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Devastated on 9-11; eSpeed Handles Blackout with Ease

Advest rerouts calls to get around branches affected by the blackout.

After rebounding from the Sept. 11 tragedy, eSpeed -- a spin off of Cantor Fitzgerald that also operates one of the main electronic trading systems for Treasury bonds -- navigated the blackout with a well-rehearsed contingency plan.

"Something we firmly believe in is, don't wait until an event occurs to determine whether the environment is going to work," says Joseph Noviello, chief information officer of eSpeed.

When the power shut off along the East Coast, darkening eSpeed's headquarters on East 57th St., it made a smooth transition to its primary backup facility in Rochelle Park, N.J.

Once the facility detects a power loss, it immediately activates UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) devices, says Noviello. "If it had been an intermittent glitch, the UPS devices would have transitioned from battery to diesel power," he says. But in this case it wasn't, so it needed to get supplemental power from the generators, he explains.

eSpeed's staff at Rochelle Park, where its primary data center is housed, was able to continue the business for that day. Watching to see whether power would come back for the next day, eSpeed activated its contingency plan, which consisted of deploying additional staff to Rochelle Park for the next day's operations.

In Cantor Fitzgerald's case, staff was moved to three different locations. Back-office-operational personnel were sent to Rochelle Park to do clearance and settlement, while trading, sales and brokerage personnel were deployed in Darien, Conn. and Shrewsbury, N.J.

Even though Darien lost power, eSpeed used generators and UPS devices to restore whatever power problems it was having throughout Friday. Since the Shrewsbury facility runs on a generator too, "There was no fear of a power loss there," says Noviello.

As part of its rehearsals, eSpeed makes sure that it always has its fuel tanks topped off. "We exercise them weekly, so we always start our generators and we go through a cycle and make sure they're operational," he says.

"If there was ever a failure of higher magnitude, eSpeed would kick into an international contingency plan in Europe where it has a primary data center and a backup-contingency plan in London," says Noviello.

On the chance that customers can't get to their offices, as during Sept. 11 when they were trading from hotel rooms and other off-beat locations, eSpeed provides connectivity through multiple points of access, including the Internet.

But Noviello maintains that although there was light trading activity on Friday, all of eSpeed's customers were present. "Maybe it was the result of all the hard work that people put into their systems, LANs and contingency sites, post 9-11," he says. Ivy is Editor-at-Large for Advanced Trading and Wall Street & Technology. Ivy is responsible for writing in-depth feature articles, daily blogs and news articles with a focus on automated trading in the capital markets. As an industry expert, Ivy has reported on a myriad ... View Full Bio

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