Putting Out Fires

For three VARs in Southern California, the fire line is in the server room as they try to save data and keep businesses running while customers close shop and flee.

With flames lapping at the eaves and 500,000 people sprinting for safety in Southern California this week, it might make sense to literally pull the plug on the server, toss the rack in the trunk and drive out to the desert to avert the loss of equipment and data.

Thats just what one business did, said George Vahle, a partner and head of marketing at The I.T. Pros, a San Diego-based managed services provider. A full 80 percent of IT Pros customers have been affected by the wildfires in one way or another, many just by being displaced, Vahle said.

Other customers just removed tape backups to off-site locations, or shut down and moved pieces of equipment.

One customer, fearful that smoke in the area would set off the sprinkler system in his building in the hard-hit neighborhood of Rancho Santa Fe, removed his most vital IT equipment, Vahle said.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about how raging fires near San Diego are forcing tech companies to flee.

The peak of the crisis thus far occurred the night of Monday, Oct. 22, into Tuesday morning, Vahle said.

From its network operating center, the I.T. Pros skeleton office crew monitoring its customers IT systems could see customers dropping offline one by one.

"Many customers went offline due to power outages," Vahle said. "Customers were then operating on battery backups, but then the batteries got depleted."

The companys biggest task right now is getting those systems, interrupted in one way or another, back up and running.

I.T. Pros started seeing higher call volume from users on Tuesday, as people turned away from watching coverage of the fires on television and tried to return to work. Many found they couldnt log into their e-mail or their VPNs.

"There are still parts of the county that dont have power," Vahle said. "We are interfacing with those customers and by the end of the day tomorrow most customers will be back."

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