As New York braces for the Republican National Convention this week, IT managers at the citys financial services companies may be nervous about the potential for terrorism, but theyre prepared.
Having learned from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the massive power blackout of 2003, many Manhattan-based companies are now hardened with beefed-up disaster recovery initiatives, such as encrypted data backup processes, remote backup facilities and redundant telecommunications systems.
John Shaffer, like IT managers at financial companies across the city, has checked and rechecked his backup and disaster recovery systems to ensure availability of his companys critical IT resources.
"Theres definitely a concern. [Terrorists] have obviously picked buildings in our area that are potential targets. Who really knows whats going to happen?" said Shaffer, director of technology at Greenhill & Co. Inc., an investment bank located near Madison Square Garden, site of the RNC. "Weve been reviewing our plans to make sure that in the worst-case scenario, I [can] move my e-mail someplace else."
The tragic events of Sept. 11 triggered Shaffer and his company to begin implementing serious disaster recovery measures. Some of these included moving its backup facility from New York to Connecticut and providing redundant telecommunications systems outside New York.
"I think companies have figured out that they cant have all their assets sitting in one place; you need things outside the city," Shaffer said. "But they still come here to do the work."
Looking to eliminate possible single points of failure, Shaffer said his company is also considering deploying VOIP (voice-over-IP) technologies to enable employees to work remotely. Also under consideration is a wireless installation around the companys facility that would reroute calls via a satellite dish, should ground wires become unusable or temporarily disrupted.
While the threat of terrorism has remained somewhat of a constant in New York, the RNC has pushed companies located in the area around Madison Square Garden to aggressively plug any holes in their disaster recovery strategies.
"I started getting calls before the specific terror targets were named, more convention-centric questions," said Bruce Leibstone, president of Warren Systems Group Inc., a New York company that provides desktop and server infrastructure support services. "Theyve asked me, My office is downtown—is there something I should be doing? A lot of firms get far removed from the backup process until its needed."
One of Warren Systems most-sought-after services during the RNC will be an encrypted backup service powered by EVault Inc. technology that can take scheduled or triggered snapshots of customer data without affecting server replication.