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PCS offers clients new disaster-recovery service

Published:Tuesday | April 13, 2010 | 12:00 AM

With Jamaica prone to natural disasters and businesses at risk of system failures, Port Computer Services Limited (PCS) has taken the bold step to offer two new software solutions to allow for business continuity in the aftermath of a disaster or total system failure.

The solutions, an online back-up service, the first of its kind locally, and server hosting, are aimed at lessening the down time of businesses.

According to Andrew Baker, network and operations manager of PCS, the online back-up service will allow clients to have their business up and running within 24 hours after a system failure or natural disaster.

"Companies will be able to back up their data to a server located at PCS' data centre in Newport West. The data will then be replicated to another server at a secure off-site facility," Baker said. "Customers will also have the option to backup their data to a server at their local site and replicate to the PCS off-site facility."

Among its other services, PCS, a subsidiary of the Shipping Association of Jamaica, runs a 24/7 operation, actively monitoring data and ensuring the security and privacy of data.

Shipping Feature (SF) sat with Baker to learn more about this new software.

(SF): Why did PCS opt to offer this service?

Andrew Baker (AB): As you know, Jamaica is located in a hurricane belt. Our original point of reference was the port of Kingston, which is situated on the waterfront. However, we have realised that a lot of customers have not been looking at the value of their business, as it relates to how much it would cost the business to be down, and the productivity that would be lost in a disaster.

When we made our general assessment, we realised that this was a missing component in a lot of companies, as most companies did not have a disaster-recovery plan. This is the reason PCS chose to offer this service. The recent earthquakes in the region, and the devastation caused, solidified our decision.

SF: PCS is known for developing software solutions. Is this a PCS-original software or are you the authorised resellers, locally?

AB: It is a product for which PCS is the local partner. With that solution, we are able to back up the customers' data in real time and move it from their office to our back-up site.

It's a product that runs on different platforms - Linux, Windows ... any operating system. What it does, is move your data, in real time, from your central repository to our central back-up site.

SF: How does the service work?

AB: There are different aspects to the service. If you are a current PCS customer, meaning your physical infrastructure is connected to PCS, then the transition from your system to PCS' back-up site would be easier and there would be less cost associated with the set-up. However, if you are not a customer, no matter where you are in Jamaica, you can opt to use our Internet option and transfer your information via that medium.

SF: How does that work?

AB: The customer will be connected to a portal over the Internet, via subscription. The customer is then given a user name and other credentials. This allows for the software to be downloaded to the client's hardware/computer, thus connecting them to PCS. The data is also transferred in real time via this medium.

SF: What other options are available?

AB: PCS can also set up a direct connection to the back-up site from a customer's place of business.

SF: How much information can be stored?

AB: The system can store unlimited data.

SF: You mentioned that natural disasters played an important role in PCS' decision to offer this new service. Where is the back-up site located and is it safe from natural disasters?

AB: The site is built to withstand several types of natural disasters and is located in a secure area, 50 feet above sea level and several miles away from the coast, right here in Jamaica. It is technically positioned to facilitate back-up of all sites. In the event of a disaster, clients can be transported to the site to be able to access their business information.

SF: You said that a business can be up and running within 24 hours after a disaster or system failure. How is this facilitated?

AB: Yes, the software allows for a 24-hour turnaround time. However, this is also dependent on what the client has backed up. Some companies may not start off with moving all their mission-critical data at once. They may phase it over a period of time, depending on cost. But if you have decided to back up all your mission-critical data, they will be available to you in 24 hours.

SF: Will this new service be limited only to Jamaica?

AB: No. We will be offering it to our Caribbean neighbours as well.

SF: What size companies would require such a service?

AB: Small, medium and large corporations that need to be up and running immediately to lessen loss of productivity and earnings.

SF: What about the cost for set-up?

AB: It is quite affordable, especially for those who are already PCS customers. However, the service can be customised to suit the customers' needs. Also, clients can choose their payment option for subscription, be it monthly, quarterly or yearly.

SF: Why should customers choose PCS as opposed to another service provider?

AB: PCS runs a 24/7 operation so your data is actively monitored. We ensure that the system is up and running. Your privacy is also protected. PCS is a tried and proven software-development and hosting company that manages and hosts mission-critical data and systems for three of the most advanced port companies, along with other important users in the Caribbean region. We have a track record on which we build every single day.