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World Trade Center explosion sends managers scrambling.

The Feb. 26 World Trade Center bombing was a major disaster that sent companies scrambling to maintain voice and data communications, but timing could have been worse.

"It was fortunate for us that it happened on a Friday afternoon," said Frank Lopez, vice president and director of corporate services for Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, located on the 103rd floor of the trade center (WTC). "We had the weekend to implement our disaster recovery plans."

It was also fortunate that Lopez happened to be at the bank's Piscataway, N.J., office the afternoon WTC was bombed. "We started immediately to implement the plan here, and now we are operating 100% here."

The bank has Northern Telecom SL1 PBXs in both sites, networked via T1, and has been able to "cannibalize" the WTC unit for digital and analog cards to beef up the New Jersey PBX.

By 3 p.m., 10 members of the bank's staff arrived at Piscataway and the backup wire room was implemented. "We were back in business by 3:30 and haven't had a problem since then," said Lopez.

Over the weekend, the bank identified which of the 100 New York staffers were vital and would be needed Monday. Bank representatives were also able to get into WTC on Sunday and retrieve work left behind Friday.

"We had to make sure all the work that had been posted Friday was processed," said Lopez. "We were able to finish that by Sunday evening so we didn't have to play catchup."

What was first projected as a "10-day ordeal," as Lopez put it, grew to look like a two-month recovery.

"We have been doubling up people at workstations and installing more phones and DEC equipment. Little by little we are getting more staff coming over and setting them up with what they need. We have made trips daily to the New York office and have taken out PCs and other equipment."

"We were able to get New Jersey Bell to give us an additional eight trunks of DID by Monday afternoon. At New York, apparently our UPS system went below the threshold of 43 volts and the switch tripped. We weren't able to forward our calls to the New Jersey site. We went to our backup plan, which is to get our trunks forwarded to the New Jersey office."

New York Telephone, AT&T and WilTel were "outstanding" in their response, Lopez said. Calls to the main PBX number in New York are forwarded to New Jersey, incoming 800 lines have been rerouted, and calls to DID numbers in New York get a message to call the New Jersey number.

Flooding, not cable damage, presented the major problem. The 40,000 telephone lines and 30,000 data lines of the communications infrastructure came through in relatively good shape.

Roger Cawley of Teleport Communications Group said calls through the B-6 node (located in the sixth basement level) were rerouted through five other available nodes. "B-6 was chosen because it was a secure facility and it proved to be just that," Cawley said.

Telerate Systems, which has a major network node at the WTC, has been able to maintain business as usual, "but with a lot of nervous people," said Al Bieber, telecomm director.

"That node was out right after the event," Bieber said. Essentially all of our private lines radiate out of that location. Most of them are provided by New York Telephone, with some lines from Teleport."

Teleport was out most of the weekend, but those lines came back up in time for business Monday and have worked since then, Bieber said. The New York Tel lines, out of a central office at 2 World Trade Center, were not affected.

"Most of our activity has been on behalf of a trading company that has World Trade Center offices, Cantor Fitzgerald. We helped them relocate and set up in the World Financial Center. We are building a computer center there that is still vacant, and they moved in."

The New York City Department of Telecommunications and Energy (DTE) immediately implemented its Mutual Aid and Restoration Agreement.

That unique agreement was just one year and one week old at the time of the blast. It brings together 14 competitive carriers who serve the Twin Towers area in a conference call. All partners came on "the bridge" immediately, and worked cooperatively to ensure uninterrupted communications to firms in the Towers and vicinity.

"The agreement worked exactly as planned, allowing us to assess the situation quickly and maintain an open channel for carriers to communicate with each other in the emergency," Bill Squadron, DTE commissioner told Communications News.

DTE was happy to note that the WTC infrastructure was not damaged significantly. Switching equipment, backbone cabling, etc., that was not in the direct blast area remains in good shape.

During the initial hours of the crisis, the public network handled about 700,000 calls to and from WTC. New York Telephone rerouted 6,050 phone lines for dislocated customers.

Dean Witter Reynolds and Euro Brokers both moved some of their operations from the Trade Center to New York Tel's offices at 100 Church St. At a command center in the lobby of the New York Tel building at 140 West St. the Port Authority was arranging for tenants to retrieve essential documents.

The two AT&T 5ESS switches at the nearby World Financial Center (which was not in the immediate area of the blast) got a lot of use.

"We had great cooperation with carriers, customers, and vendors and that saved the day," Cawley said.

Frank DeLuca of SunGard Disaster Recovery Services said his company immediately contacted its WTC clients and talked them through the initial panic. Five customers did declare disasters and worked through the vendor's hot sites in New Jersey and Philadelphia.

"Three customers are running fully here and two are running in parallel," said DeLuca, who is based in Philadelphia. "There are three large IBM users, a large DEC and a large Tandem Cyclone. We use a lot of switched services, such as Accunet, switched 56 and 9.6 to stimulate leased lines."

What was different about this disaster, noted Comdisco's Raymond Hipp, was that past recoveries have involved mainly mainframe operations. This time, there was a "people-intensive recovery" as a result of the migration to local area networks.

With less than 15 minutes to evacuate the WTC complex, companies were not able to remove critical equipment and documents. They had to rely on hot site facilities that supported multiple computer platforms and provided workspace and communications capabilities.

Bottom line, notes John Jackson of Comdisco, was that "companies that had planned ahead were able to organize recovery teams and quickly resume business operations."

A pair of banks were able to resume business (nearly) as usual after they relocated 60 employees to a backup data center on Staten Island.

Asahi Bank and Yasuda Trust Bank declared disasters and moved their operations to Telehouse International's backup facility. They are able to handle funds transfer over the SWIFT network and do securities settlement.

"These clients long ago recognized the vulnerability of New York's infrastructure to disaster," said Mark Kaplan of Telehouse. "The (WTC) event was covered by their very detailed disaster plan."

Service for MCI's international messaging service, including telex, electronic mail and fax, was provided for users through their 222 Broadway location, two blocks from WTC, using sales and demonstration equipment. Anyone who needed help, not just customers, could use the equipment.

As the evening wore on, many customers chose alternative routing services...forwarding telex or fax transmissions to numbers elsewhere. With auto-rerouting capability as an option on 800 numbers, faxes, E-mail and other services, many users now are considering establishing alternative sites before disaster hits.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Tanzillo, Kevin
Publication:Communications News
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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