Katrina whipped Louisiana's top court into shape for Gustav

A revamped network infrastructure keeps judges linked to the state data center

Peter Haas, the director of technology for the Supreme Court of Louisiana.

Peter Haas, the director of technology for the Supreme Court of Louisiana.

Gustav had nowhere near the effect on the Louisiana Supreme Court that Katrina did three years ago -- in fact, the network never went down.

The courts' main data center in the French Quarter of New Orleans remained up and running and connected to the MPLS WAN, says Peter Haas, pictured, the director of technology for the Supreme Court of Louisiana.

Gustav did drive court workers from the city, but running on generator power, the network itself remained up and running throughout the storm, Haas says.

He says the state's chief justice accessed servers in New Orleans throughout the storm to reach files needed to write and issue emergency orders waiving enforcement of certain state laws, such as the right to be arraigned within 72 hours of arrest. The primary public court Web site and intranet servers remained up and running throughout.

Haas knows this because he has been monitoring the network from his nearby home, just north of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. He has a generator at his house and a Verizon wireless card in his laptop, which also has extended-life batteries -- all preparedness lessons he learned during Katrina.

During that storm three years ago, there was no disaster recovery site and Haas had to don a flak jacket and get a police escort to rescue servers from the courthouse so he could install them in a court building in Baton Rouge.

This time, with the backup generator kicking in when Gustav knocked out power to the court building, all the primary servers were running, but he shifted the communications servers over to the recovery data center in northern Louisiana, Haas says.

His worry was that Verizon, the court WAN provider, might restrict bandwidth in its own network, and he wanted less traffic going in and out of New Orleans, so he switched on the BlackBerry, e-mail and Web servers at the disaster-recovery location.

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