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BrokerageAmerica's Blackout Begets Backup

When a fire gutted the New York brokerage firm's data center and knocked the firm offline, it sparked an initiative to speed up disaster-recovery plans.

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The fire knocked out BrokerageAmerica's electricity and voice and data lines, including T1s, DS-3s and a 100-Mbps Ethernet LAN. The firm didn't lose any data--all its data had been backed up to storage provider ManagedStorage. But BrokerageAmerica had been in the midst of moving its Unix-based trading system and Nasdaq servers from the old site to Internap, and this threw a wrench into the process of getting its remote sites connected to the new data center location.

The core of BrokerageAmerica's redundancy and backup strategy was relocating the data center to a 9-by-24-foot cage at Internap, as well as setting up redundant lines between Internap and the firm's Boston, San Francisco and Red Bank offices. After the fire on Saturday, the company set up a makeshift trading floor for its New York traders in one of Internap's conference rooms. The traders were up and running Monday afternoon around 3:30, just before the market closed. BrokerageAmerica, which supports the broker-dealer side of the financial industry, operated there for a few days, then set up a longer-term temporary trading floor at the data center of RoyalBlue, its ASP.

Almost Like HomeUsing the interim facilities, traders conducted their transactions just as they did back home. They logged onto the firm's RoyalBlue Fidessa front-end application servers through a RoyalBlue thin client on their desktops. Once they set up a stock purchase or trade, the application routed the order through a dedicated DS-3 to RoyalBlue's order-management back-end servers at RoyalBlue's site, which also resides at Internap. RoyalBlue handled the actual order and sent it on to Nasdaq's servers over another dedicated DS-3. BrokerageAmerica has now moved out of the interim facilities, but it continues to operate its trading system out of Internap. The firm's Windows 2000-based e-mail, back-office and other financial services application servers also run in the Internap cage.

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