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Volume 32, Issue 1

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After delivering only a glancing blow to Florida and Georgia, Hurricane Floyd slammed into North Carolina, causing that state's costliest natural disaster, and then moved up the East Coast, dumping heavy rain as it went.

Once deemed a Category 4 storm with winds of 155 miles per hour, Hurricane Floyd hit the Carolina coast on September 16 with winds of 115 miles per hour. The storm then proceeded through Virginia, New Jersey and parts of New York dumping up to 20 inches of rain on the region, causing "500-year" floods in some areas.

Altogether, Hurricane Floyd killed at least 69 people from the Bahamas to New England.

Hurricane Floyd was massive in size - at one point it covered more than 700 miles. After the storm passed through the Bahamas, it was feared it would head toward the Florida or Georgia coast, but these states felt little more than light rain and winds as the hurricane took a turn to the north.

Overall, hundreds of thousands of residents were evacuated from the coasts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The massive evacuations filled highways and packed shelters while residents waited for word on Hurricane Floyd's path.

Eventually, the hurricane's eye hit landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina. With damage in that state expected to surpass the $6 billion caused by Hurricane Fran in 1996, President Clinton declared the eastern two-thirds of North Carolina a disaster area.

The Tar River at Tarboro, about 20 miles northwest of Greenville, NC, rose to a record high of 43 feet. The old record was 34 feet, set in 1919. North Carolina's Neuse River rose more than 12 feet above flood level.

North Carolina agricultural officials estimated that more than 1 million poultry and 110,000 hogs were killed by flooding. Health risks were one of the greatest fears as thousands of decaying animals and waste floated through the flood waters.

Many cities along the East Coast lost power and had water supplies cut off because of the flooding.

In Rochelle Park, N.J., an AT&T switching center was destroyed by flood waters, making communications difficult until accounts could be moved to a different switching center.

Across North Carolina, about 300 roads, including parts of Interstates 95 and 40, were closed for several days.

As the storm moved toward the New England states, Floyd was downgraded to a tropical storm, packing winds of less than 74 miles per hour. Still, residents were weary of Floyd's potential. Schools throughout New Jersey, Maryland, New York City and Philadelphia were closed. Many businesses closed early and airports along the East Coast canceled hundreds of flights. Amtrak suspended all train service south of Washington.

The storm dropped up to 12 inches of rain in Philadelphia and 11 inches in Annapolis, Maryland. Other areas also received heavy downpours.

Floyd eventually was downgraded into a tropical depression as it moved eastward into the ocean. In its wake, cleanup efforts began throughout the east coast. The Pentagon said 8000 members of the National Guard in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia were helping communities recover from Floyd. The Red Cross estimates $25 million will be needed for the recovery efforts from the storm's damage.

Janette Ballman is a Senior Editor with Disaster Recovery Journal.


SunGard Recovery Services Helps 22 Major Firms Along East Coast
by: Judith Eckles

It rained. And it stormed. The wind blew furiously. And it kept raining. And raining. Then, the waters rose.

This was life in September up and down much of the East Coast, due to Hurricane Floyd. In all, the damage from the storm is expected to surpass the $6 billion inflicted by Hurricane Fran just three years before. Homes were destroyed or heavily damaged by the storm; companies were forced to rely on contingency planning to stay in business.

At the corporate headquarters of a national restaurant chain in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the waters rose past the front door. The company's data center was submerged by the floodwaters generated by Hurricane Floyd. "I will never forget that feeling as long as I live," said the disaster recovery coordinator. "The only way I could get to the building was by rowboat."

This North Carolina company owns and operates a system of approximately 2,900 company and franchise-owned quick-service restaurants in 34 states in the U.S. and 11 other countries. Data from the restaurants nationwide routinely flows into the corporate headquarters, enabling the company to track sales, allocate resources and anticipate trends. The loss of that data for even a day would have meant the loss of millions of dollars in vital information.

It turned out okay, however, for this company and 21 other major firms along the East Coast. They are customers of SunGard Recovery Services Inc. (SunGard), and relied on the company to help them implement business continuity plans that had been developed far in advance of Hurricane Floyd.

The range of disasters reported to SunGard headquarters ran the full gamut:

* In south Florida, more than three million people were evacuated, as officials warned against the "storm of the century." Ten SunGard subscribers were forced to close their doors; their systems became inaccessible. As it turned out, Floyd bypassed the area, but the facilities were still shuttered, because of fears of a monster hurricane. And despite the evacuation, those firms needed to keep doing business, no matter what.

* For a regional bank in New Jersey, the problem wasn't the water. It was the lack of it. The bank suffered a loss of water pressure, and was effectively shut out of its data center. Customers still wanted access to their money and accounts; the bank had to find a way to allow them to get at both.

In each of the three cases outlined above, the affected companies turned to SunGard. At its MegaCenter in Philadelphia, the SunGard crisis management team began tracking the storm days before and resource allocation was well underway before Floyd made landfall. The needs of each company (and there were literally hundreds that put SunGard on alert) had to be quickly evaluated, and business continuity plans previously developed were put into action.

The workload included recoveries across multiple platforms: AS/400, RS 6000, HP, Sun, Tandem, Digital, IBM mainframe and more. The nature of the companies' demands ranged from access to the information stored on their mainframes, to recovering networks, to setting up the PCs needed to access the data, to redirecting voice systems.

"We've never had a situation quite this big," said SunGard's Dan Hamill, Senior Director, Operations. "The scope and the range of the firms that were coming to us far outpaced anything we had previously handled. We knew we had the capacity to easily handle the workload, but were bracing for it." Hamill estimates more than six terabytes of clients' data was handled daily by SunGard during the peak of the storm.

For the Florida companies that were forced to evacuate when it looked as if Floyd would score a direct hit on their state, relocation of key personnel to SunGard's facilities was mandated. The firms shut down their systems at their home offices; SunGard centers in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Jersey became their de facto nerve centers, until the "all clear" was received, enabling them to return home.

Workers at the New Jersey bank had it somewhat easier; it sent 25 workers to SunGard's MetroCenter to continue processing the data, allowing them to stay relatively close to home. The bank's processor, however, was recovered at a SunGard MegaCenter, with endusers accessing the system remotely.


The next generation of planning

Ironically, the success stories outlined above may become fewer over the next several years. It's not because there will be fewer disasters. It's because the nature, the need and the demand for data is rapidly becoming more constant. Where firms once routinely dictated a 24-to-48 hour recovery window for their mission-critical data, the rules have changed: now, windows of 24 to 48 minutes are demanded.

"Our dot.com world has changed everything," commented Jim Simmons, SunGard's Chief Executive Officer. "The ubiquitous nature of the Internet makes it imperative that 24 x 7 access is absolutely available. Companies that suffer downtime can see the losses increase by the second."

Simmons is right; a Standish Group report says companies that lose their ability to do business online suffer losses at the rate of $10,000 per minute. That's $14.4 million in one day. And that's not only lost business'it's the loss of goodwill among current and potential customers'a one-time loss that may directly translate to a more permanent loss.

For companies that are doing or planning to do the majority of their business online, traditional business continuity planning is largely regarded as yesterday's technology. They seek the so-called "holy grail of the five nines;" high availability that enables them to stay online and in business 99.99% of the time.

"This is where the industry is headed," Simmons commented. "In the very near future, the majority of companies will grow to depend on continuous access to their network and the data on it. The careful planning and strategy associated with business continuity will continue; but the focus will be on making sure we never have to get to that point."

Meanwhile, back in North Carolina, the immediate point faced by the restaurant chain was getting its systems back online. The DR Coordinator reflected on his decision to establish a relationship with SunGard Recovery Services. The company began working with SunGard years ago, long before Hurricane Floyd began its destructive trek toward North Carolina.

This recovery was been tougher than most of the Floyd related recoveries. Not only did they need to coordinate the recovery of the company's Digital processor at the SunGard MegaCenter, but they also had to work to get the data back up and online, since the data center was under water for several days. Multiple tape drives had to be replaced; other hardware issues needed to be addressed. And more data continued to flow in.

"You find yourself doing things you never thought you'd do," the DR Coordinator said. "I can tell you this, when I would hear about the hurricanes in Florida, or the fires in California or Oregon and the tornadoes in the Midwest, I always thought, 'boy, I'm glad I don't live there.' You always think it can't happen to you. But it can."

The pressure of today's business requires companies to think differently about how they approach the issues of disaster recovery and business continuity. Again, they will always be with us in some form. But the focus is rapidly evolving to a model that mandates the constant availability of systems.

Under this model, Hurricane Floyd and its successors become less of a major episode and more of a trigger. Floodwaters rising to engulf a data center will be regarded as an event that can be addressed within minutes. People affected by disasters, be they hurricanes, floods, or tornadoes, have enough issues to worry about; keeping their businesses up and running should not (and will not) be one of them.

SunGard Recovery Services is the business continuity unit of SunGard Data Systems Inc., the only large specialized provider of comprehensive computer disaster recovery. SunGard Recovery Services founded the disaster recovery industry in 1978 and provides business continuity services for all major computing platforms. Visit their website at http://recovery.sungard.com.



IBM Helps Companies During Hurricane Floyd

IBM said today it supported 46 customers to help them stay in business during the devastating rains and winds of Hurricane Floyd by providing business continuity and recovery services. The effort exceeded that of Hurricane Georges last year when IBM supported 31 companies, and brought to 139 the number of IBM customers helped during the past four hurricane seasons.

IBM Business Recovery Services (BRS) began tracking Hurricane Floyd six days prior to landfall from its Emergency Operation Center in Sterling Forest, NY. Working around the clock, IBM contacted its East Coast customers whose systems and operations were in potential danger of being hit by the storm and helped them implement business continuity plans.

During the hurricane, customers from many industries' including financial services, manufacturing, insurance, transportation and healthcare' relocated their critical business and IT operations to IBM recovery centers throughout the United States. These included IBM's major recovery centers in Sterling Forest, NY, Gaithersburg, MD, and Boulder, CO, as well as 14 regional centers in major U.S. cities.

Southern Wine & Spirits, of Miami, Florida, the nation's leading distributor of wines and spirits, activated its preparedness plans with IBM Business Recovery Services for the second consecutive year. The company shifted its day-to-day computing to IBM's business recovery center in Boulder, CO, to avoid possible outages. IBM business continuity experts provided complete multi-vendor recovery support for host, distributed, midrange and workstation environments. IBM also helped with business and call center operations, while securing workspace for customer personnel.

Over the past six years IBM Global Services' Business Recovery Services has successfully supported more than 400 customers during many types of disasters, including: Hurricanes Georges, Opal, Erin and Andrew, the ice storm of 1998 in Quebec, the Oklahoma City and World Trade Center bombings, the Auckland, New Zealand power failure; local and regional telecommunication (strike-throughs) outages; and operational disasters, involving massive hardware or software failures.

In addition, as the premiere e-business company, IBM has protected many customers against viruses like Explorezip. Worm and Melissa and via its ethical hacking and intrusion detection services has prevented unauthorized entry by hackers. IBM helps enterprises establish the right levels of security and systems backup capability to support customers' e-business requirements.

IBM Global Services is the world's largest information technology services provider, with 1998 revenues of approximately $29 billion. Services is the fastest growing part of IBM, with more than 130,000 professionals serving customers in 160 countries. IBM Global Services integrates IBM's broad range of capabilities -- services, hardware, software and research -- to help companies of all sizes realize the full value of information technology. For more information visit: www.ibm.com/services.

For more information or to arrange an interview with an IBM Business Recovery Services executive and/or a customer who represents a regional business that has declared a disaster during this hurricane, please call Robin Carley, IBM Business Recovery Services, at (914) 759-4087. Or, visit our Web site at www.ibm.com/services/brs.

Effective Business Continuity Plans Help Organizations Successfully Battle Hurricane Floyd

Feared to be Hurricane Andrew's big brother, Hurricane Floyd loomed off the southeast coast of Florida as an unwelcome reminder to those that experienced Andrew's wrath in 1992. Like Andrew, Floyd, a Category 4 hurricane, was expected to make a direct hit on Florida, and residents and business alike were taking the threat seriously.

So too was Comdisco, a leading provider of business continuity and high availability services. "We began closely tracking Hurricane Floyd when it was still well out in the Atlantic," said John Jackson, president of Comdisco Continuity Services. "Our operations and recovery facility staff were keeping in close contact with customers whose operations were in the expected path of the hurricane."

The initial declarations came from companies in east Florida early the week of September 12. At this point with Floyd still out at sea, but packing winds of 155 mph, nearly one million people were ordered to evacuate Florida's east coast as Floyd charged toward the state. Evacuations shortly followed for coastal areas of Georgia and the Carolinas, with more than 2.5 million people ultimately evacuating these areas.

In the early stages of the hurricane's threat, Comdisco was simultaneously supporting two-dozen recoveries for customers with operations in the Southeast coastal areas. As the storm tracked further north, eventually making landfall in Cape Fear, N.C., on September 16, many of the Florida-based customers were able to breath a sigh of relief as they were going to be spared much of the expected damage.

However, just as these companies began to make plans to return their operations from Comdisco recovery facilities to their home locations, companies further up the coast were beginning to issue alerts and disaster declarations. By this time the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm, but it continued to pelt the Mid-Atlantic and then the Northeast coast with high winds and heavy rains. It was the aftermath of the rains that caused many of the declarations in the Northeast region.

"Some companies had to declare because their facilities were flooded," said Jackson. "However, several other companies were hit by phone outages which had, in turn, been caused by flooding at their local phone company's central office."

Ultimately, Comdisco supported 33 disaster declarations related to Hurricane Floyd, the largest number of declarations it's ever recorded for a single disaster event. Disaster declarations were received from customers in the securities, banking, insurance, health care and high-tech manufacturing industries. These customers were able to restore critical operations running on mainframe, midrange and distributed systems, as well as take advantage of Comdisco's workarea recovery services, where customers are provided with fully equipped office environments to quickly relocate key personnel.

While total estimates for the damage caused by Hurricane Floyd have yet to be tallied, estimates are that it will run well into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and possibly billions.

"Fortunately, Hurricane Floyd did not cause as much damage as was initially feared," said Jackson. "But it still was a highly destructive storm and should serve as a strong reminder to businesses that the only way to effectively minimize their impact is to have a tested, current business continuity program in place."

In total, Comdisco has successfully supported 84 recoveries related to hurricanes. In addition to Hurricane Floyd, these include recoveries from Hurricane Georges (1998), Hurricane Bertha (1996), Hurricanes Opal, Luis and Erin (1995), and Hurricane Andrew (1992). Overall, hurricanes have accounted for nearly 22 percent of all recoveries supported by Comdisco. 

Comdisco provides global technology infrastructure solutions that drive business advantage for its custoemrs. The company offers a complete suite of information technology services including continuity, managed network services, and desktop management services. Visit their website at www.comdisco.com or call 800.272.9792.