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Disaster recovery centres crucial to business continuity planning

Virtualised centres can keep IT costs down, even for large and critical systems

Business continuity is the biggest challenge for chief information officers, and having a disaster recovery centre should be an IT investment priority for organisations seeking such continuity, according to experts.

Supak Lailert, executive director and chief operating officer of Yip In Tsoi - a Thai systems integrator - said that these days, in the midst of uncertainty over both natural and man-made disasters, business continuity represented the greatest challenge for organisations, especially in respect of large and critical systems that create data-centre and disaster-recovery-centre demand.

There are three main areas of demand in the market: from the government sector; increased demand from existing customers; and new demand from the private sector.

The potential market includes the government sector, the financial-services industry, the oil and gas industry as well as the telecoms sector, he said.

"Most of our enterprise customers are planning to invest more in data centres and disaster recovery centres in order to help them to continue their business as usual, even in the event of a disaster, whether it is either natural or man-made," he added.

Yip In Tsoi expects to grow its overall business by between 10 and 15 per cent from last year's revenue of Bt3.7 billion. Data-centre and disaster-recovery-centre business is expected to contribute around Bt1.2 billion of the total.

SEC enforcement

Kumpol Sontanarat, director of the Information and Communication Technology Department at the Securities and Exchange Commission, said that by the end of this year the SEC would be announcing a new regulation requiring all listed companies in the Stock Exchange of Thailand to have a disaster recovery centre, so as to ensure business continuity.

"It will be a notification related to the security policy that requires all listed firms to have a disaster recovery centre. It is expected to be announced by the end of the year. Moreover, along with the listed firms, e-commerce and online businesses will be required to have a disaster recovery centre, as well. Enforcement would be regulated by the Electronic Transactions Act. This is expected to create huge demand [for disaster recovery centres] in Thailand," he said.

He added that there was currently no enforcement of the need for such data-sensitive businesses to have a disaster recovery centre, as companies are required only to have a business continuity plan in place if they offer critical systems and services, especially those providing public services.

There is, however, no enforcement of how an organisation will actually ensure continuity in the event of a disaster, even if it has such a plan in place, he explained.

"While banks must all have a disaster recovery centre, under Bank of Thailand regulations, this will be the first time that listed companies have to have had to do so, in accordance with the new enforcement by the SEC," said Kumpol.

Jantima Sirisaengtaksin, a lecturer at Thammasat University, said chief information officers had to realise that business continuity was the biggest challenge for businesses nowadays, especially as there seemed to be more disasters these days than before in the Kingdom.

Businesses can quickly start to invest in a disaster recovery centre, with the size of investment depending on their requirements, she said.

"In the last six months, disaster recovery centres have become the priority IT investment among organisations, especially in the government sector," she added.

Chawapol Jariyawiroj, VMware country manager for Thailand and Indochina, said disaster recovery centres had changed from something that was 'nice to have' to something that was a 'must have'.

Amid a period of flat growth in organisations' IT budgets, investment in a disaster recovery centre can be undertaken by prioritising a business's systems, according to shutdown impacts and critical systems, he said.

Virtualised recovery

With new technologies, virtualisation and cloud computing, vendors can approach an organisation about having a disaster recovery centre in an entirely new way, he said. An organisation does not have to invest in and own a physical centre, as the system can be virtualised and still meet a customer's needs.

"The beauty of a virtualised disaster recovery centre is that it is quick to implement, can be accessed from anywhere, and has a lower investment cost," said Chawapol.

He added that apart from virtualising the disaster recovery centre, organisations could also utilise the advantages of the cloud in order to integrate and get their businesses running continuously.

"Not only is a disaster recovery centre a must-have for business continuity, virtual desktop infrastructure is also required. Many businesses have been implementing VDI to replace their desktops and give employees the capability to be more productive," he said.

Dhanawat Suthumpun, managing director of Hewlett-Packard (Thailand), said organisations could start to invest in a disaster recovery centre from many models and options, such as investing on their own; co-hosting in a data centre; and "use as a service".

"Now, there are more choices for organisations in order to get their business running continuously. They do not have to invest a large sum, as they can start at any size and any cost," he said.

Investment demand in disaster recovery centres is driven by critical systems, in particular those in the financial-services industry, government, telecoms, healthcare and entertainment, he added.


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