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Judy Weitz and Homeland Security

Judy Weitz and Homeland Security

Some time ago last year my ex-employer received an award that I felt was mis-given. I never did express my opinions about the situation but now that I no longer work for Compucast Interactive I feel I should speak freely about the situation.

While I was employed at Compucast Interactive as one of the lead developers in August of 2007 they received notiriety for being the model of “business preparedness” in the wake of a disaster, Katrina. Now granted there are 2 things that Compucast did perform as a service for local business which were great (not necessary exemplary, as anyone with a similar high profile client list would of done this) , they

  1. Setup several blast email lists for a few clients to communicate with employees
  2. Setup a job board for the hospitality industry

What they didn’t do, which was the claim that got them the notiriety in the first place, was secure live synced dedicated internet servers in two locations across the country in preparation of a disaster. This was an extreme stretching of the truth and play on peoples misunderstanding of technology. In my opinion they only reason that they were even recognized was the high profile of the clients that she had and the ability which she “gave” them to communicate, email.

Now “gave” is a relative term here, if you consider someone that purchases insurance for their car a hero because their insurance company “gave” the person that was a passenger in their car money for a much needed surgery after getting into an accident well, then Judy Weitz is indeed a hero. This is essentially the same as what happened.

Judy weitz says

With the business now located in two cities on opposite sides of the country, we were confident all Web sites would continue to function if a hurricane were to hit New Orleans.

I, as one who understands technology, would interpret this to mean that if a web business were to be “located” on two opposite sides of the country that a live synced backup of the data would be concurrently running. This would mean that they would have to have live synced dedicated internet servers in two locations across the country. This in fact was NOT the case at all. The actual situation was that they had a dedicated server hosting account with a company out of San Francisco that had a service level agreement for redundancy. This hosting company had redundant servers running in San Fransisco and Pennsylvania. This DOES NOT mean that Compucast made any sort of special technology based disaster plans or even themselves had live redundant servers it means that the hosting company had redundancy, an industry standard for hosting companies.

In this case it seems that the only reason she got this award was because of the high profile of her client, The New Orleans Bar Association a collection of local law professionals, and their connections with the government. In my opinion Judy Weitz did nothing more than ANY OTHER responsible web development agency in the local area or elsewhere, this is not deserving of a nationally recognized award.

Simplified: Compucast Interactive purchased a dedicated server hosting account with a company not based in New Orleans and with no specific internal plans for a redundant backup of the live data being transmitted on their clients sites or the databases of their internal sites. Because their hosting company was not located in New Orleans when Katrina hit their clients did not lose email connectivity and they did not lose any data on their sole dedicated server, is this exemplary/worthy of notiriety?

So I ask you:

[poll=1]

 
Comments

Hey Marc,

One of my clients was notified of this post and sent it along. Just in case someone stumbles upon it, I thought I’d correct your misunderstandings.

First of all, congratulations on the baby … and I hope you are happy.

#1
We did not receive an award from Homeland Security; they met with us at their request after our business was featured in an Atlanta newspaper due to the hospitality jobs site we created after Katrina. (We did receive a few other awards which were unrelated to this; one of them led us to Atlanta which is why we were interviewed — one of our other clients had nominated us for this completely separate award which had nothing to do with redundant servers.)

#2
The Department did not know any of our clients or who they even were, but asked us to bring one of them — our choice — to the meeting. We invited the client referenced above.

#3
You were not involved in the purchasing or selection of our servers — they are separate agreements with separate companies for completely separate servers .. and we have 2 additional backup servers you do not know about as well in 2 additional cities. We have actually secured another server in another city recently … to replace one of those referenced above (which wouldn’t be possible if it was a service the company provided).

You were here for a few short months and we have been in business for 15 years; there is alot you apparently do not know.

Thank you, however, for noting that we did a good job for our clients … that is always our #1 goal and we are happy that they appreciate what we do and spread the word to others. 😉

Judy

on Point #1
OK, so it was notoriety and awards from other organizations that followed because you were in the limelight. I stand corrected and have made adjustments to my post. Thank you for the correction.

on point #2

The Department did not know any of our clients or who they even were, but asked us to bring one of them — our choice — to the meeting. We invited the client referenced above.

I stand corrected.

on point #3

You were not involved in the purchasing or selection of our servers — they are separate agreements with separate companies for completely separate servers

Actually I’m sorry your memory does not serve you correctly on this fact. I, in fact, had several phone conversations with Jim Sander and Cliff Addy, your lead programmers, in regards to the hosting services offered at Hostway, Media Temple, Host Gator, 1and1, and several other large dedicated host server providers. The conversations we had were in regards to find out if or not the dedicated plans offered would be a fit for Compucast and if or not they offered the ability for redundant back up as you did NOT have a solution for it at that time.

Lets talk about at that time, at that time and previous to that you ONLY had ONE dedicated server which ran the reservations engine which. This was the server that experienceneworleans.com was under at the time. There was also web.compucast.com which was hosting new sites only that were not reservations engine related. Point in case, there was NO redundancy of the Reservations engine server on the web.compucast.com box it was simply a clean new dedicated box with only new directories of sites that had nothing to do with the reservations engine.

These were the only two servers on which your data was stored the 10 months in which I was employed at Compucast and it was inferred to me through several conversations with your programmers that this was the sole reservations engine box that had been running since the get go. Now at times there had been static backups of the data made on your programmers personal boxes at home in Jacksonville fl. But there was no live redundant backup of the being made on a consistent basis on separate coasts, the claim which got you the notoriety.

and we have 2 additional backup servers you do not know about as well in 2 additional cities.

If there were other servers that you were “hiding” from me when I was a key employee at your company, then good for you, I stand corrected. But, if that were that case, I find it rather hard to believe because while I was there we almost lost the entire reservations engine one night when it went down on the experiencenewortleans.com box. No sites were processing reservations, and there was no box upon which we could “switch” to which had a redundant, load balanced backup. It was eventually able to be recovered but, if you had this sort of redundancy that you were “hiding” from me as a key employee why would you of not switched to it.This final loss of service is what prompted you to start looking into load balance and redundant backups. This was not until November 2007 well after you had received notoriety for such a claim which was unsubstantiated.

We have actually secured another server in another city recently

If you NOW have this sort of solution, wonderful, your clients deserve it and you business/this industry requires it. I just want to set the record straight and let it be known that this WAS indeed NOT the case for Katrina and that you have preyed on your clients and other misunderstandings of the situation to your advantage.

BTW, Thank you for the response! Blogs are a very search engine friendly method to encourage the conversation and I appreciate your willingness to continue this one! I would of emailed you but it seems compucast.com has had the nolagraphics.com domain blocked for sometime so no email goes through. Thank you again on the baby comment..
YES WE ARE EXCITED!!! Baby is due sometime June 9th – 16th. check back for pictures!

Marc Juneau

oh one detail that i forgot ..

Thank you, however, for noting that we did a good job for our clients … that is always our #1 goal and we are happy that they appreciate what we do and spread the word to others.

Wherein did I note that you did a good job for your clients? Is this some sort of twisted reverse psychology? Please quote me if I did.

You are incorrect.

You are incorrect.

Um ok .. not sure where you are going with that response as it is rather limited in its description …