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Success Of Disaster Recovery Relies On Planning, Practice

Minutes after the employees in Kemper's casualty business began evacuating the World Trade Center's North Tower, an emergency response team at the company's Long Grove, Ill., headquarters began recovery efforts.

InformationWeek Staff

January 18, 2002

2 Min Read

Minutes after the employees in Kemper's casualty business began evacuating the World Trade Center's North Tower, an emergency response team at the company's Long Grove, Ill., headquarters began recovery efforts.

By day's end, Kemper had located 189 unused desktops, which, along with 150 notebooks, networking gear, and other equipment, were on a truck bound for Kemper's offices in Princeton and Berkeley Heights, N.J. Within 48 hours, about a dozen Long Grove IT staffers arrived to help the New Jersey IT staff set up systems for the newly displaced workers in offices there and in Melville, N.Y., as well as for those who'd be working from home. By Sept. 17, most of the 225 employees were back at work.

Employees at Kemper's Trade Center office had been connected to five Windows NT servers containing about 100 Gbytes of data, mostly related to E-mail and internal insurance applications. The office was the company's largest distributed office in a "hub and spoke" distributed computing model, says Rick Dale, corporate VP of IT. All but the previous day's and that morning's data had been backed up on tape to headquarters; Kemper was able to recreate lost transactions. But Kemper is reconsidering its practice of not immediately shipping daily backups to Long Grove.

About 140 of Kemper's casualty staff have moved into new headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which is being reconfigured for the division's needs, says Ron Roecker, CIO of Kemper Casualty. The Trade Center office was connected to Long Grove via high-speed T1 lines, and Long Grove provided Internet access through DS3 connections. A similar distributed computing and telecom setup, expected to be finished by midyear, is being configured. The division is also migrating PCs to Windows XP, which had been planned before Sept. 11.

Kemper's emergency response team, which rehearses three times a year, was well-prepared for the crisis, Dale says. "Disaster recovery isn't just academic," he adds. "Its success relies on commitment, planning, practice, and living it."

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