In the Face of
Disaster, Ingenuity Saves the Day"> McCoy at InnovaSystems was not so lucky. However, even though the company suffered a temporary loss of its corporate intranet when a remote communications provider fell victim to a fire-related blackout, it quickly recovered its operations within a few hours. McCoy attributes the companys resilience to its core competency in defense readiness systems. The firms Defense Readiness Reporting System is used by multiple branches of the U.S. military to coordinate and track readiness measures for equipment, supplies, personnel and training. Absence of informationSony workers, unable to find out whether nearby fires had reached their corporate offices, came up with a novel idea to monitor conditions at the Rancho Bernardo campus. Colleagues in Sonys Park Ridge, N.J., office fired up sophisticated videoconferencing equipment located in multiple conference rooms in Rancho Bernardo, training the cameras toward the windows to look for any signs of the approaching flames. The proximity of the flames wasnt Sonys only worry. "We were considering shutting down our San Diego data center and cutting to our disaster recovery failover site if we thought too much smoke was getting into the data center equipment. So we needed to find out about the air quality," said Martin. Monitoring corporate IT infrastructure was also top of mind for Ed L. Goddin, vice president for IT operations and engineering infrastructure at Intuit. While the tax and accounting software makers corporate headquarters is in the Northern California city of Mountain View, it maintains a corporate data center in San Diego, along with a major divisional headquarters that employs about 1,300 people. God-din was among the decision makers who opted to close the companys large Santa Fe Summit facility, the home of popular TurboTax consumer software, even though the active fires seemed far removed at the time of the decision. With employees safe and accounted for, either in their homes or in hotel rooms provided for evacuees at company expense, it was easier to focus on protecting Intuits key infrastructure and data assets, Goddin said. Although the organizations mentioned in this article all had employees or students who suffered loss or displacement from the fires, none lost their lives, and all were able to return to normal operations within a week of the fires outset. For all of the IT managers, attending to corporate infrastructure needs during the fires was secondary to addressing the physical well-being of their internal IT customers. "Where we spent the majority of our time on the task force was looking out for the welfare of our employees," Martin said, "You really need to start there before you can do anything else." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
A common complaint from the IT executives and their workers was a general absence of solid information on where the fires were burningand where they were headed.