Packet Rat: In the eye of the storm, anything but calm

The Rat

Michael J. Bechetti

The Rat came home waterlogged after an emergency trip to the Gulf Coast two weeks ago. While others were hightailing it away from the path of Hurricane Katrina, the whiskered one was moving his tail to make sure some of his network assets stayed running.

In retrospect, it seems a comparatively trivial mission, considering the true devastation wreaked by the hurricane, but it was a job he took seriously at the time. 'I'd rather have to do business continuity than disaster recovery,' he explained to his spouse as he headed for the door to fly south.

But it wasn't long after he got to the coast that the cyberrodent was running with his assets out the door. With a bag of backup tapes slung over his shoulder, and with standby systems back at the Rat's HQ bunker brought online, it was time to bug out with the rest of the mandatory evacuees.

He didn't get far before hitting gridlock. Wondering if the hurricane could possibly be worse than being trapped in a government van with no air conditioning, a pile of network equipment and 12 sweaty data center refugees, the whiskered one pulled off the interstate in search of shelter.

As it turned out, the hurricane could be worse'and longer than the van ride. As the storm came ashore, the Rat watched a network console via a virtual private network session to headquarters as more and more icons went red. Then the power went out in the motel lobby that the Rat and his fellow travelers had commandeered.

Before long, the Rat and company were lugging luggage (and routers) up the stairs to keep their meager inventory from becoming underwater trip hazards.

The next day, with the previously cursed van now submerged in six feet of flotsam, the wirebiter got on a working cell with his wireless phone and checked in with home and HQ.

'We're OK here,' he told his wife. 'I'm just not sure how long I'll have to wait to get out.'

Then he called his boss. 'We're definitely not OK here. I've got the tapes we managed to run before the evac, but I'm going to have a hell of a time restoring them to anything from here. And given that the van looks like an artificial reef, I don't know how we're getting back to check the regional center and bring it back online.'

'I wouldn't be in too much of a rush,' his boss told him. 'As far as I can tell from the information I have, there's nothing to go back and check on. Besides, I've already cut the paperwork for your temporary assignment to FEMA.'

The Rat paused. 'So, how do I get to a FEMA command post?'

His boss sighed. 'You have a working cell phone. You're it.'

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@postnewsweektech.com.

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