Large companies with considerable IT resources and a long history of reliance on telecom and computer networks emerged from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with their business processes mostly intact.
But smaller firms — some directly affected, others merely contemplating the business ramifications of mass outages — are scrambling to develop low-budget disaster recovery plans.
Many smaller businesses lost servers that contained files and critical data, computer hard drives that held more files and e-mail, and in-building server rooms that supported everything from Web sites to accounting software. For some, even phone lines and e-mail services were out cold.
Others are starting from scratch: "They are looking for office space," said Irwin Wallach, co-founder and president of Genosys Technology Management.
Communications — for both internal and external use — is a top priority. Web hoster Globix said interest is building in outsourced e-mail and file sharing applications, where the data is stored in a professionally managed and geographically distributed data center.
There is also interest in virtual private network (VPN) setups and inexpensive telephone rerouting schemes that would allow companies to operate from ad hoc remote locations if they needed to. Such services could be set up through firms such as Genosys, which is developing enterprise communications networks with external monitoring and disaster scenarios built in, Wallach said.
Web hosting firms nationwide reported a sharp increase in requests for colocation services. Companies that had been backing up their mission-critical information to tape are now looking to transfer the information to servers and restore service.
A typical disaster recovery setup provided by hoster Verio entails colocated or managed servers, mirrored in several data centers; firewall-protected pipe going into the business offices; and a VPN that would ensure the safety of the traffic that is backed up.
Cervalis, a managed hoster with a new data center 60 miles north of New York, said companies have begun to lease space for disaster recovery setups. DataCentersNow, a Rockville, Md., company that builds and leases data centers, said customer traffic is up 30 percent.
"For a single computer cabinet, where you can have two or three servers, a customer can have a redundant site in our facility for $1,300 a month," Cervalis President Michael Boccardi said.
Ken Trant, 3Wares director of IT, said new technologies — such as high-capacity Internet Small Computer System Interface disk storage — coupled with big, cheap pipes will allow companies such as Yipes Communications to provide affordable disaster recovery services to smaller enterprises.