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The Channel Gears Up For Major East Coast Storm

Ken Presti and Scott Campbell

With a winter storm expected to pound the Northeast over the next couple days, local solution providers and distributors said they have diligently made plans to help customers -- and themselves -- to avoid potential damage.

For some VARs, the imminent blizzard is the first potential disastrous event since last fall's Hurricane Sandy.

Carl Mazzanti, president of eMazzanti Technologies, Hoboken, N.J., is one of those people. eMazzanti's headquarters was flooded after Sandy, and the company had to scramble to get back on its feet, all the while trying to help customers at the same time.

[Related: When Disaster Strikes: Let These VARs Tell You What Can Happen ]

This time, eMazzanti is ready, Mazzanti said. Hurricane Sandy still plays very much in the psyche of New Yorkers, Mazzanti said. The solution provider has invested in portable solar panels and has backup power for every desk as well as generators in case power fails.

"This time we're super prepared. Our staff knew what to expect. We had a plan. The guys went out and got fuel in their vehicles and filled containers," Mazzanti said. "We're in massively better position than people. It's fresh in their mind. We've spent four months prepping for today."

eMazzanti communicated out to customers that it was offering complementary help on Friday to prepare for the storm if they called beforehand, Mazzanti said. "That way, they won't have to worry about whether they should call or shouldn't call without being billed for it," he said.

As the East Coast batons down the hatches, a number of events have already been canceled. Microsoft, for example, has scrapped plans for a major publicity event in New York City tonight in celebration of Surface Windows 8 Pro edition.

Meanwhile, distributors are gearing up for the weather onslaught, as well.

"First and foremost we want to make sure of the safety of our employees in that specific region," said Pete Peterson, senior vice president of U.S. sales at Tech Data. "We have a logistics center in New Jersey, and we want to make sure that folks are safe. But, we also want to make sure that we are supporting our customers, whether that be through extended hours or by rushing specific products to the region in order to get people back online."

In the past, the Florida-based distributor has responded to emergencies with extended hours and specific hotlines. Such measures may be activated for the forthcoming storm, depending on the circumstances.

"We have already seen an uptick in orders over the course of the last day or two," Peterson said. "We have logistics centers in six different areas of the country, so we are well positioned to respond, even if our New Jersey facility is impacted. We are very much on high alert."

NEXT: Disaster Recovery At The Ready


Vendors focused on disaster recovery are also ramping up their efforts in advance of the storm.

"We are monitoring the situation and will work with the partners to get the customers back up and running through our network operations centers, which are available 24/7," said Steve Ricketts, vice president of marketing at Continuum. "In blizzard conditions, it may become difficult to physically get to the partner or the customer. So, that's where our ability to resolve issues remotely is really critical."

Another online backup provider is beefing up its staff in order to address developments in real time.

"We are maintaining full support hours today, despite Boston being shutdown at noon, and we are doubling weekend support coverage," said Jay Bolgatz, interim CEO of Intronis, a Boston-based cloud backup and recovery vendor, in an email to CRN. "We also keep a stock of media in case there is a surge of system restore requests."

Meanwhile, Mont Phelps, president and CEO of Waltham, Mass.-based NWN Corp., was traveling in another part of the country Friday, but said his company's command center was fully staffed and monitoring customers' IT systems as the storm approached.

"We're 24/7. We're always up," said Phelps, "We've taken all the steps necessary to keep our customers up and running. We never blink."

Rick Whiting contributed to this story.

PUBLISHED FEB. 8, 2013

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