Tech companies pitch in for Katrina recovery efforts

Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts are drawing not only government emergency relief workers, but also legions of IT experts to assist the Gulf Coast region with data restoration and business continuity services, emergency communications and restoration of IT infrastructures.

IT businesses also are making significant aid contributions in what is arguably the largest disaster recovery effort in U.S. history, covering an area of 90,000 square miles.

IBM Corp., SunGard Data Systems Inc., VeriCenter Inc. and other data recovery companies announced they are performing IT recovery operations for numerous clients in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The companies also are reaching out to other businesses seeking emergency help for restoring data and maintaining business operations.

SunGard of Wayne, Pa., mobilized its Crisis Management Center in Philadelphia last week to handle alerts and disaster declaration from clients in the Gulf region. During 2004, more than 770 client companies used SunGard's services following four major hurricanes, and 12 companies moved personnel into SunGard's facilities to access data recovery resources.

"Through the knowledge and experience gained from helping customers through the 2004 hurricane season, and with the upgrades implemented in our crisis management center, we are fully confident that we will be able to help our customers continue to operate their businesses without interruption," Larry Henderson, executive vice president of SunGard Availability Services, said in a news release.

IBM said in a news release it has reached out to its 125 clients in Katrina's path and is "actively supporting multiple client recoveries, helping them transition from their production centers (applications, data, networks and personnel) to one of IBM's recovery centers across the United States."

VeriCenter of Houston said its back-up data systems have allowed New Orleans-based SCOP Pool Corp., a large wholesaler of swimming pool equipment, to maintain its operations at Vericenter's Dallas data center.

"SCP Pool's entire IT department has set up shop at VeriCenter's data center in Dallas, operating from that facility without any disruption to its business," VeriCenter said in a press release.

Smaller IT companies are offering emergency help in recovering data as well, including DriveSavers Inc. of Novato, Calif., and Tugboat Enterprises of Powell River of British Columbia.

Among other firms also conducting IT-related emergency efforts:

  • AT&T Corp. said it is working to set up a temporary communications network of more than 1,000 phone lines to assist refugees at the Astrodome in Houston, and has offered its services to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to establish IP-based centers offering free phone calls for emergency workers and refugees.

  • Verizon Wireless has established Wireless Emergency Communication Centers at the Astrodome and Reliant Arena in Houston that are available for making more than 300 phone calls per hour. Verizon Wireless also is working to restore cell phone service in the affected areas.

  • Intel Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., said it is working with the American Red Cross to distribute 1,500 laptop computers, and also is establishing 150 wireless points to provide connectivity in all permanent shelters. Intel is donating some of its own systems and pooling donations from partners including Dell Computer Corp. and Lenovo, the company said.

  • CapRock Communications of Houston said it is deploying transportable satellite communications systems to the Gulf Coast that include telephone, fax, real-time video and broadband Internet access services.
  • About the Author

    Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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