Dow Jones Leaves IT in New Jersey

Dow Jones Inc. will soon join the businesses coming back to Lower Manhattan when it returns to One World Financial Center, but it won't be bringing back its production data center.

Dow Jones Inc. will soon join the businesses coming back to Lower Manhattan when it returns to One World Financial Center, which it vacated on Sept. 11. But the company wont be bringing back its production data center, which has been moved to the companys South Brunswick, N.J., facility. And it will be reducing its presence in the building, which was adjacent to the World Trade Center towers and suffered considerable, but not structural, damage.

"World Financial Center used to be the hub. Itll now be a bureau," said Bill Godfrey, chief technology officer of Dow Jones, in South Brunswick.

The company will move just 400 employees back into the building, down from 800 that worked there prior to Sept. 11, and take up three floors of the building, instead of eight.

As a result of the attacks, some 100 Sun Microsystems Inc. and Compaq Computer Corp. servers, 400 Compaq workstations, and "millions of dollars" of Cisco networking gear were rendered inoperable, Godfrey said.

"Theres asbestos. ... The cleaning process is herculean," Godfrey said. And like all buildings in the area, its surrounding infrastructure, including electrical and phone lines, was knocked out.

Still, its proprietors are aiming to reopen the 80s-vintage office tower by the end of the year. Although Dow Jones will send many workers back, including many editors and reporters for the flagship The Wall Street Journal and Barrons publications, the companys data center will remain in South Brunswick.

"We made a decision not to put mission-critical production systems in World Financial Center," Godfrey said. "From a CTOs perspective, its long overdue. You no longer have your people where your data center is."

The decision is part of a comprehensive overhaul of the companys data and network architecture in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the price for which is estimated to be nearing $10 million, according to Godfrey.

Dow Jones is not alone. The vast majority of businesses, especially those with major IT operations in New York City, are taking a long, hard look at their corporate IT infrastructure in response to the attacks. Observers say many are looking for ways to avoid putting corporate data centers anywhere near potential terrorist targets.

The new Dow Jones strategy rests on two pillars. The first is reliance on a network of news and data centers, which can fail over to one another in an emergency. Those locations are in South Brunswick; New York; Jersey City, N.J.; Chicopee, Mass.; Toronto; Dallas; Orlando, Fla.; and London.

The second pillar is a greater reliance on remote offices and telecommuting.

"Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal have generally been pretty receptive toward working remotely," said Jim Pensiero, assistant managing editor of the Journal. "I dont think well become a virtual workplace, but the capabilities we have now are serving us greatly, and well likely build on them."

"We will be able to publish to the Web and create market data remotely. Also, were changing our approach to telecommuting. Whether its [Research In Motion Ltd.] BlackBerrys or [virtual private networks], the technologies are now more affordable and mature," Godfrey added.

"The editorial department can be fairly agnostic with regard to where the data systems are. I dont care where they are," Pensiero said.

At the moment of impact Sept. 11, Pensiero said, the backup systems in South Brunswick were online because the primary systems at World Financial Center were being upgraded.

But the next and biggest step for Dow Jones is to establish a new backup facility early next year to take the place of South Brunswick in the IT pecking order. The facility will either be in Dallas or Chicopee. The backup facility could also be hosted by a third party, Godfrey said.

This site will mirror The Wall Street Journals and Barrons production systems, currently in the companys primary facility in South Brunswick, where 900 Sun and Compaq servers are housed. These include many models of Sun servers, such as clustered pairs of Sun Enterprise 6500s, and Compaq servers ranging from ProLiant 1600s to new ProLiant DL580s, which handle corporate file, print and e-mail systems.

South Brunswick will be linked to the new backup facility with either T-1 or T-3 pipes in pairs for redundancy, Godfrey said.

South Brunswick is one node on the companys frame relay over Synchronous Optical Network ring linking it to Jersey City and World Financial Center. The now-severed link to the World Financial Center offices will be re-established, Godfrey said.