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Powered Down: Hurricane Wilma Hits South Florida

Many South Florida solution providers battered by Hurricane Wilma last week lost their power and telephones, but not their spirits.

“Well, compared to last year, at least our roof stayed connected to the building this time,” said Rory Sanchez, president of SLPowers, a West Palm Beach, Fla.-based solution provider and MSP. “After Hurricane Frances we found our roof back in the alley.”

SLPowers was still without power last Thursday, but the solution provider was able to help customers because of measures it took following Frances in 2004. “Fortunately, we moved our servers out. We can forward our calls to cell phones. Cell service is shaky, but we can get messages and call customers back,” Sanchez said.

About 90 percent of SLPowers&' customers didn&'t have power last week, estimated Sanchez. Florida officials said it could be several weeks before it is fully restored. “So far customers have been contacting us as they come back. We have been able to take care of them. We tell our engineers, ‘Stay by your cell phone,&' ” Sanchez said.

The MSP&'s own improved continuity plan was worth the investment, Sanchez said. “It was a big step for us to take our critical servers to a co-location facility. Last year, we still depended on our offices. This year we are not.”

Plexus M/2, a Miami-based MSP, got its power back after two days and sustained no infrastructural damage, rare among other buildings on Brickell Ave., known as the Wall Street of Latin America, said Hal Martell, chairman and CEO. “I&'m looking out my window at some other office buildings—all the windows are gone, furniture is blown out,” Martell said.

Like SLPowers, Plexus M/2 houses its network off-site. Interestingly, it recently moved the network back to a Miami location after housing it in Virginia for several years. “It&'s a secure place,” Martell said.

Distributor Tech Data&'s improved disaster-recovery plan also was put to the test last week when its Miami logistics center and sales office had to close for two days. Tech Data rerouted sales calls and orders.

“We have some people still without transportation, but the majority of staff is in place. We anticipate being back to normal quickly as far as being able to take calls and process orders,” said Ben Godwin, corporate vice president of real estate at Tech Data, Clearwater, Fla.

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