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U.S. Hosting Firm Readies For Rita

A major Web hosting firm in Houston has hunkered down in preparation for Hurricane Rita, boarding up its data centers, sending a small technical team to Kansas to open up shop there, mobilizing its cash reserves, and reducing its on-site staff to a minimum, said the company's chief executives in a series of messages to customers.

EV1Servers, which by U.K.-based Web tracking firm Netcraft's numbers, is the eighth-largest Web host, operates some 1.1 million host names and over 642,000 active sites. EV1Servers claims its networks oversee 1.5 percent of all U.S. traffic.

Its two Houston data centers are being prepared for the worst, chief executive Robert Marsh wrote in a message to customers Wednesday. "We anticipate that the coming storm will have no impact on our operations. However, we are prepared to deal with any eventuality."

The hosting firm's preparations include stockpiling 10,000 gallons of diesel for the four generators -- two at each data center -- that will provide backup power if necessary, activating lines of credit and withdrawing cash, dispatching technicians and their families to a secondary support center to Wichita, Kansas, and communicating with upstream bandwidth providers to make sure they have disaster and contingency plans in place.

"Preparations continue 24/7. A core staff of approximately 25 will be on hand throughout the storm. This includes a facilities specialist as well as an a/c specialist," Marsh said late Wednesday evening. "We are monitoring the storm on a continual basis. Our buildings are designed to withstand Cat[agory] 4 conditions. It would be a highly improbable situation for us to sustain a cat 4 this far inland. It is anticipated that we will see high Cat 3 conditions based upon the current track and our location."

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