Getronics taps into disaster fears

Getronics taps into disaster fears

Services giant Getronics has signed a lucrative disaster recovery contract with one of Queensland's top 20 accounting firms, Douglas Heck & Burrell, highlighting mounting pre-Y2K customer concerns.

The deal will see Getronics give Douglas Heck & Burrell access to its Mobile Recovery Centre (MRC), a truck fitted out as a self-contained mobile computer centre that is effectively an IT insurance policy.

Getronics did not reveal financial details of the services contract despite industry estimates suggesting it is valued at over $25 million.

According to Getronics, disaster recovery services continue to be a growth market, particularly as enterprises finalise Y2K preparations.

Getronics enterprise recovery services manager Frank Aue said opportunities such as the Douglas Heck & Burrell deal only occur where a services organisation is seen to be "genuine and capable of delivering the solutions customers require. It's a long-term business partnership just because of the nature of what we're dealing in," he said.

According to Aue, concerns over the seriousness of potential Y2K disasters remain in many boardrooms. In addition, many senior executives understand the effort required to cope with other disasters such as fire, flood or earthquake.

"Every customer has a different definition [of disaster recovery] because it means different things to different organisations," said Aue. The focus may include a company's call centre, accounting functions, how to deal with the press during a disaster, or manufacturing.

Getronics' MRC has a 60KVA diesel generator with 1100 litres of diesel to provide continuous electrical power for up to 12 days in the event of a disaster.

On board the truck is a wide range of Unix hardware from vendors such as HP, IBM, Sun and Compaq, as well as Intel-based technology, designed to enable a customer to continue normal business.

Douglas Heck & Burrell's director of IT, John Keenan, openly described the MRC as an insurance policy.

"We simply need to make a phone call and the truck will turn up, and we'll be able to continue within 24 hours as if nothing had happened. We needed to be sure we could provide the same service to our clients every day," he said.

In addition to the MRC, Getronics has also set up a hot Y2K rollover site for Douglas Heck & Burrell. Keenan said this is located in another building in another part of the city and on a different electricity grid.

"So if for some reason we weren't able to access the building or anything else relating to Y2K we could just take our staff to the rollover site."

He said the site is currently being completed with the intention of maintaining it until mid January 2000.

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