Looking On the Bright Side

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Solution providers expect sales of business-continuity services to soar following the largest power outage in modern history, one that affected over 50 million people and countless businesses in almost a dozen North American states.

"I walk into law firms, and they haven't got a good backup. There is no backup strategy or plan," said Mark Stellini, CEO of InfoSystems, a Wilmington, Del.-based solution provider, who said he expects last week's outage will increase awareness and drive sales of backup and disaster-recovery solutions. "It's amazing, and it happens a lot."

John Olynick, CEO of Basis, a $25 million solution provider in San Francisco, expects his business-continuance/disaster-recovery business to double over the next year. He estimates that only about 10 percent of his clients have a business-continuity strategy.

Charles Kokoska, president of Computer Specialists, a Whitesboro, N.Y.-based solution provider, deployed all of his 22 technicians and engineers to help customers Thursday afternoon and well into Friday morning. Many problems occurred because his customers hadn't invested in enough UPS systems, have overloaded the ones they do have, haven't upgraded them or have refused to replace the batteries.

As a result, databases and other systems shut down at different times during the outage, which corrupted files and database indexes or fried the power supplies of equipment that wasn't protected, Kokoska said.

Solution providers began including more backup and redundancy solutions in their service maintenance contracts following Sept. 11. Customers that invested in the services suffered few problems, solution providers said.

"After Sept. 11, our clients realized we weren't suggesting solutions without a purpose, and most of them last night were thankful they listened to us," said Evan Leonard, president of Chips Solutions, a Lake Success, N.Y.-based solution provider.

Dale Mesnick, director of operations at Smart Solutions, a solution provider in Canton, Ohio, expects the outage will force more customers to invest in service contracts that emphasize robust backup and recovery solutions.

"We anticipate this will be a great opportunity to sell more maintenance contracts," he said. "For now, the increase in billable hours and chargeable contracts will be dramatic. We'll have technicians working over the weekend to bring our customers back to where they should be."

CRN Staff contributed to this story.

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