Impact From Disaster Mounting On IT Industry

Disaster recovery requests flood in, companies rattled

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The impact on the IT industry from the alleged terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. continues to mount. Aside from the thousands of lives thought to be lost, the tragedy has directly affected scores of companies based in New York and Washington, D.C., as well as those with satellite operations or ongoing interests in Manhattan and the greater D.C. area.

Akamai Technologies co-founder and CTO Daniel C. Lewin was among the first casualties reported from the tragedy. Lewin was reportedly a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11, which was on its way from Boston to Los Angeles. Authorities say the plane was one of two that crashed into the World Trade Center towers, the result of the alleged hijacking and terrorist plot.

"Danny was a wonderful human being. He will be deeply missed by his many friends at Akamai," said George H. Conrades, Akamai chairman and CEO, in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Danny's family, friends and colleagues during this time of national tragedy and personal loss."

In and around the World Trade Center complex, numerous IT companies have offices. Sun Microsystems, for example, lists two World Trade Center as one of its worldwide services sales offices. A Sun representative could not be reached Tuesday for comment on the status or whereabouts of those staffers.

Vinny DiSpigno of New York-based integrator PWR Systems said the company closed its office at 90 John Street, in the shadow of the World Trade Center, just after the first airplane crash occurred. Fortunately, all of the company's employees are safe, though shaken, said DiSpigno.

Meanwhile, a host of executives from software-maker Vignette appeared to sidestep on Tuesday. The executives were in Manhattan for the day to participate in a press conference announcing the worldwide availability of Vignette V6 content management software. A company representative reported that all of the executives had been accounted for by mid-Tuesday.

The attack also caused executives at Asera to cancel the gala event they were planning later this week to unveil their new Asera eBusiness Operating System. The event, which was supposed to take place at the New York's Plaza Hotel, was supposed to include a visit by former Asera board member and former Oracle COO Ray Lane. The company says it is rescheduling the event for some time this fall. But beyond the immediate physical threat felt by so many companies is the long-term effects their businesses will feel.

One JPMorgan worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, says she is rattled to the core. Her office is located downtown at 60 Wall Street. "Emotionally, now, it's going to be a long recovery process. I don't think I'll ever go back to our building," she said from her home. "My office faced the World Trade Center."

Elsewhere, others returned to work Tuesday and Wednesday, many to address pressing customer concerns. Solution providers that focus on disaster recovery, for example, have found themselves inundated with requests from corporations and organizations all over the country that are feeling the effects of Tuesday's tragedy.

Rich Maganini, a spokesman for Comdisco, says that as of Tuesday afternoon, the company has received 62 disaster declarations from 31 of its customers. The first request came in at 9:05 a.m. only minutes after the attacks began. To put that number into perspective, the former record of disaster recovery requests was 32 requests, which came in 1999 in the wake of Hurricane Floyd .

"So we've already doubled it. It's been quite a day," says Maganini. "We're fully mobilized right now to serve our customers."

Maganini said the bulk of requests are coming from financial institutions, including New York-based banks, insurance companies that have lost resources and office space as a result of the destruction of the World Trade Center. The disaster recover requests so far have run the gamut from simple workspace requests to lost resources, support for PCs and workstations, and distributed systems and mainframes.

Aside from New York-based clients, which were directly impacted by the World Trade Center explosions, companies in areas like Chicago and Los Angeles are being impacted because of forced evacuations there as well.

Comdisco, based in Rosemont, Ill., has 13 recovery facilities throughout the country--in areas including New York, New Jersey, Chicago, California and Boston--that support customers by providing workspace, resources and IT infrastructures and support services to help them keep their businesses running.

Maganini said it's still too early to predict how long the after-effects of the attack will be felt by companies and their IT infrastructures.

"We've been able to provide what customers need at this point, and that's going well," says Maganini. "But I can't speculate on what's going to happen in the days and weeks ahead. We are so focused right now in just getting things set up for our customers."

Far from the center of the attacks, others are looking for ways to help. C I Host, an e-business solution provider and Web hosting company based in Bedford, Texas, announced today that it will match any and all donations made by its employees to go to relief efforts--on a dollar-by-dollar basis up to a total of $50,000.

"Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to everyone touched by this tragedy," said Christopher Faulkner, CEO of C I Host, in a statement. "We are setting up this matching disaster fund so our company, jointly with our employees, can provide tangible help for the victims of this disaster and their families."


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