When the World Trade Center came under attack, David Annis was thousands of miles away from The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.'s offices at Seven World Trade Center. In fact, Annis, the company's group senior vice president and CIO, was not able to return to the United States for more than a week to oversee recovery efforts.However, thanks to the combination of disaster planning, vendor support and quick work on the part of the carrier's crisis management committee, all 330 employees who worked for the five Hartford business units were working at alternative sites the following Monday.

In fact, within 24 hours of the disaster, the Hartford, Conn.-based carrier was sending teams of technicians to one of the company's contingency sites on Long Island to install PCs, local-area networks, servers and phone lines.

"We began diverting PCs the day of the attack and set up a Web site and a new voice mail system to support communication to all of our affected employees," Annis says.

Critical data saved

Despite the fact that the building collapsed and destroyed all of the carrier's onsite servers, LANs and PCs, The Hartford did not suffer a catastrophic loss of key information.

"A majority of our critical customer information and records was stored on servers in other locations, so we didn't have to recover any critical business records," Annis says.

Employees are encouraged to save their files to supporting servers, and those employees who do not save files to the servers back up their data on floppy disks or CDs.

Furthermore, data that was stored on servers housed at Seven World Trade Center was backed up onto tape and taken offsite every night. As employees were evacuating the building, one systems administrator grabbed back-up tapes that had not been sent out. "It was a heroic act, but one that we don't encourage," Annis adds.

The task of getting the company's two alternative sites up and running quickly was aided by efforts from suppliers. "Our voice communication vendors were able to reroute calls that normally would have gone to Seven World Trade Center to our Hartford, Conn., headquarters, where they were then sent out to the new locations,"

Annis says.

On the move

The horrific attack on the World Trade Center claimed 176 employees of Chicago-based Aon Corp., which leased more than 219,000 square feet in the south tower. Although Aon did not use the facility for processing transactions, it was a major telecommunications hub for its Northeast region.

The first order of business for Aon's disaster-response team was to restore the telecommunications network, which handled data, voice and Internet services for the carrier's offices in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. Immediately after the attack, a back-up ISDN system kicked in as planned, says June Drewry, Aon's executive vice president and CIO.

"We worked with AT&T and Verizon to reroute calls to the correct toll-free numbers across the United States and to ensure that we had enough capacity to handle Internet and network services across the Northeast," Drewry says. "In the aftermath out teams worked 20 hours a day restoring the network, finding new office space for 1,000 employees and getting new equipment."

Across the street from the Word Trade Center at 195 Broad Street, Andrew Cole, senior vice president and CIO of St. Paul Re, quickly called the company's data center manager in New Jersey when the first plane struck.

The company's plan called for an 80-seat, high-speed communications site in Hoboken, N.J., that's connected to the company's Philadelphia data center. However, the Hoboken space was taken by government agencies affected by the attack. Instead, St. Paul's disaster recovery vendor, SunGuard Recovery Services, set up a smaller space in Morristown, N.J.

"We sent in an army of technicians to add data ports, phone lines and set up PCs," Cole says. "Our plan called for us to be operations by Sept. 17, and we made it. All of our mission-critical systems, including phones and email, was restored, and phone calls made to New York now ring in our Morristown office."

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Digital Insurance content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access