Estes Express Lines

Hurricane Gaston soaked its systems. Now the trucking company mirrors its data in sunny and dry Arizona.

Estes Express Lines Inc. faced a host of woes when four feet of water poured into its first-floor data center during the summer of 2004. That was when Hurricane Gaston moved off the Atlantic Ocean and plunged inland to sock Richmond, Va. The storm stalled over the city for hours and caused unprecedented damage.

Estes' headquarters were hit especially hard in a disaster that escalated rapidly. Windows shattered, a major generator exploded, and company executives watched helplessly as 185 terminals used to direct the operations of more than 20,000 tractor-trailers just died. All told, the storm left Estes with $16 million in hardware losses.

Since then, IT executives at the Richmond-based trucking giant have hustled to make sure the company is far better prepared should a disaster of any kind strike again. "We are not distinguishing between different types of disasters we might have to endure. We are concentrating on how we would run operations, regardless of what might happen to our facilities in Richmond," says Dick Cosby, systems administrator in Estes' electronic data processing services department.

Estes executives realized that in its effort to guard against potential damages, the company should charge forth on several fronts and blend both new and traditional storage technologies.

For instance, Estes pieced together a new infrastructure, complete with software that allows data to be whisked off-site immediately. The new architecture is built around IBM System i platforms and wraps in the vendor's System Storage DS8100 disk systems and TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Servers. Associated software includes Flash­Copy and the Backup Recovery and Media Services application, also from IBM.

In settling on the components that would support Estes' new storage and business continuity plans, company officials decided without hesitation to mirror the new architecture in a hurricaneproof backup site in Mesa, Ariz. "If we lose a building in Richmond, users can now get access through the Internet or a VPN connection to our systems in Arizona," says Cosby.

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