Sunkist Growers, Inc. turns to KeyInfo for Disaster Recovery as a Service

Sunkist Case Study


Sunkist Growers, Inc., is a not-for-profit marketing cooperative, based in Valencia, Calif., that is owned and operated by thousands of California and Arizona citrus growers who make up its membership. Steady growth over the past decade has raised Sunkist’s annual sales to $1 billion. The cooperative’s IT organization has kept pace with rising demand through a virtualized, highly redundant infrastructure supporting business-critical applications, including Sunkist’s Fresh Fruit Marketing System. However, the disaster recovery (DR) methodology - still relying on tape backup and restore - had not kept pace. Aiming to modernize its DR capabilities and offload the management burden, Sunkist turned to its long-time services provider Key Information Systems (KeyInfo).

Sunkist is the largest citrus cooperative in the world, marketing millions of cartons and premium fresh citrus internationally each year to 40 countries. Like any business, Sunkist must keep the wheels of demand and supply moving in tandem. Unlike most businesses, in the fresh produce industry what we sell is vulnerable to spoilage; fruit must not sit on docks waiting to ship. Sunkist’s key application therefore is its Fresh Fruit Marketing System, built on PR3 supply chain management software from Prophet. The application is used mainly by sales and shipping personnel, who log in through Sunkist’s virtual desktop infrastructure to place, ship, track, and receive orders. Another key application is Sunkist’s Microsoft Navision financial system.


Sunkist was migrating the Fresh Fruit Marketing application from its 25-yearold legacy platform to a new Microsoft Windows SQL platform. Along with this upgrade, Sunkist wanted to strengthen its overall recovery capabilities and bring all network resources - including Microsoft SharePoint, file servers, and fax servers - under the fast-recovery umbrella.

“Our production systems had probably doubled in size, but our disaster recovery methodology had remained stagnant,” says Don Conley, network infrastructure manager at Sunkist. “We were doing the same things we did in the 1990s - backup to tape and disk, with a very manual recovery process.”

Sunkist employs two audit teams each requiring annual disaster recovery testing, but with just two systems engineers and two helpdesk people on his staff - and each test taking days to set up and run - Conley’s team could not keep up. Yet disaster recovery remained a concern. Conley had lived through California earthquakes and thought about what might potentially happen in case a disaster struck. If the main Sunkist data center in California went down and Conley jumped into a car right away, it would take him eight hours to get to the Arizona site to start restoring services. Most likely, he’d be the only person going - not his IT staff members with young children to think about. Conley wanted a better solution. He wanted the ability to recover everything on the network, from business-critical systems down to fax servers, without restraints on CPU, storage, or manpower - and without Sunkist having to buy or maintain its own hardware. So, Conley turned to Sunkist’s trusted service provider KeyInfo.


Based in Agoura Hills, Calif., KeyInfo is an infrastructure technology company and an HPE Silver Business Partner that offers advanced networking and hybrid cloud solutions. Sunkist had started using KeyInfo colocation services in 2012, and the relationship over time expanded to encompass connectivity and now KeyInfo Cloud Services. “KeyInfo has been much more of a partner than a just a colocation site,” Conley says. “They show interest in us - call us, invite us to seminars and events. The president of KeyInfo even came out to meet us. That makes us feel good about them. They’re like an extension of my IT staff.”

KeyInfo Cloud Services - Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) and Backup and Recovery as a Service (BRaaS) - transform Sunkist’s DR capabilities in ways the internal staff could not have achieved alone. “None of us is a disaster recovery expert,” Conley says.

“KeyInfo walked us through what a correct disaster recovery program looks like, how to set Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO), basically took us by the hand and guided us through the entire process. We could not have done it without them.”

To architect an optimized solution, the project started with a thorough review of Sunkist’s environment and requirements. “It was a consultative process,” recalls Clayton Weise, KeyInfo’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. If you start from backup and do traditional recovery, you’re essentially rebuilding the environment from scratch. 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, looked at the networking design and implementation of routing protocols. We put together recovery scripts to automate the process.”

A key advantage KeyInfo brought was the ability to customize the solution to Sunkist’s performance and cost requirements. Not every application is business-critical, in need of the fastest and most costly recovery. KeyInfo therefore does not implement onesize-fits-all-solutions, but rather uses multiple tools to meet each application tier’s RTO and RPO requirements. “They got very granular with it, to meet our needs as cost-efficiently as possible,” Conley says. “We have three different sets of tools on the Windows side: Zerto, Panzura, and Veeam.”

KeyInfo houses its Cloud solution in colocation facilities from Switch, a global technology infrastructure company whose core business is the design, construction and operation of ultra-advanced data centers, enabling the most powerful technology ecosystems on the planet.

Underlying the KeyInfo DRaaS and BRaaS solutions are HPE infrastructure components: HPE Apollo 2000 Systems with HPE ProLiant XL170 Servers; HPE ProLiant DL360 Servers; HPE ProLiant DL380 Servers; HPE 3PAR StoreServ 8440 Storage; and HPE Altoline switches. Sunkist also uses HPE in its KeyInfo colocation site. “We are an HPE shop,” Conley says. “All of our server hardware is HPE. We really like how they perform.”

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