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IBM Director Gives Expert Advice for Contingency Planning : Page 2

Don DeMarco, Director, IBM Business Continuity and Recovery Services discusses the role of IT in business continuity strategies and recalls his experiences following the September 11 attacks.




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Remembering September 11
The IBM business model is based on a simple motto: people, processes, and technology. The people aspect of that equation is sometimes overlooked during a business recovery, when processes and technology are at the front of the mind. But the human factor has made September 11 unlike any other event in DeMarco's experience. The human toll has made the recovery effort and the resulting interest in IBM's Business Continuity and Recovery Services a distressing and uneasy time. DeMarco would not quote numbers of victims out of respect for the families, but IBM had 1,200 customers within a three-block radius of the World Trade Center.

The human factor made September 11 unlike any other event in DeMarco's experience. IBM had 1,200 customers within a three-block radius of the World Trade Center.  
In an eerie coincidence, IBM had its emergency operations center running on full alert prior to September 11 in anticipation of the fallout from a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico, which IBM had been watching and figuring would become a hurricane. So Big Blue had a head start when the hundreds of customer calls began pouring in on the day of the attacks. The scale of the devastation were so large, however, that a second emergency operating center had to be opened and IBM even compressed its office space usage at its own offices to make room for some customers.

The majority of calls were requests for end-user workspace. Customers needed desks, phones, chairs, PCs, etc. to continue to operate their businesses. Some 50,000 employees were displaced from the World Trade Center proper and another 50,000 from surrounding areas, say DiMarco. Calls came in from customers who needed help setting up equipment and others who needed a place to send their employees.

DeMarco also worked through the ice storms that devastated Canada and parts of the U.S. Northeast early in 1998 and through Hurricane Floyd's impact on the Southeast in September of 1999. During the ice storms people were at home with their families trying to keep warm with all the outages in utilities and in the days before Floyd struck people were taking their families and fleeing the Gulf coast. In both cases, regardless of how quickly companies in those areas could recover from the damage, their staffs would not be around to do the work. Again, the people aspect of business continuity was on the back burner.

Glen Kunene is the Senior Editor at DevX. You can reach him at gkunene@devx.com
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