Thor Technologies was about as close to the destruction that enveloped lower Manhattan on Sept. 11 as any company whose workers are all still alive to talk about it.
Suite 8707, as in the 87th floor in Tower 1 of the World Trade Center, belonged to the 45-member staff of Thor, a 10-year-old security software company. Only four employees were at their desks that morning, and they all made it out of the building safely.
"Our office was facing the northeast and when the plane hit, it was like a bomb or an earthquake," director of marketing Christine Gillies remembers. "Half the ceiling in our office came down and the fire started immediately."
Early the next morning, CEO Brian Young began deploying the companys IT disaster recovery programs, after confirming the safety of all Thor employees. "I think the only reason we were so gung ho to rebuild was no one was injured," Young said.
The companys entire data center was in Tower 1 and its backup systems were in a nearby building. "Our off-site [backup] was in close proximity so it didnt do much good," Young said. "Obviously, we had some disaster recovery plans but they didnt encompass the total destruction of the World Trade Center."
After acquiring temporary office space in midtown Manhattan, John Aisien, Thors vice president of business development, began calling vendors to purchase servers and workstations to replace the $2 million in IT infrastructure the company lost.
Aisien and Young were overwhelmed by vendor support, especially from Compaq Computer, which offered 80 percent discounts; similar discounts came from Check Point Software Technologies, Dell Computer, IBM and Sun Microsystems.
At the time of the disaster, Young was in Tucson, Ariz., at an interoperability conference with competitors Access360, Business Layers, Novell and Waveset Technologies. Within hours, representatives from all those companies offered Thor assistance, and insurer Atlantic Mutual cut a check for expenses a few days later. Thor was up and running in a week.
"Although its a horrible tragedy, it kind of restores your faith in humanity," Young said.