Earlier this week I spoke with Dan Haurey, president of a 21-employee MSP company called Exigent Technologies, which is based in Mount Arlington, NJ. Like many companies and residents in Haurey’s area, he was without power and his business (and many employees’ homes) was flooded out following the super storm that hit the East Coast on Monday evening on October 29.
How was your business impacted by the storm?
Haurey: Our hosted VoIP system went down for a few hours, and we were without cell phone service for a few hours, but that was the extent of our IT problems. The telephone communication difficulties reminded me of what it was like on 9-11.
We have a partner with a co-location facility, who enabled us to relocate our servers, and we’re temporarily operating our business from a local hotel, but everything is working. We’ve spent the past week -- and the entire weekend --relocating our customers’ servers into the co-location facility.
What are some highlights from the past week?
Haurey: Because of the telephone system problems, we’ve been reaching out to our customers via Twitter and LinkedIn to make them aware we’re available to help them. One of our customers, a large insurance company in the Wall Street area, was flooded out and without power. We had to work with local authorities to get special permission to enter their building and retrieve their servers. We had a narrow window to work with and their equipment was on the third floor. We used ladders to access some parts of the building and in some instances had to carry equipment down several flights of stairs. Our guys had to move quickly. Afterwards, many of our techs who were involved with this project said they felt like the Seal Team Six of the IT world.
This particular customer has more than 100 employees. We’ve set them up with VPN access to their applications, which are now running in our partner’s co-location facility. Many of the employees are working out of their homes until their facility gets back online again, which could be a while.
What changes do you plan to make to your business following this experience?
Haurey: We currently don’t have ability to automatically failover to the cloud with our current backup and disaster recovery vendor. This means we’ve had to physically retrieve our customers’ servers, drive them to a co-location center, and then get them back online. Prior to this storm, we were evaluating hybrid storage solutions from multiple vendors, and we were on the verge of selecting Datto.
One other change we’re looking to make is to add a cloud-based SMS messaging service capability as another means of communication with clients during natural disasters, so that as soon as the cell towers get back online they can receive a text message from us letting them know how they can get in touch with us if they need our help.
How do you predict your customers who weren’t on a managed services plan with you before will respond when you talk about business continuity and disaster recovery following Hurricane Sandy?
Haurey: I think this will open a lot of people’s eyes to the importance of protecting their data. Out of our total base of 140 clients, we only have 40 that currently have a managed backup and disaster recovery agreement with us. These 40 have been our top priority following the hurricane.
Note: the three pictures in this article were all taken by Exigent Technologies while assisting a large insurance company customer and helping its customer relocate its servers to a safe co-location facility and back up and running