[ISN] Computer recovery companies go to work

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Sep 12 2001 - 22:49:03 PDT

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    By Stephen Shankland
    Staff Writer, CNET News.com 
    September 12, 2001, 3:35 p.m. PT 
    "The first call came in at 9:05 (a.m.) Eastern time," just a few
    minutes after the first plane struck the north tower of the 110-story
    World Trade Center on Tuesday, Comdisco spokesman Rich Maganini said
    Wednesday. "The calls came in almost one after the other right after
    "By midday, we had 25 disaster declarations. We are currently
    supporting 35 customers, many of which either had operations in the
    World Trade Center or in nearby buildings," Maganini said. So far, 30
    of those companies--the "vast majority" in New York but some affected
    by evacuations in Chicago's Sears Tower and elsewhere--have begun
    using 13 Comdisco computing facilities, he said.
    Disaster-recovery companies such as Comdisco specialize in helping
    customers prepare for cataclysmic events like floods, fires,
    earthquakes, wars--or terrorist attacks. They offer clients basic
    services such as room to bring backup data and set up operations to
    more sophisticated and expensive "mirroring" in which remote computers
    simultaneously run the same operations as a company's primary
    SunGard, a competitor that is attempting to acquire Comdisco, also has
    begun working with affected customers, with about 750 employees
    dealing with consequences of Tuesday's attacks. Fourteen of SunGard's
    customers have declared a disaster and 68 more are on alert, said Dave
    Palermo, vice president of marketing. SunGard offers everything from
    mainframes to offices with PCs and phones.
    "At about 8:54 (a.m. EDT Tuesday), just minutes after the first plane
    hit, our crisis team began calling customers in the financial
    district," Palermo said. "Some people are in our facilities now, and
    some are trying to make their way out of the city to get there."
    While the human tragedy of the attack on the World Trade Center and
    Pentagon is staggering, from a computing perspective there have been
    more devastating disasters. With Hurricane Floyd in 1999, 26 companies
    had to declare a disaster.
    SunGard has 26 facilities around the country with more than a million
    square feet of floor space. It has desktop computers ready to go, but
    through agreements with PC manufacturers the company can quickly have
    thousands more delivered, Palermo said. "We're nowhere near capacity
    at this point," he said.
    Consulting firm EDS also is helping about a dozen companies deal with
    the attack, including a financial services company whose operations
    are being moved to New Jersey, said Rebecca Whitener, director of
    security and privacy services.
    Financial services company Morgan Stanley, with 3,700 employees
    working in the south World Trade Center tower, is one company that
    must deal with Monday's collapse of the buildings.
    Redundant computer systems--which kick in when the main systems go
    down--worked as planned and no client or trade information was lost,
    according to a company memo seen by CNET News.com. Morgan Stanley
    could not be immediately reached for comment.
    SunGard isn't able to accept new customers affected by the attack,
    Palermo said, but other companies are offering discounts or free
    services to those affected by the attack.
    Cervalis, which houses customers' computing operations in its two data
    centers, also is offering discounted services, said Zack Margolis,
    vice president of marketing and business development.
    "Right now we can offer immediate services to companies that need to
    re-establish employee and customer communications or other information
    technology infrastructure," Margolis said. Cervalis is offering free
    consulting services and a first month free for companies that want to
    use its data centers, he said.
    OnTrack Data International, a company that recovers data from damaged
    hard disks or tapes, is changing its pricing rules for those affected
    by Tuesday's attacks, said Greg Olson, senior director of data
    "It's not going to cost the customer anything to have us take a look
    at the system," and the company will charge less than the market rate
    of $1,000 to $1,500 per hard disk for data recovery, he said. "We are
    certainly here to help as much as we possibly can."
    OnTrack recovers data from about 25,000 hard disks each year and
    currently is working on thousands of storage systems recovered from
    Texas floods earlier this year. Most of the company's work is from
    hardware or software failure or human error, but about 3 percent comes
    from natural disasters.
    Several computer companies, including IBM, Sun Microsystems and
    Hewlett-Packard, also offer disaster-recovery services.
    Sun Microsystems, which has many customers in the financial district
    of New York, primarily offers planning services rather than
    disaster-recovery services, said Kevin Coyne, director for enterprise
    services. But the server seller is talking to customers, preparing
    lists of equipment that needs to be replaced and is contacting
    partners who handle disaster recovery work, he said.
    "The main thing now is assessing what the needs are and making sure we
    can provide equipment," Coyne said.
    While invaluable following a man-made or natural disaster, recovery
    services can be very expensive, especially when customers require that
    computer systems be available without delay after an incident. "Costs
    can go up dramatically as you move toward higher-availability
    requirements," Coyne said. But often the price tag can be worth it.
    "A lot of times, customers are finding that losses of $100,000 or $1
    million per hour quickly justify the cost of a replicated site," he
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