Speech by Mr Khoong Hock Yun, IDA Assistant Chief Executive, IDA Singapore, at the SCS Business Continuity Management Conference

25 October 2013 - Speech by Mr Khoong Hock Yun, IDA Assistant Chief Executive, IDA Singapore, at the SCS Business Continuity Management Conference, Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Friday, 25 October 2013, 9.10am

Speech by Mr Khoong Hock Yun, IDA Assistant Chief Executive, IDA Singapore, at the SCS Business Continuity Management Conference, Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Friday, 25 October 2013, 9.10am.

Mr Chak Kong Soon, President of the Singapore Computer Society
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Morning.

Cloud Computing for NWOW and BCM (Business Continuity Management)

1. Many of us recognise Cloud Computing as a game changer. The nimble and versatile nature of Cloud Computing makes it possible for companies that tap on it to have the flexibility to up-scale and/or down-scale their computing resources as necessary to suit their business needs by responding quickly to customer and market conditions. Cloud Computing is increasingly playing a role which impacts on many people in society:

  1. Cloud Computing also increasingly is a key infrastructural service backbone for the new world of mobility, where users rely on Cloud Computing to obtain fingertip-ready information and e-services. 
  2. Many companies and economies increasingly depend on their Cloud Computing service to operate smoothly and reliably. Quoting a study1 conducted in May and June 2013 commissioned by NTT Com Security, three quarters of Singapore enterprises already have, or plan to replace their data centres with cloud. The same study reports that 65% of Singapore companies have either already adopted cloud to handle most of their data and services, or plan to do so within a year, placing Singapore at the forefront of cloud adoption in Asia amongst other Asian countries surveyed. 
  3. Enterprises and government bodies use cloud computing to work on Big Data challenges. 
  4. Cloud computing can help to mitigate or even improve a company’s infrastructure resilience as a media for business continuity – in the event of some disaster that impacts their office.
  5. Tapping into cloud computing also provides companies the opportunity to leverage on New Ways of Work. This is a radical new business opportunity that will help save costs for companies or assist those companies looking to expand.
2. Much of this has been facilitated by IDA’s focus on growing the infrastructure capability of Singapore, such as the Next Generation National Broadband Network (NBN). About 95% of Singapore is now connected to the NBN, with all future homes to be fibre-ready.

3. Let me share some examples of how cloud computing can change the dynamic of work.

New Ways of Work As A Way Forward , Big Data, Business Continuity – The Good

4. Firstly, high speed broadband and cloud computing opens up New Ways of Work. Singapore’s companies are facing infrastructural issues such as office space growth.

5. Telecommuting from home or working from outdoors – such as IDA’s Smart Work Centres - is one possible solution to resolve infrastructural worries while also effectively tapping on new sources of workers.

6. Cloud-based telecommunicating allows workers who were previously prevented from returning to the workforce due to a need to remain at home – perhaps to look after an elderly family member or a young child – to contribute effectively to the economy.

7. One example is Rasa Sayang Healthcare, a home-grown SME. The company provides nursing services, and by utilizing the cloud and telecommuting has increased the effective time nurses spend with needy patients rather than in transit or filing paperwork at the office.

8. Secondly, Big Data – with its ability to uncover hidden patterns or correlations – also relies on cloud computing’s aid. Proper leveraging of Big Data can lead to competitive advantages and result in business benefits, such as more effective marketing and increased revenue.

9. An example is the local arm of retailer Best Denki. Utilizing Big Data analytics they are more accurately and quickly able to forecast demand for and optimize inventory rather than relying on a floor managers’ gut feeling.

10. Business continuity planning is also critical to companies, and cloud computing makes this affordable. Cloud’s pay-per-use, capacity-on-demand model keeps companies lean without compromising on quality. The National Environment Agency, for instance, utilized a cloud-based Content Delivery Network to handle sudden spikes in traffic to their website – such as the recent haze epidemic.

11. Previously, companies might have built an entire duplicate IT backup system that was cost, space and time-expensive. This substantial and complex problem is now gone by virtualizing data onto the cloud.

12. The hardware-independent data can then be safely and accurately transferred or backed up to prepare for worrisome eventualities such as data crashes; or replicated when businesses expand. Crucially, this puts disaster recovery and business continuity plans in reach of smaller companies who we expect will see the most gains from moving onto the cloud.

Planning For The Bad And Ugly - Driving Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Through Cloud Solutions

13. Systems let us down, but what recovers is really the people. Systems will fail, no matter how much resilience you put in. It is the people who make the difference. Certification is thus a good thing to ensure for your employees.

14. But, around the world, there have been some bumps in the use of Cloud Computing. In the first half of 2013 there have been about 9 major cloud-reliant, brand name websites going down worldwide – exposing the issues still inherent in this technology.

15. These are names recognizable to anyone and the costs of their down time is difficult to fully measure. Estimates suggest a 50 minute downtime during one of the incidents cost that website some US$5 million in lost sales. This does not factor in other revenue losses arising from loss of goodwill and potential future loss of revenue deriving from the downtime.

16. We do not want to reactively wait for such events to occur here before acting. As such, Singapore has already begun to work towards providing its own set of guidelines to encourage companies to continue to invest in Singapore as the prime locale to do business in the Asia-Pacific region.

Government Working With Industry To Facilitate Cloud Computing

17. Singapore has already begun implementing standards, guidelines and legislations to provide clarity for companies and consumers – such as the SS507 standard which was the world’s first standard for disaster recovery and business continuity service providers as well as the Personal Data Protection Act.

18. In addition, to facilitate further adoption of cloud computing, the Government has proactively utilized the cloud for such initiatives as Data.gov.sg and CORENET to allow companies to tap on our data and generate innovative new products for consumers, such as Quantum Inventions, which helps logistics and transportation providers better optimize their fleet routing and navigation in real time by crunching traffic data and tolls.

19. Understandably, there are still issues surrounding cloud services that will cause companies to hesitate, and solutions for them are still pending or nowhere in sight. The aforementioned NTT Com Security study noted that 88% of Singapore companies cited compliance issues as one of the factors slowing down cloud adoption. Of pressing need to address is the issue of data sovereignty in a post PRISM-era. Data access and cross-border data flow can lead to questions on jurisdiction.

20. As such we’d like to share the thoughts of the Cloud Outage Incident Response Working Group, or COIR WG so far.

Formation of Cloud Outage Incidence Reporting (COIR) Working Group

21. The COIR WG was formed to examine how companies can rest assured that their businesses remain unaffected should a CSP face outages and/or data loss – such as when Yahoo’s subsidiary Osaka-based FirstServer did in June 2012.

22. The WG is made up of representatives from the Singapore infocomm community’s private and public sectors, such as the SCS, ITMA, SITF, CSA, DSTA and IDA

23. The focus of COIR is on incident response procedures and business continuity plans that should be implemented so cloud users know how to react. We expect many cloud users to be SMEs, and such a disruption would undermine confidence in cloud adoption if the negative impacts are not dealt with properly.

24. The WG has already met twice, and some possibilities that have been raised as suggestions include delivering a set of guidelines (or possibly, enforceable standards) on incident response and business continuity for cloud users, particularly SMEs, should a disruption to their business arise – such as from a cloud outage, CSP going out of business, data loss or leakage.

25. Take airplanes. Users know what to expect should they purchase a budget airline ticket compared to a top-tier airline. The same principles should apply to CSPs, and we encourage both CSPs and companies looking to get on board to offer their feedback when more details are ready to be shared.


26. To conclude, cloud computing is an affordable, robust and flexible system that can help companies prepare for both the best and the worst as they grow: You will be prepared not just for Business continuity and disaster recovery, but will also enjoy cost management and productivity gains.

27. As some of my examples I shared have illustrated, at the end of the day there is a human being behind the machine so certification of manpower is very important for customers to continue to have confidence in the product.

28. On this note, I wish you an enjoyable and fruitful time at the seminar. Thank you.


1 This study covered 700 IT leaders at organisations with at least 500 employees in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Scandinavia, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong. There were 100 respondents for Singapore.

Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023