A walk through SunGard's self-contained mobile office

At a glance, the interior of SunGard Availability Services' Mobile MetroCenter looks like any other office -- desks line the walls and center of the room, a TV tuned to CNN sits above a printer in the corner. There's even a microwave and a small refrigerator.

The first clue that it's not just another office is the floor. Along the sides of the structure, which slide out to provide extra space, it's possible to feel a little give as you walk toward the desk. Then there's the desk itself -- the monitor is mounted on a swing-arm bolted to the wall.

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Which makes sense, given that the MMC is actually an office space mounted in the back of a semi trailer. For companies who've been flooded out, lost power or have some other factor keeping their workers from doing their jobs, SunGard's mobile recovery service provides the option of a completely autonomous workspace to keep operations moving.

Different clients have used the MMC for a lot of different purposes, according to Michael de la Torre, Sungard vice president of product management.

"We've had a financial services company actually put their trading floor in here ... We've had order processing and call centers. For one municipality, we actually had EMS and 911 dispatch," he says.

The MMC provides dual-core HP workstations and phones for up to 50 workers, and clients can supplement this by installing their own equipment on-site.

SunGard workspace continuity strategist Ron LaPedis says that the company used to offer bespoke customizations, but found it to be too time-consuming.

"It's all about what they call RTO, or recovery time objective," he says.

SunGard has three different tractor-trailer-borne options for emergency office space. They range in size and capacity from the Mobile Data Center -- a 22-seat workspace or server platform contained in an ordinary semi trailer -- through the MMC that I toured Thursday, and up to the MMC2, which consists of several trailers arranged next to each other with removable walls, allowing for the creation of more than 3,000 square feet of self-contained space.

The company says it can have a facility on site anywhere in the continental U.S. or Canada within 24 hours of notification, and de la Torre noted that SunGard stages vehicles near clients when heavy weather is expected.

LaPedis says that packing and unpacking the MMC is a relatively straightforward affair.

"The only things [that aren't actually built in] are the mice and the keyboards," he says. "But the PCs are already set up, the monitors are already set up, everything is pre-wired, the network is completely set up back to a patch panel."

LaPedis says that the MMC's VSAT connection handles 350 VoIP connections and provides full duplex 10Mbits upload and download speeds.

Everything is powered by a diesel generator mounted on the front of the trailer. It's heavily bolted to the framework during transit, but for active use, it sits on a set of air bladders that help mitigate noise and vibration in the office proper. SunGard says it needs a refill of diesel fuel once every 24 hours.

The company didn't provide specific figures, but clients can expect to pay $25 per seat per day and up for a minimum of 20 seats, over and above the subscription costs that keep SunGard on call in the first place.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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Tags managementwirelessNetworkingData Centerhardware systemsanti-malwarecnnsungardConfiguration / maintenanceSunGard Availability Services

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