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IT focus turns to disaster recovery

Computerworld

By Mark Hall and Lucas Mearian

(IDG) -- Disaster recovery became a national priority Tuesday morning, with IT operations a top priority at many companies outside the New York and Washington target areas.

In an apparently coordinated terrorist attack against the United States, four commercial passenger jets crashed on Tuesday, three of them into significant landmarks, including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

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Boeing Co. spokesman Robert Jorgensen said the company's disaster recovery centers have opened and are fully manned. Representatives from IT and other company operations can call in to an open toll-free phone line on regular intervals to assure that systems are working. The Chicago-based aerospace giant had just completed a full test of the system two weeks ago.

"We always have the pilot on, but now we've turned on the front burner," he said.

Rick Bernard, CIO at Infinium in Hyannis, Mass., said the application service provider has had no disruption of operations, including service to users in New York.

At some secure government facilities, tensions are running high, but business continues. At Lawrence Livermore National Labs in Livermore, Calif., spokesman David Schwoegler said, "We're open, but have no reason to think that this Lab or its employees have been targeted."

Peter Dorogoff, a spokesman for MSNBC said the MSNBC news operation went into crisis mode and implemented its "light system," stripping off advertising and lessening graphics on its Web site to accommodate the tremendous amount of traffic from people trying to access the site. MSNBC also moved users' personalized news to a separate page because of the high volume of traffic at its main site.

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However, Dorogoff said traffic is not a priority.

"There's no panic here," he said. "We want to get the news out, and from all indications the site is handling the load."

Elizabeth Barry, a spokeswoman for CNN in Atlanta said the same thing.

She said the Web site remained accessible and CNN continued to publish content. The news operation increased server capacity and took down its regular site, chosing instead to post only information about the attack. Barry said organizations around the world were contacting CNN offering bandwith.

Search engine Web site Google, however, urged viewers to tune in to TV and radio for the latest news. It posted a statement online that said: "If you are looking for news, you will find the most current information on TV or radio. Many online news services are not available, because of extremely high demand."

At FedEx Corp. spokesman Jess Bunn said the company is tracking its planes through its Global Operations Control Center in Memphis and knows where all of its planes are. He said FedEx is currently updating its customer information at FedEx.com. He said all the company's IT systems are operating normally.

Jorgensen said, "IT assets are among the most critical areas for protection during an emergency, especially these days."

Boeing dedicated fully half of its disaster recovery operations to computer systems, focusing on design data, engineering drawings and company information.

In New York, Mike Bogan, director of infrastructure at Wall Street brokerage Blackwood Trading LLC, said if he hadn't seen the attack, he wouldn't have known it happened.

Trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market continued without a glitch for an hour and a half after the disaster, and Bogan's company completed more than a half-million trades before the Nasdaq voluntarily shut down.

"All of our back-end software monitors the band utilization of every T-1 line we have. There wasn't a single glitch," Bogan said.

Though Blackwood Trading's data center is located at 100 Wall St., the firm mirrors all trade data to remote centers in Jersey City, N.J., which is on a separate power grid from Manhattan.

"It's days like this that having triple redundancy actually means something. We have a few physical locations for backup in case of terrorist attacks and acts of God," said Bogan.

As he spoke, Bogan said he could see two huge plumes of smoke and dust drifting from the Trade Center debris and over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Blackwood's telecommunication lines run directly to Verizon's routing center in Newark, N.J. and not through the World Trade Center, which arguably had the densest fiber-optic network in the world.

Across the country, in Sacramento, Calif., Ytesh Mishra, chief technology officer for RagingWire Telecommunications Inc., which specializes in high security online data services said: "We are experiencing some congestion on the Internet, but direct customer lines to customers remain open." He said all customers have been contacted and all network operations are "within spec."

In Atlanta, Jeff Battcher, director of corporate communications at Bell South, said his company increased the physical security at all data and telecommunications facilities in the nine states in which they operate.





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