Solution providers in the New York area and the rest of the country spent much of the day Wednesday trying to make sense of Tuesday's terrorist attack against the World Trade Center--contemplating how far-reaching the effects will be.
Like many New York executives, Steve Israel, executive vice president of AMC Computer, saw one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center come tumbling down. When it did, he feared for friends and colleagues who were at work in the building.
One of his company's top engineers was on the 21st floor helping a customer when one of the airliners struck the tower. The worker managed to escape the building before it collapsed. But some of AMC's customers did not, Israel said with grave sadness.
"One customer lost their whole IT staff, their data center-- everything," said Israel, whose own company is located at 129 W. 27th in Manhattan. Another customer, whom Israel has known for more than a decade, was presumed to be at his desk on the 79th floor of one of the towers when the New York tragedy began. Israel has not heard of his whereabouts and fears the worst.
"He was just in our offices yesterday," said Israel, who was working from home on Wednesday. "I'm sick at the devastation."
Heartbroken but not defeated, Israel and his company continue to serve customer needs. For one of its largest clients, Prudential, the company has ordered 700 IBM laptops. For another client, AMC Computer is working to establish a complete, new data center in nearby New Jersey.
One problem though: AMC Computer is having difficulty trying to figure a way to get systems into its Brooklyn-area data center where new machines can be imaged.
"We may end up mirroring our systems in New Jersey to help customers," said Israel, who noted with great pride at the way the industry and New Yorkers are pulling together. "Everyone from IBM to Ingram to GE Capital have been tremendous. They've told us not to worry about credit. They have offered help. The unbelievable spirit of this industry goes on," he said.
Jim Ludlow, co-founder and CEO of Imirage, a Web integration company in Allentown, Pa., said he felt "disbelief and quite honestly anger" over the attacks.
But more than the initial emotional impact, Ludlow says he expects there to be long-term business repercussions on a global scale. "Our customers are impacted," says Ludlow. "The logistics of moving equipment and moving shipments are shutting businesses down, and we're seeing that."
Ludlow says he wasn't immediately sure what, if any, monetary losses his company has suffered as a result of yesterday's events.
"It's customer communications that's being affected. Our customers are focused on their businesses and making sure everything is working and operating."
Still, he acknowledged that in light of the large-scale tragedy, "getting people to talk about interactive products or e-business solutions has certainly a lower priority."
Moving forward, he expects there will be a whole new set of delays as project signings and customer approvals for work will be put off. "I do expect there to be some impact on our business, and we're just a small services business so I can't imagine what our larger competitors are facing."
While Ludlow is seeing virtually all of his customers impacted in some way by the terrorist attacks, it's the ones in the New York metropolitan area that are hardest hit.
"Certainly, our New York City and metropolitan customers, due to the disruption of services and the airline disruption in general [are hardest hit]," he says. "A good percent of those flights are freights, like FedEx, and the U.S. Mail, and that's all been disrupting the delivery of parts and documents."
Beyond business, Ludlow still wonders about the long-term political and cultural repercussions of this week's attack. "The impact and scar has to be permanent," he says. "I don't know how far the reaction will go, but there will be a change. I don't see how things can remain the same given this."
Meanwhile, Coley Brown president and founder of CTB Consulting, Englewood, N.J., is still trying to digest the horrible events he watched unfold yesterday while he was sitting in his car on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River--just a few miles away from the World Trade Center.
"I must share with you that the news and pictures cannot convey the magnitude of the devastation that took place," wrote Brown in an e-mail to VARBusiness editors. "I can't imagine what it must have been like [for anyone] in the area."
Brown says that while the company is not aware of any employees directly affected by the attack, the company is focusing on "getting back to normal as quickly as we can."
"That said, some of our perspectives will never be the same," he added.