It's Hurricane Season: Are We Ready?

Posted September 8, 2014
Category Company News

It’s September and we’re at the peak of hurricane season on the Gulf Coast and the question we’re asked most often is what has J.W. Allen done to maintain operations in the event of a storm. Simply stated since Hurricane Katrina [1] J.W. Allen has invested significant resources in an effort to ensure to the best of our ability operations continue with as short a delay as is possible.

The major step taken was to position our network servers out of the immediate area of our offices into a hardened data center capable of withstanding a category 5 hurricane. This facility has redundant power sources and UPS circuits, equipment cooling, and internet access backups so the total loss of network access is considerably less likely to occur than with our original configuration.

Having our network servers housed in this facility has the added year round benefit of being behind multi levels of security; onsite security personnel, patrol monitoring, video surveillance, biometric and access card, and man-trap access to data center floor.

In the event an evacuation of the New Orleans metropolitan is necessary J.W. Allen staff has been identified who will continue to support the business once they’ve settled in at remote locations. While these staff members are in transit other staff, who will be sheltering in place locally, will continue their work at the office as long as it’s safe to do so. The evacuated staff will back up their counterparts still in the office and “pick up the baton” should local communications be lost.

How can we do this? Our office has been configured in a manner that even when working in the office we are technically working remotely through the data center. The bottom line is if we can get to the internet we have access from anyplace in the world to all applications used day to day in handling your business.

Are we claiming these steps are a 100% guarantee of our being able to remain operational? Unfortunately given the unpredictable nature of hurricanes and not being able to foresee the level of metro infrastructure damages no one could make such a claim. But know your shipments are as important to us as they are to you so our ultimate goal is to maintain the ability to provide as seamless a service as is physically possible.

While we hope never to have to put our contingency plan into operational status we are confident in the steps taken to build a “remote” office and am equally confident you’ll be very satisfied with the business continuity that has been realized due to these efforts.


[1] Hurricanes are rated on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale from 1 to 5. Category 5 hurricanes, the most severe storm rating, have wind speeds of 157 mph (252 km/h) and higher. Hurricane Katrina maximum sustained winds were 175 mph (280 km/h) with gusts to 215 mph (344 km/h).

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