11.16.2012

Financial Infrastructure Holds Up Despite Sandy Destruction

11.16.2012
Terry Flanagan

Good contingency planning has been credited with keeping many companies running following Hurricane Sandy.

Although the superstorm ravaged the New York metropolitan area, financial firms and the companies that service them were able to mostly carry on despite having limited physical access to offices and equipment—with well-rehearsed disaster plans kicking in in these tricky times.

Paladyne Systems, a provider of investment management technology, was able to “deliver a seamless response to clients during the storm”, said Christian Robertson, Paladyne’s chief technology officer.

The data centers Paladyne’s systems are based out of remained uninterrupted and staff were all available, despite an office closure in Teaneck, New Jersey, due to contingency planning for both IT staff and the systems they support.

Paladyne had performed a business continuity planning and disaster recovery simulation the weekend before the storm, despite having completed a full disaster recovery test just two weeks prior as part of the regularly scheduled quarterly exercise.

One critical differentiator for Paladyne is that it has no legacy systems.

“Paladyne has built its systems from the ground up and has embraced the virtualization model, whereby they look at all resources as containers,” said Robertson. “Nothing contains more than 50% of assets, clients and data and it’s all replicated to one other site, if not two.”

Paladyne operates out of two data centers in the U.S.—both owned by data center operator Equinix; one in Secaucus, New Jersey, and one in Virginia—where all client data is stored.

“There are no disaster recovery sites per se, just two production sites with enough spare capacity to run all clients at once,” said Robertson. “As such, there is no risk of the disaster recovery site not working as half of the client base is using the second site as their production site.”

Despite power failures in New Jersey, Equinix’s huge data center in Secaucus was operational at all times during the crisis on back-up generators. In the event power had been lost, Paladyne would have failed over to Equinix’s Virginia center.

Andrew Haines, chief information officer at Scivantage, a provider of middle and back office software, said that the company continually checks resilience.

“Over the last dozen years, going back to 9/11 and the 2003 blackout, Irene and now Sandy, exercising these plans in a real-life scenario has become the norm,” he said.

Scivantage’s office in Jersey City, New Jersey was in the direct path of the storm and sustained damage. The office has since regained power, and although restoration work is ongoing, it has full access to facilities.

“The business continuity plan ensured our clients’ day-to-day business operations were prioritized and enabled us to keep our teams online throughout the week,” Haines said.

“Our clients require us to certify our disaster recovery plan, and demonstrate we can failover from one site to another,” he said. “Events have forced us to prove it out more often than we’d like to.”

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