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Keynote Address by Mr Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, at the BCM & Cloud Conference: Innovative Practices in BCM and Cloud

Keynote Address by Mr Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, at the BCM & Cloud Conference: Innovative Practices in BCM and Cloud on 31 October 2012, 9.10am at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel

Keynote Address by Mr Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, at the BCM & Cloud Conference: Innovative Practices in BCM and Cloud on 31 October 2012, 9.10am at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel

Mr Chak Kong Soon, President of the Singapore Computer Society

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

1. As companies, businesses and an economy increasingly depend on their infocomm systems to operate smoothly and reliably, infocomm systems serve critical roles in most organisations. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that these systems continue to function, or recover rapidly, especially at times of disaster.

2. A disaster can be classified in two broad categories - natural or human-induced. Avoiding or alleviating losses from these disruptive events can be achieved with proper planning, surveillance and appropriate mitigation measures, including training of manpower. Hence, it is crucial for companies and businesses to have plans, policies, measures and practices for disaster recovery and business continuity.

3. In the last few years, several disaster recovery and business continuity initiatives were implemented in Singapore. Let me outline a few examples.

Singapore's Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Standards

4. As early as 2004, IDA worked closely with the infocomm industry and Singapore's IT Standards Committee on several initiatives to develop business continuity and disaster recovery practices in both the infocomm industry and end-user organisations. This included establishing industry standards such as the SS507 which is the world's first standard for disaster recovery and business continuity service providers. The standard specifies stringent requirements that such service providers must possess to provide business continuity, a "trusted" operating environment and to help companies secure and recover data in the event of crisis.

5. The SS507 standard subsequently became one of the base documents for the ISO/IEC 24762 Guidelines for ICT Disaster Recovery Services that was published in January 2008.

6. Let me provide some examples of companies that have adopted the SS507 BC/DR standard.

NCS' Expanded Data Centre

7. In 2010, NCS launched an expanded, SS507-certified, IS0 20000 and ISO 27001-compliant, integrated Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Centre with increased data centre and disaster recovery space. With this expansion, the centre is one of the largest disaster recovery and business continuity sites in Singapore.

8. Run by a team that includes certified Business Continuity Planning and Data Centre professionals, the data centre is monitored 24/7 and has a redundant power supply to ensure constant backup in the event of a power failure. It provides space for data and software as well as recovery work seats for clients' key personnel to continue their business activities in times of crisis.

9. Other SS507-certified business continuity and disaster recovery service providers include Equinix Singapore and SingTel.

NUS Disaster Recovery Centre - BCDR Readiness

10. In addition, the National University of Singapore Disaster Recovery Centre was launched in 2007 to provide NUS with a solid business continuity and disaster recovery capability. The centre ensures availability almost 24/7 for the various faculties and schools, research centres, institutes, facility members, staff and students of NUS.

Certification Programme for IT Business Continuity Managers

11. Separately, the Certification in IT Business Continuity Management was launched in 2010 by the Singapore Computer Society and supported by IDA, to ensure that professionals are equipped to handle the various aspects of IT business continuity management including disaster recovery planning. The programme focuses on three important components: Business Continuity Management, IT Disaster Recovery and Data Centre Management.

Tapping on Cloud Computing for Disaster Recovery

12. Today, disaster recovery takes on an added dimension with increased adoption of cloud computing. According to the Singapore Cloud Adoption Study commissioned by IDA in April 2012, Singapore continues to maintain its leading market position in ASEAN in terms of cloud adoption and maturity. In terms of cloud adoption in the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore is ranked third, after Australia and Japan.

13. The study also revealed that Singapore is an emerging regional data centre hub for both public and private cloud solutions, with cloud infrastructure readiness complemented by initiatives such as the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (Next Gen NBN).

14. While some companies may view cloud computing as an added challenge in their business continuity planning, cloud computing technologies also provide an alternative to organisations looking to adopt or streamline their disaster recovery practices. Until recently, effective disaster recovery practices could mean a full blown duplicate IT infrastructure spread out to two or more different sites, with all the associated systems and storage management. As a result, the need for financial investment, substantial effort and complexity of traditional approaches has discouraged many enterprises from investing in disaster recovery planning and processes even though they are crucial for business continuity.

15. However, the advent of virtualisation and cloud-related technologies has changed that scenario. It is now possible to put in place effective disaster recovery practices through cloud adoption. The solution can be as simple as duplicating enterprise data to the cloud as off-site backup storage. It can also involve creating a conduit between a customer's site and a remote virtualised compute and storage infrastructure in the cloud.

16. To this end, Singapore is well-positioned to support such activities given our vibrant cloud computing ecosystem facilitated by the development of major infocomm infrastructures such as the Next Gen NBN, Singapore Internet Exchange and Data Centre Park.

Benefits of Cloud Disaster Recovery

17. So what are some of the benefits in tapping on cloud computing for disaster recovery? One of the primary benefits of cloud based disaster recovery is savings in costs. This form of recovery can reduce the capital expenditures required as it eliminates the need to invest in a remote disaster recovery facility. Operational costs are charged on a pay-per-use basis. That is, the customer need to pay only for the resources utilised. Such savings mean that smaller enterprises can implement disaster recovery plans that would have been extremely costly previously.

18. Other benefits of cloud based disaster recovery include:

  • Rapid provisioning and elasticity leading to business agility. With minimal time required to secure cloud resources, and the ability to scale up or down on requirements accordingly, businesses are able to move at a faster pace and better respond to their customers' evolving needs.

  • Faster recovery time compared to the conventional disaster recovery (in the order of minutes/hours compared to days/weeks). As virtualised servers on the cloud are hardware independent, the entire virtualised image including operating system's components can be safely and accurately transferred to the site to be recovered. This saves complicated setup and time spent to individually load patches and configurations in the conventional approach.

  • Multi-site availability at much lower costs compared to conventional disaster recovery thus ensuring a greater degree of business continuity. Established cloud service providers typically operate multiple data centres on which a disaster recovery solution can span for better redundancy and assurance. As cloud service providers operate in a much leaner fashion by aggregating demand, users pay a significantly lower premium for multi-site availability compared to building their own infrastructure, while enjoying the same benefits.

19. Today, cloud services can simplify disaster recovery processes by utilising cloud based software to automate entire recovery and migration procedures. Upon initiation of a disaster failover, organisations and businesses can continue with their services without manual intervention. Furthermore, it also facilitates non-disruptive testing, whereby recovery plans can be tested without disrupting production systems. As a result, organisations gain confidence in that their disaster protection will meet business objectives.

20. That said, businesses and enterprises will still need to factor in several considerations when adopting cloud based disaster recovery. For instance, they will need to have the necessary bandwidth and network capacity to redirect users to the cloud in the event of a disaster. This may be mitigated if businesses offer their services over the Next Gen NBN, which offers ultra high speed broadband of 1 Gbps and beyond, nationwide. Cloud service providers will also need to ensure that data can be securely transferred and users authenticated properly.

Proof-of-Concept in Cloud Enablement of CORENET e-Submission System for Disaster Recovery

21. Government agencies are also actively exploring the use of cloud for disaster recovery. An example is the proof-of-concept porting of CORENET e-Submission System disaster recovery site to a cloud environment currently being undertaken by the Building and Construction Authority or BCA. CORENET, also known as the Construction and Real Estate Network, is an internet-based system that provides for the electronic production, submission, checking and approval of building plans in Singapore. It is currently hosted at the Government Data Centre and is utilised by 15 government agencies, departments and statutory boards across 8 ministries.

22. Due to its highly irregular load and usage patterns, CORENET lends itself well to leverage on the scalable nature of cloud computing. This proof-of-concept project thus aims to explore the overall feasibility, technical challenges and cost-benefits in operating the disaster recovery site on the cloud. The experience gained and data gathered during this project will also prepare BCA for the possible future migration of CORENET's production system to the cloud environment.

Call for Cloud Computing Proposals

23. Here, I would also like to take this opportunity to announce the upcoming launch of IDA's sixth Call for Cloud Computing proposals where you can obtain cloud resources that may be used to pilot cloud based disaster recovery efforts with participating cloud service providers. The Call will launch on 5 November 2012 and close on 14 January 2013. More details can be found on the IDA website and I invite interested industry members to apply.


24. To conclude, business continuity and disaster recovery planning is essential for any modern organisations to operate and function smoothly. The advantages are unlimited ranging from better protection of data, hardware and software, preparedness of organisations and enterprises for potential disaster and to sustain productivity.

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