with infrastructure types in the same exact way. There has to be an abstraction layer which makes it seamless to request and consume infrastructure, no matter if it is physical, virtual, or cloud. Akin to the paradigm of digitization - the human should not have to learn new ways to interact with the digital world. The digital world has to make it intuitive for the human to interact with it.

Watch Kaushik discuss how HPE DCA helped Sungard AS transform data recovery, and download the case study.

Visit the HPE Data Center Automation website to learn more about the DCA Suite.

Interested in more conversations with customers?

Automation Logic + Data Center Automation

  • infrastructure management
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About the Author


Sibel is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at HPE Software