IT was prepared for Hurricane Rita
By Deni Connor, Network World, 09/26/05
"The information technologies' help desk is currently closed due to weather conditions caused by Hurricane Rita, and the University
of Houston Downtown has decided to close the university."
That's the message callers heard late last week when they called Hossein Shahrokhi, executive director of IT at the school.
That is, if they even were able to get their calls through to Houston, as the fourth-largest city in the U.S. prepared to
lock down for Rita's Category 4 strike.
Shahrokhi is one of 1.3 million residents in Texas who the mayors of Galveston, Corpus Christi and Houston ordered to evacuate
last Wednesday morning. With Hurricane Katrina so fresh in mind, these cities aren't taking chances.
Other IT managers in Houston reached by cell phone reported that even if they did want to go to work, it would be next to
"I'm probably going to stay in Houston, because I didn't get any gas and there's no gas available," says James Taylor, IT
manager for SPX Valves and Controls.
He spent last Wednesday and Thursday preparing for Rita.
"We're in the middle of getting everything tightened down," Taylor says. SPX is located just 7 miles inland from the Gulf
"The company itself is shutting down [Friday]. We're doing backups on the server and we push data up to our Charlotte, N.C.,
location just in case the server gets buried," he says.
SPX doesn't have a hot back-up site, so its staff has been doing tape backups and saving user data to a disk that will be
carried offsite. The company's business operations rely primarily on ERP software from J.D. Edwards, which runs on systems
in North Carolina and Kansas City, Kan.
"So if everything disappears from here today, people can still do transactions through J.D. Edwards, because all we need is
a network line," he says.
Taylor says of all his systems at SPX, his phone systems are most at risk.
"We have an older system with battery backups, but we don't have a hot backup for that either," Taylor says. "We've established
800 lines to our Wisconsin site for customers and employees."
He thought about moving his servers out of the facility but decided against it.
"Right now trying to get out of Houston is impossible - you really risk getting into a wreck and the servers are safer here,"
Taylor says. "We are going to tie them down, move the low servers to the top of the rack, unplug everything and then cover