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New Orleans Parish School Board

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Networkers Live Conference -- Users struggling with the day-to-day challenges of managing storage should spare a thought for Peggy Villars Abadie, executive director of the New Orleans Parish School Board, whose organization had to somehow secure its data in the chaos of Hurricane Katrina. (See Bank Battens Hatches, Hurricanes Spark Security Threats, and Beware of Hurricanes.)

Speaking here this week, Abadie described a scenario that is every CIO's nightmare. "We lost so much hardware," she explained. "We were able to gather up about 35 to 40 percent of our prior assets [but] 10 to 15 percent was not salvageable."

As well as ravaging the board's storage and server infrastructure, the exec said that her networking gear was also decimated. "We lost a lot of LAN switches, core switches, and routers to humidity -- even when the waters receded, there was no air conditioning to dry out the technology."

Looting was also a big issue. "We had [just] deployed 94 videoconferencing units from Polycom [and] now we have eight."

With sensitive data on its hardware, the school board also faced the challenge of making sure that this information did not fall into the wrong hands. "The city was dangerous, people were living in the schools," said the exec, explaining that she was forced put out an RFP to find a vendor to salvage whatever data was available from schools' hardware.

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