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IT Industry Poised To Help in Harvey's Wake

Vendors and solution providers were poised to help in Hurricane Harvey's wake as the record-rain-producing storm made its third, and what looked like its final, pass at the Texas-Louisiana coast Wednesday.

Harvey first struck the Texas coast on Friday night, and as it lingered the storm dumped more than 50 inches of rain in some places, causing deep flooding over a wide area including Houston.

With public officials and infrastructure experts saying the storm recovery could take years, the process of restoring IT was still a lower priority for many businesses.

"A lot of people are in survival mode still," said Patrick Murray, a senior consultant with Houston-based ERGOS, one of the largest MSPs in South Texas. ERGOS, which didn't lose power or experience outages at its Houston datacenter, has been proactively checking on customer systems, even those that haven't called to check in.

"We've got ways to determine if this customer or that customer is affected and what part of the technology is affected," Murray said. "I would say a good 5 percent to 10 percent of our customers were hit pretty heavy."

One customer that was heavily affected has been spun up and virtualized. For such remote virtual environments, ERGOS uses a mix of its own ERGOS-branded cloud at the Houston datacenter and StorageCraft's cloud.

Other than that, Murray said, "We've had to do some mild file restores here and there where some customer offices are down due to power or due to flooding."

He credits that partly to the extensive backup and recovery checks the company ran before the storm and pre-storm queries that poured in even before the storm was officially upgraded to a hurricane last Thursday.

"The No. 1 question I got two days prior to the storm, since we anticipated things so much, was, 'Hey, are my backups working?' The second question was, 'Are my offsite backups working?'" said Murray. "I probably answered 50 of the same questions from internal colleagues and associates, as well as customers directly."

Special Offers
Some vendors ran special offers to help customers and partners in the affected area to mitigate the situation. While disaster recovery plans are best laid before a major weather event occurs, a slow-motion situation like rivers swelling to flood stage gave some customers and partners time to respond.

Infrascale created a program called "30 days free of Infrascale Cloud Backup to Mitigate the Damage of Harvey." A spokesman described the offer in an e-mail as "a complimentary, no-commitment offer that is valid for up to 30 days or until the impacted business (in SE Texas) is stabilized, whichever is longer. With Infrascale Cloud Backup they can backup their critical data to the cloud for safe keeping."

Relief Efforts
Other IT companies focused on the relief efforts in the immediate wake of the storm.

SolarWinds on Tuesday committed $75,000 for disaster relief efforts, with the money going to the American Red Cross of Central & South Texas Region, All Hands Volunteers and Feeding Texas. SolarWinds also offered a $2-to-$1 match for anything its U.S. employees donate to those organizations over the next 30 days, and the company is coordinating a volunteer effort by SolarWinds employees of 1,000 hours over the next six months.

"The impact on our neighbors here in Texas has been and continues to be devastating," said CEO Kevin B. Thompson of Austin-based SolarWinds in a statement. "This is a time when we as company -- and all of us as individuals -- need to step up and help as much as we can."

Microsoft on Monday donated money to the Red Cross. "Microsoft provided the American Red Cross with $100,000 as an initial step to help support those in Texas and across the Gulf coast affected by Hurricane Harvey. More help is needed, and the company and its employees pledged to do more," the company said in a statement.

Technology distributor Ingram Micro was also looking for opportunities to help, directly and in conjunction with its partner community, according to a spokesperson. "Ingram Micro and its Southern Star Chapter (part of the Trust X Alliance Community ) are keeping in close and consistent contact with its local members and neighboring members -- many of which relied on each other 12 years ago when the last disaster came in," the spokesperson said. "All have offered support, shelter and scale where needed, including Ingram Micro directly. Trust X Cares and the Southern Star Chapter have literally just set up a GoFundMe page to assist those in need. The goal is $10,000."

Backup service provider Carbonite was directing its philanthropic efforts to Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh's "Help for Houston" drive, a spokesperson said.

Update 9/1: ConnectWise on Thursday launched an effort specifically to help partners in the affected area regain their footing. "At a time of tragedy, we're here to help our partners survive as entrepreneurs and reestablish their successful businesses, so we're raising $750,000 to meet their needs," CEO Arnie Bellini wrote in a blog post. "You can make a difference for every one of these partners in a time of desperate need. ConnectWise will match all donations to ConnectWise.com/HelpNow. We'll match your donation 2-1 up to $250,000."

Bellini urged partners in need of help to reach out to ConnectWise with their information. "Whether it's now or in the days, weeks, and months to come, our long-term goal is to continue supporting our partners through recovery and rebuilding efforts," he wrote.

Posted by Scott Bekker on August 30, 2017 at 11:38 AM