‘Businesses have learned from 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy that when disaster strikes, they have to act quickly,” says Joe Riscica, executive sales director at American Business Continuity Centers, Princeton.

With its corporate office in Woodbury, New York, the company celebrated the opening of the Forrestal Center workgroup recovery facility earlier this summer. CEO Gregory Tellone told guests the Princeton location is continuing the company’s efforts to deliver industry-leading disaster recovery and business continuity services throughout the northeast. The Princeton site offers clients more than 158,200 square feet of space; two separate PSE&G feeds from two separate substations; three emergency generators; fiber carried by Comcast, AT&T, Sunesys, and Lightpath; and three cooling towers with a closed loop system.

While the Princeton location is new, the work of Continuity Centers (CC) is familiar to many New Jersyans. In 2012 CC kept at least three companies up and running in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy: Jet Blue Airways, Cedar Reality Trust, and Four Star Salon Services. In addition to their work dealijng with damage caused by severe weather, both Riscica and Tellone have had first-hand experience with problems resulting from terrorist attacks, successfully recovering business operations after the September 11 attacks in New York City. But while hurricanes and potential terrorist activity come to mind when thinking about the need for a disaster recovery plan, Riscica reminds us to not forget about less pervasive events, like human error, equipment failure, or damage caused by broken water pipes.

Designing a disaster recovery (DR) plan is not a “one size fits all” matter, Riscica says. CC’s solutions are designed to give business owners the types and levels of service that match their needs, and clients pay a monthly fee based on the level of service they require.

CC defines its services in terms of people, technology, and business.

The people component focuses on fulfilling the work environment needs of employees. In addition to the Princeton site, CC offers work group facilities in Woodbury and Hawthorne, New York; Allentown and Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; Marlborough, Massachusetts; and Waterbury, Connecticut. The company also offers other solutions for people who don’t want to commute to these sites.

CC offers four types of work environments: Shared, Dedicated, Diversified, and Anywhere.

Workgroup Shared is one of CC’s connected facilities where the client’s employees can work in person. The facility includes desktops, phones, printers, networking, and internet access. All of this equipment is backed by generators and supported by state-of-the-art recovery solutions.

Workplace Dedicated is a focused, custom-built environment. CC constructs, optimizes, and maintains facilities to match a client’s exact specifications to ensure they have the ideal workspace available when needed. “It’s a place to call your own,” Riscica says, “and you have none of the headaches of managing a build out, leasing, zoning, HVAC, and inspections, etc.”

Workgroup Diversified is a solution offering satellite recovery suites located throughout the nation. Workstations are complete with a wide range of business tools.

Workgroup Anywhere is a solution that offers office space throughout North America. CC will provide equipment and onsite support as requested.

The technology component focuses on management, planning and testing, equipment, networks, and storage. The solutions include an instant business recovery portal that allows clients to use a “Recover My Server” icon, giving them access to their critical data and applications within an hour; complete replication of the client’s operating system, business applications, and data; and granular recovery techniques that let a business prioritize applications and files in order of importance.

The technology also includes efficient use of storage space and bandwidth by cutting back on unnecessary duplication, in CC’s words, “source side global deduplication;” 24/7 management of all the client’s needs; and ongoing recovery testing and client reports on every test.

CC provides virtual private networks for individual business locations, remote locations, and mobile workforces. Recovery details are protected by datastore-level encryption and per-session security tokens. Finally, for old data that one might need to access in the future, CC offers tape archiving.

The business component supports clients who opt to work from their place of business when it is possible. CC can deliver whatever is needed to one’s office or makeshift work zone. This service includes diesel generators, satellite dishes, PCs, servers, printers, phones, and furniture. CC can also provide power for all the client’s energy needs; connectivity to internet and telecommunications resources including call forwarding to a satellite location; and communication alerts (Emonify) to personnel with the information they need to execute their own continuity responsibilities.

Riscica, who grew up in a family that had no background in computer science, became interested in the field of information technology in high school. Although his father would eventually work for Goldman Sachs processing trade statements, he worked in a garment factory while Riscica was growing up in Maspeth, New York. His mother, a former executive assistant, was the family homemaker.

After high school he studied at a community college and landed his first “real job” at Goldman Sachs which started his career path in IT.

Riscica has been helping companies stay in business for nearly three decades. After his successful efforts in managing and guiding disaster recovery and continuity following the 9/11 attacks in New York, he was invited to share his knowledge internationally and spoke to groups in France, Ireland, Germany, Portugal, and Japan. He was also interviewed by several trade and financial magazines.

Throughout his career, he has held executive and managerial positions for SunGuard Availability Services, IBM, Sema Group, American Re-Insurance, Global Disaster Recovery Company, and has worked with several national and international companies as an independent IT consultant.

Riscica’s advice to business owners who don’t have a disaster recovery plan is simple. Get started now.

If you’re thinking about creating a plan and don’t know where to start, ask yourself, how will you prioritize your needs if you lose equipment, can’t access your data or the internet? What will you need right away and within 24 hours? What can wait for a few days, a week, or more? If you design a plan with CC, be sure to test it to insure that employees understand their roles. Testing can be done either through simulation or through verbal reviews. Riscica recommends that reviews take place quarterly.

Riscica says that sometimes business owners or CEOs will take a risk rather than develop a DR plan because they can’t foresee potential damage. When disaster strikes, the damage is visible, but without a plan, it could be too late to recover. “Your business needs to be resilient,” Riscica says.

Continuity Centers, 500 College Road East, Princeton 08540. 516-422-7040. www.continuitycenters.com.

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