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New Orleans Cold Storage Moves to Off-Site Hosting to Improve Disaster Recovery

Richard Holtzclaw IT manager with NOCS — Photo by Daymon Gardner


Customer: New Orleans Cold Storage
Headquarters: New Orleans, La.
Business: Warehousing, flash freezing and logistics of frozen food items
Challenge: Finding a suitable disaster recovery plan
Solution: Working with CMA Technology Solutions and Venyu to create an off-site hosted disaster recovery solution
Hardware: An IBM Power Systems 720
Software: RPG-based custom software

People living along the Gulf and East coasts of the U.S. often watch weather forecasts with dread. A small tropical storm can suddenly turn vicious, with high winds and tidal surges making landfall, flooding buildings, toppling power lines and inundating low-lying areas. People can be left without potable water, electricity and other essential services for days, weeks or even longer.

Many companies in these storm-prone regions take extra precautions with their computing environments. Servers, if not properly protected, backed up and co-located, can fail if they get hit by water or lose power. The potential results include lost business and revenue.

Hurricane Facts
Katrina Total fatalities: 1,833
Highest winds: 174 mph
Size: Category 5
Isaac Total fatalities: 34
Highest winds: 80 mph
Size: Category 1
SOURCE: National Hurricane Center, NOAA

Few companies know this better than New Orleans Cold Storage (NOCS). Shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area, some intrepid employees hopped in a boat and rescued the company’s IBM Power Systems* server from potential disaster—and then moved it to the comptroller’s home in Mississippi.

Not only did this daring rescue keep NOCS from ending up underwater in a business sense, but it also pushed the company to adopt more stringent disaster recovery (DR) measures. In this case, it involved leasing space on a Power Systems server located a fair distance from New Orleans. Should another hurricane hit, the company will be able to keep most of its operations afloat—no boat needed.

In the Crosshairs

NOCS essentially operates as a frozen-food way station, with poultry, fish and even pizza—much of it typically contained in large storage containers—being stored in a refrigerated environment at one of its four locations (two in New Orleans, one in Charleston, S.C., and one near Houston). Its customers then either ship their products across the U.S. or export them internationally. NOCS also offers blast-freezing services, where customers can drop items off for a quick chill and then pick them up again.

Logistics is a large part of what NOCS does. If a customer has its own truck fleet, NOCS will help them schedule pickups. Or, NOCS will work with brokers to assist them. “We’ll find the best deals and then handle everything the customers wants, including pickup, delivery, storage, the whole nine yards,” says Richard Holtzclaw, IT manager with NOCS.

Stringing all of these activities together are several custom-coded RPG applications running on a Power Systems server (most recently, a remotely hosted third-party Power* 720). All four of the company’s locations tap into this single system to add and access data. If that one system goes down, so does the company.

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at jjutsler@provide.net.

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