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VDO Prepared For Hurricane Charley

Planning and disaster recovery processes allows firm to maintain deadlines (August 27, 2004)

VDO, Inc., a leading broadcast and cable design and on-air graphics firm, survived the recent storm, Hurricane Charley, with a level of split-second ingenuity and disaster recovery savvy that could only be executed by a company that creates the visual identity of dozens of leading local TV news shows around the country.

VDOs preparedness is indicative of a growing trend among smaller businesses that have adopted the business continuity processing strategies of much larger enterprises. As VDO works with high-bandwidth visual assets, including high-definition video and intensive graphic overlays, the company has a much more difficult task than financial services firms that, while migrating critical data, do not require multi-terabyte file archives.

The companys new 6,000-square foot office, in downtown Clearwater, had recently been occupied, only to require an almost immediate disaster recovery drill, requiring stacks of hard drives to be moved to safe locations.

?Had Charley hit the Tampa area as hard as some had predicted, our office might not be standing today, but our files and most importantly our clients work, would have survived intact, said Dianne Streyer, senior producer of VDO. ?We operate a business that requires every imaginable provision for lost time, as our client base is in broadcast and cable television, which is the most time-sensitive, pressurized deadline environment. In a way, Mother Nature can, at times such as this, become the ultimate mother of invention.

VDO mobilized its teams, including executive, design, and technical into groups that would maintain client assets with back-up disks and media, while securing safe locations beyond the storm front. This required a literal disassembling of the companys network, servers, and graphics systems, within a single day, and network backup prior to physical shutdown.

?We were in constant contact with one another, and had flawless fail-safe for our client jobs, said Darrell Chambers, founder and president of VDO. ?We are in the midst of major redesigns for several broadcast clients, and this job, as well as all others, suffered not one second, one frame, of downtime.

While Florida is a major production and post-production center, given its temperate climate, right-to-work status, and lower cost structures, the states ?sunshine tax sometimes wields a heavy ax to projects. Streyer notes that VDO has been well-ahead of its non-graphics-related small business cousins for years.

?We have riders in our insurance policy, in which we receive a check within 24 hours of storm damage, for example, with full replacement of equipment. This ensures that we can have a plug-and-play reassembly of our physical plant without downtime. Also, we have several ?key man policies in the event that one of our senior designers is injured. We continually have back-up provisions for both labor and equipment that most businesses would never have to deal with, because continuity is so vital to what we do, and our business can change drastically from one day to the next, states Streyer.

?This means that our clients are covered in every way, and have the security of knowing that their job will survive any storm. Unless you work in the production community, you wouldnt consider that a small-to-medium broadcast graphics design shop would have the capabilities of a major financial institution when it comes to disaster recovery, but that is in fact what we have.

?On a daily basis, we successfully manage projects that have the mental and emotional strain of a category 3 hurricane, and we do this for clients across the country, said Chambers.

While Charley was a once-in-a-century storm readying itself to hit the greater Tampa area, VDO will be prepared for any other major storm that comes their way.

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