How 9/11 changed datacentres and disaster recovery

The 9/11 tragedy was a wakeup call for the datacentre industry and the entire IT sector in general. Not only was there a huge loss of life but there was also a huge loss of intellectual property, data and enterprise capability on a scale that had never been conceived of before the attacks.

In fact and as Arthur Cole noted in a recent article for ITBusinessEdge, firms based in New York and the north-eastern USA, where there is little to fear from natural disasters such as earthquakes and tornadoes, were woefully underprepared for a major data loss in a disaster. For example: Bond trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald LP lost its primary datacentre along with 658 employees in the attack while Merrill Lynch, whose headquarters was not in the World Trade Center but was located right next to ground zero, lost its primary datacentre for six weeks.

Hence and in the ten years since 9/11, both disaster recovery and cloud storage have become high-growth areas in IT with a recent PC World article noting that ABI Research has predicted the global market for business continuity and disaster data-recovery products will grow from US$24.3 billion in 2009 to more than $39 billion in 2015. Moreover, PC World noted that IDC has estimated that the open networked disk storage market grew 15% from the second quarter of 2010 to the second quarter of 2011 and generated $4.8 billion in revenue.

However, ComputerWorld has pointed out that post 9/11 disaster recovery thinking, in part due to Katrina and other disasters that followed, has also shifted to keeping workers both working and informed when a disaster strikes and corporate IT systems go down. This has meant creating more flexible work environments to allow employees to work from home through the use of virtual private networks (VPNs), smart phones or other devices as well as the use of emergency notification service companies that offer automated call tree services.

In other words, post 9/11 disaster recovery thinking has moved beyond just backing up and securing the datacentre to take the whole enterprise and all employees into consideration.

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