The war in Ukraine demonstrates the true meaning of corporate resilience

VMware has helped customers move 1435 TB of data outside of Ukraine to safer locations. These include some of the country’s largest banks, public institutions, energy and utility companies, and Fozzy Group – one of Ukraine’s largest retailers.

It’s common for business leaders to talk about agility, or the importance of business resiliency, or the wisdom of a disaster recovery plan. It is different to hear these issues against the background of the war.

Fozzy Group is one of the largest industrial companies in Ukraine. His Silpo brand is also one of the largest and most well-known retailers in the country. In the last year it has become a major distributor of food, medicine and humanitarian aid. This is what a resilient, agile company looks like.

A triumph of supply chain management

On February 24, 2022, Russia launched an all-out invasion. It quickly overran large parts of southern and eastern Ukraine, resulting in the displacement of nearly eight million people. Despite a successful counter-offensive in autumn, large parts of Ukraine remain occupied.

Fozzy Group, like others, was badly affected. It lost $75 million worth of goods and assets due to looting and destruction of its facilities. About $30 million of investments made in 2021 were destroyed. Before the war, the Fozzy Group had around 750 retail stores nationwide. Today 87 stores are closed or abandoned due to active military action or Russian occupation. That 646 remain open and filled is a small miracle. Even more impressively, around 100 shops have reopened in the area recently liberated from Ukrainian forces.

“War is one of those situations you can’t be prepared for. It is a humanitarian catastrophe that has hit our country. Fozzy Group is struggling to open and supply as many stores as possible,” said Ivan Slavioglo, VP of IT, Fozzy Group.

In a triumph of supply chain management, Fozzy stores continue to stock international merchandise. Before the invasion, his shops stocked goods from 185 local craft suppliers; 132 are still on the shelves today. Online retail, which paused in February and March, has resumed.

Aside from retail, Fozzy Group has donated more than 1,300 tons of food and basic necessities to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, hospitals and orphanages. Almost 500 tons of foreign aid were stored and distributed through its warehouses.

“Our employees work day and night at great risk to provide all the basic supplies needed for our civilians. We adapted quickly.”

Ivan Slavioglo, Vice President of IT, Fozzy Group

Making sure families have food

The deal caught on because Fozzy Group made it their mission. It also required a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes, including using a cloud-based disaster recovery (DR) solution.

Given the high possibility of their Ukrainian data centers being attacked by Russia, Fozzy Group quickly realized they needed to replicate their data and apps outside of the country and have the option of extremely fast recovery if needed. The modern reality is that stocked shelves rely on a complex supply chain and logistics system. No IT infrastructure, no deliveries.

“It wasn’t a theoretical risk, it was a real risk,” says Slavioglo. “Besides, on a human level, our own people had their own obligations. IT professionals are in short supply.”

Within weeks of the start of the war, Fozzy Group deployed VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery and replicated all critical data and servers to the cloud. Today it has 2,000 VMs and 400,500 TB in the cloud. “Nearly 80 percent of the services are now virtualized. We also have some monolithic enterprise applications that are covered by VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery without the need for refactoring,” explains Slavioglo.

This means if the company’s data centers suffer physical failures or cyberattacks, the company can instantly power on the virtual instances in an isolated recovery environment and resume operations very quickly.

Of course, Slavioglo prefers to draw attention elsewhere. In Kyiv, Silpo bakeries have been working around the clock to bring fresh bread to the city; in Kharkiv, supermarkets gave up space for displaced people.

“We have made it our mission to ensure that Ukrainian families have enough food on the table every day,” he says. “We are eternally grateful to all the companies, government and non-profit organizations that are helping Ukrainians survive this war.”

About the Fozzy Group

Fozzy Group is one of the largest retail industry groups in Ukraine and one of the leading Ukrainian retailers with over 700 stores across the country. In addition to retail, the group has business interests in food production, banking, IT, logistics and hospitality.

About VMware

VMware is a leading provider of multi-cloud services for all applications, enabling digital innovation with enterprise control. A trusted foundation for accelerating innovation, VMware software gives organizations the flexibility and choice they need to build the future. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, VMware is committed to building a better tomorrow with the company’s 2030 Agenda. For more information, see www.vmware.com/company.

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