New York, New Jersey financial sector well prepared for Hurricane Sandy

Lessons learned from 9/11 lead to virtualization helping enterprises, cloud services buttressing SMBs

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"Our philosophy is we encourage customers to test and test frequently just for this type of situation," he said.

Hurricanes, Dearing said, actually offer better preparation time than other natural or man-made disasters that come without warning. Dearning compared forecasts of hurricane Sandy to Irene in 2011, which is the fifth costliest storm in U.S. history and 1991's Hurricane Bob, which at the time was among the ten costliest hurricanes in the U.S.

Hurricane Irene struck in Aug., 2011, brushing along the Mid-Atlantic until making its final landfall Brooklyn. Irene caused massive flooding and widespread wind damage, causing 56 deaths and leaving millions without power. It was estimated to have cause around $15.6 billon in damage.

In July 1991, after brushing past North Carolina's Outer Banks, Long Island in New York, Hurricane Bob made landfall on Rhode Island, and eventually caused $1.5 billion in damage to the upper Northeast including 17 deaths.

SunGard has hosting centers in Orlando; Atlanta; Herndon, Va.; Philadelphia; Carlstadt, N.J.; Queens; and Boston.

According to Marc DeCastro, an analyst with IDC Financial Insights, the impact of a hurricane is always two-fold: The impact to IT systems and business infrastructure; and the human element. What employees should be preparing to work from home or getting hotel rooms near a disaster recovery site, and who should be manning data centers during the storm.

"All those plans are being dusted off and reviewed by executives already and they're being communicated to employees," DeCastro said.

Advancements in mobile technologies will no doubt also play a key role, as they have in the recent past, in keeping communications up during and after the storm, DeCastro said.

"Especially in banking, there are so many electronic channels available. Maybe we don't have electricity, but maybe I can still communicate with my mobile phone," he said. "I can charge off car battery, and if I need to transfer money or make a payment, I can still do it with my mobile device."

"From a systems standpoint, we've had lots of practice," he added. "I think employees will be more involved in personal cleanup initiatives. You're talking 60 million people who are in the path of this storm. There could be a lot of turmoil as far as people thinking 'I need to protect my own property and family.'"

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at  @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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