Volume 4, Number 10 -- March 22, 2007

Disaster Recovery in a Truck Unveiled by IBM, Cisco

Published: March 22, 2007

by Alex Woodie

When a disaster like Katrina hits, large swaths of infrastructure, such as power grids and communication lines, are taken out, compounding the difficulties of recovery. To help companies, organizations, and first-responders cope during the first hours or days following a disaster, IBM and Cisco Systems yesterday unveiled a new service that bundles electrical generators, phones, satellite and wireless connections, Windows servers, and software into portable units that can be transported by foot or truck into a disaster area.

IBM's Business Continuity and Resiliency Services (BCRS) is no stranger to disasters. The IBM division, like its primary competitor Sungard, maintains scores of data centers across the continent running thousands of servers that can be used to recover clients' operations and keep it going for a while if their primary IT resources go down.

The TCK from IBM and Cisco provides 300 kbps of satellite-connected throughput for phones and computers.

More recently, BCRS has move away from the permanent hot site model in favor of more mobile disaster recovery solutions. This week at the Federal Office Systems Exposition (FOSE) conference in Washington D.C., IBM's BCRS division and Cisco teamed up to deliver "IBM Management Services for Crisis Response," a collection of offerings designed to put mobility front and center in the first-responder's playbook.

The Crisis Response offerings are pre-bundled packages that are designed to provide a one-stop emergency response communications network. Instead of forcing companies, governmental organizations, and first-responder groups to work with different vendors to assemble the equipment and communication services they'll need to establish a presence at the site of a disaster, the Crisis Reponses offering puts it all together for them.

IBM and Cisco unveiled four Crisis Response offerings yesterday at FOSE. They include the tactical communications kit (TCK), a suitcase-size kit that includes a BGAN satellite antenna that provides up to 300 kbps of voice or data bandwidth that can be shared among wired and wireless phones and computers. It ships with two wired phones and four wireless handsets that nestle in the lid, but it can support up to 16 phones, although only eight can be used at any given moment. The offerings also include a "fog cutter" (FC) device, which is a server-rack-size module that provides voice, data, and video capabilities as a mobile or fixed asset.

Moving up in size, we have the network emergency response vehicle (NERV I), a sport utility vehicle (SUV) providing a medium-scale network, communications and information-based services. At the top of the Crisis Response food chain is the command network emergency response vehicle (NERV III), a heavy-duty, six-wheeled truck that delivers a large-scale network, communications, and information-based services.

The NERV I (right) and NERV III are self-contained data and communications centers designed to be deployed into disaster areas.

Each platform consists of commercial, off-the-shelf hardware and software from IBM, Cisco, and other vendors, while the NERVs come with their own electrical generators. The Intel-based BladeCenter and System x servers used in the offerings run Microsoft Windows. Support for Linux on Intel- and IBM's POWER-based servers, including the System i and System p, is planned for later this year, an IBM spokesman says.

Philippe Jarre, a vice president with BCRS, says the new offerings address all three phases of crisis: readiness, response, and recovery. "This exciting new partnership with Cisco represents the state-of-the-art approach in helping our clients protect and improve their business operations by providing the industry's only true end-to-end crisis response solution," he says.


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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
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