Disaster management

Emergency software solutions for businesses, homeland security.

By: Gwen McNamara
   Better safe than sorry.
   In the wake of the blackout last August and heightened alerts of terrorist attacks, many area businesses are taking that advice to heart.
   "It’s never been more important to have your data backed up and be ready for any kind of emergency, especially in this time of terrorism," said Vicki Contavespi, public relations manager for ASIS International, a leading professional organization dedicated to helping businesses improve security.
   "It used to be that you could just buy insurance," added John McBride, SPHR, the director-elect of the Garden State Council of the Society for Human Resources Management. "But now businesses need to take everything from business continuity to disaster recovery into account. Emergency management and data recovery have become real hot topics."
   Recognizing this trend, two West Windsor companies are leading the way in offering emergency management or data storage solutions.
   Sterling Management Solutions Corp., a privately held company on Roszel Road, has developed a range of integrated software solutions designed to keep all levels of employees informed and out of danger during an emergency situation.
   "We can work with products most companies already have — computers, cell phones, PDAs, etc. — to create a system so that if an emergency happens, all employees can not only be notified and told what to do, but also communicate back with you to fully explore and understand the current situation," said Robert Sobol, chief operating officer for Sterling.
   "Say a fire breaks out in your office," he continued. "With our software technology, employees outside, for instance, could be notified via a text message on a cell phone to come in late or meet at an alternate location — while those inside could be directed where to go and have full interactivity departmentally or even communicate with emergency personnel."
   Sterling can work with a company of any size to develop an emergency management plan, as well as improve business continuity or security and disaster recovery, Mr. Sobol added.
   The company has been so successful in working with clients like The Bank of New York and Bloomberg, according to Sol Klinger, founder and chief technology officer for Sterling, that the federal government is now interested in what they have to offer.
   Sterling, which was founded in 1990 and currently has a staff of about 20 employees, was recently invited to participate in the Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (JWID) by the Pentagon.
   JWID, an annual event sponsored by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provides federal and local government representatives, private industry and U.S. and coalition military officials a chance to check out and demonstrate new and emerging information technologies in a simulated war environment.
   This year’s JWID, scheduled to take place in June and July, will focus on homeland security and defense technologies, Mr. Sobol said.
   "We are honored to bring our business solutions to JWID," Mr. Klinger said. "I can’t go into too much detail about what we’ll be bringing to the table, but I believe our Virtual Command Center and other emergency software solutions have great military and homeland security potential."
   Meanwhile, a leading global data storage company in West Windsor — Princeton Softech on Campus Drive in Carnegie Center — is giving businesses a leg up in recovering after an emergency or disaster.
   "For companies, or even the government, the speed with which they can retain or access information becomes critically important," said Lisa Cash, president and CEO of Princeton Softech. "Our software helps separate out the essential information and archive the rest to improve efficiency."
   Using Princeton Softech’s technology, all data remains within the customer’s IT infrastructure, but active data remains in a live database in the production or online environment and archived data is stored on a storage medium — tape, disk, Content Addressed Storage device, etc., Ms. Cash explained. That storage device can reside physically at the business site or offsite, depending on the customer’s preference.
   Should a power outage or system shutdown take place, Princeton Softech customers would be able to speed up recovery by having essential business information at their fingertips, she said.
   "By separating out non-essential information, some of our customers have reported being able to reduce the time it takes to recover after a disaster from 48 hours to six hours — and time, in these kinds of situations, really can be paramount," Ms. Cash said.
   The software is also helping companies reduce costs associated with meeting compliance standards.
   "There’s a lot more compliance or regulatory issues now on how long companies have to hang onto certain data," Ms. Cash said. "All these extra measures are adding about 23 percent in additional information technology expenditures for most companies, but our software allows companies to run more efficiently and helps reduce these rising costs."
   Since bringing its archiving technology to market in 1999, data storage has grown into a $4 billion market, of which Princeton Softech has about a 56 percent market share, Ms. Cash said.
   "We’ve had tremendous success and really grown 100 percent each year," she said. "We’ve got 2,000 customers in 30 different countries with offices in London, Paris, Milan, Sydney and Munich, not to mention 200 employees worldwide. We’re looking forward to what the future will hold."