Worldata Ready for Next Hurricane

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Worldata Inc. is making itself strong enough to withstand the wrath of nature and man.

The Boca Raton, FL, list brokerage and management firm completed a two-year disaster recovery and hurricane preparedness plan by bolstering its headquarters building. It also signed a 20-year lease to rent part of Blackstone Group's T-Rex Corporate Park two miles away.

"We're in a cycle of hurricane seasons, and everything we're hearing is that the hurricanes will be prevalent, and it can definitely impact those businesses that are not prepared," said Jay Schwedelson, corporate vice president of Worldata. "Most of the other firms within our industry located in our area had to shut down last year."

Hurricane Wilma caused that chaos in October. Like some of its more fortunate peers, Worldata relied on generators to keep the office functioning and data safe from thieves. The idea was to avoid interruption of service to clients nationwide.

Nothing is being left to chance this time. Worldata's new backup site is regarded as one of the most secure structures in the Southeast. The 5,000-square-foot location was the home of IBM Corp.'s Boca Raton office for many years.

"We're only going to be there if our headquarters is compromised," Mr. Schwedelson said. "It has the ability to hold about 50 members of our staff, which would be roughly half of our national workforce. That facility is a category 5 level. It's in the process of being built out.

"We're going to keep it empty," he said, "but make sure that systems there are continually synched with our data center here."

Worldata has additional redundancy with servers and a virtual private network in Springfield, VA, near Dulles International Airport.

Such redundancy is wise. Dave Klein, CEO of list brokerage and management firm Macromark, Brewster, NY, experienced problems when the hurricanes hit Florida last year.

"I don't know if it affected the mailing schedule as much as it affected [mailers'] ability to use the lists that they wanted to mail," he said. "Certain categories of marketers and list companies in health and financial [services] are heavily concentrated in Florida, so anybody in those markets were affected."

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