Wall Street IT to cost £2.25bn

Rebuilding the IT infrastructure of New York's Wall Street is expected to cost approximately £2.25bn, according to a report by...

Rebuilding the IT infrastructure of New York's Wall Street is expected to cost approximately £2.25bn, according to a report by TowerGroup, a financial services research company.

Full restoration of the securities trading firms that lost trading floors, offices, and systems in last week's bombing of the World Trade Centre is expected to take place over the next 12 to 24 months, TowerGroup officials.

"We believe that 30,000 securities positions [trading, sales, research, and operations] were destroyed in the seven World Trade Centre buildings," said Larry Tabb, vice-president of securities and investments research practice at TowerGroup.

Tabb also estimates that another 15,000 to 20,000 positions will need to be replaced in the buildings adjacent to the World Trade Centre towers: the World Financial Centre - where Lehman Brothers Holdings and Merrill Lynch have offices - and the Bankers Trust building.

Part of the £2bn plus price tag will be £1.2bn spent on hardware such as workstations for traders and salespeople, PCs, servers, minicomputers, storage devices, cabling, communication hubs, routers and switches, Tabb said.

TowerGroup's calculations are based upon the need to replace 16,000 trading desks with flat-screen monitors at £36,000 each, and 34,000 workstations at a replacement price of £3,500 per desktop system.

The specialised desktop trading technology often includes multiple monitors, extra memory, and systems that have to support a variety of market data feeds and activity analysis software as well as proprietary software.

Before the rebuilding can start, firms have to relocate their personnel and set up disaster recovery sites in order to sustain their businesses.

"The World Trade Centre is filled with offices. It's not an area where you'll find massive mainframe data centres, which are typically located in more suburban locations," said Jim Simmons, group chief executive officer of SunGard, one of the disaster recovery firms helping to get Wall Street firms back on their feet.

SunGard's clients "needed desks, chairs, phones, fax machines - everything you need to get a business back up and running on the people side - as well as some mid-sized or distributed computing systems," Simmons said. There were also recovery services for large server networks and communications networks, he said.

Simmons added that the "tremendous relocation of people" added an extra dimension to the situation.

"We're using six of our centres along the Eastern seaboard from Boston down to Orlando," Simmons said. "We've got a couple of hundred people working in Jersey City. We've had a couple of hundred working in our Philadelphia office as well as Boston, Washington, Atlanta and Orlando. And just the human emotion surrounding the events has made this different."

Restoring the phones
The restoration of a working telephone service is vital.

Telecommunications carriers such as WorldCom offered co-location and temporary office space to displaced corporations and workers, said spokeswoman Linda Laughlin.

"We were very lucky because we had just completed a large overbuild in the area, because our data services had grown so fast in the financial district," Laughlin said. "We had quite a bit of capacity that hadn't been sold, so our network engineers and planners could use that for companies and to meet the needs of city and state officials."

In all, WorldCom reported no disruptions to data networks, including ATM, Frame Relay and Internet-related services in the lower Manhattan area.

"We have looked at our office space, including warehouses and technical space, and offered offices to those affected," Laughlin said. "This has included cubicles, furniture and phone lines. Many offices were able to go to these locations and be ready as the financial markets opened."

Laughlin said that other financial customers moved to satellite offices in New York and New Jersey and the carrier worked to re-route circuits for that activity.

Local phone company Verizon Communications estimated last week that between 9,000 and 14,000 New York businesses were affected, though the figure includes many smaller entities such as grocery stores and news-stands.

Verizon first focused on the circuits and services feeding essential operations such as hospitals and healthcare centres, said Ivan Seidenberg, Verizon's co-chief executive officer and president.

Though smaller firms initially reported an inability to complete trades via telephone systems when the market opened, Verizon scrambled to address orders, Seidenberg said.

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