Recognition of the negative impact of natural disasters on business continuity has deepened since the Great East Japan Earthquake and 2011 Thailand floods. Because large-scale natural disasters significantly affect not only local businesses but also the entire global supply chain, it is vitally important that corporations develop Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) in preparation for major natural disasters.
Global BCP trend
Businesses are always battling against various types of threats to business continuity. To prevent interruptions and accompanying losses in the event of natural disasters, pandemics, etc., a growing number of companies are developing BCPs that define routine business activities and the means of continuing them, or achieving swift recovery, when such disasters strike.*1 Now that business is so dependent on sophisticated information systems, no company can afford to be without a BCP and Disaster Recovery (DR) plan.
Drawing up a BCP helps a business to continue operating during a disaster or shorten recovery time following a disaster.
Since the September 11 attacks, worldwide recognition of the importance of BCPs has increased and corporations in Europe and America have addressed BCP issues with more care. Several multinational corporations have even established unified standards for their branches worldwide. In Japan, the Great East Japan Earthquake further heightened awareness of BCPs and impelled many companies to begin implementing concrete countermeasures.
Risk and the necessity of BCPs in Asia
In the booming Asian economies, there is a tendency to prioritize economic efficiency and growth at the expense of other considerations. As a result, Asia generally lags behind the West in implementing expensive disaster response measures in their infrastructures*2. This is true even though Asia is more vulnerable to natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and pandemics than the rest of the world and is therefore in more urgent need of BCP measures.
Both number of natural disaster occurrence and amount of damage occupies large portion of percentage, comparing with the rest of the world regions.
The 2011 floods in Thailand are a dramatic example of the risks posed by natural disasters in Asia. The floods severely impacted Japanese automobile, electronics, chemical and other corporations operating over 3,100 companies*3 in the country. Moreover, damage to the factories of foreign hard disk drive (HDD) makers in Thailand significantly affected PC manufacturers and caused a steep rise in global HDD prices. Similar flooding tends to occur in countries bordering Thailand (such as Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Bangladesh)*2, which generally share its climate and geographical conditions.
Asia has far more reported human cases of bird flu (H5N1) than the rest of the world.
Source: About bird flu (H5N1) by Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry (Japanese)
(Please refer to this site for the latest bird flu figures.)
When considering the risks of conducting business in Asia, one must always keep pandemics in mind. While pandemics don't affect facilities or computer systems, they prevent people from commuting to and running the facilities. If a pandemic strikes, such activities as commuting, business trips, meetings, travel between offices and visits to clients may become severely regulated. As a result, businesses are highly encouraged to take BCP countermeasures in Asia.
- *2 Source: Japan should make contributions through its world's best disaster prevention technology for Thai Flood by Tomoyuki Takahashi (Professor of Safety Science, Kansai University) (Japanese)
- *3 Source: Special Project: Fact-finding survey on companies making inroads into Thailand by Teikoku Data Bank (Japanese)
DC-oriented BCP solution and NTT Communications
Data centers (DC) can play a major role in BCP solutions. When optimized for BCP and disaster recovery (DR), they can be utilized to store critical data as well as provide inter-DC data protection services that withstand wide-area disasters. These services can also be combined to provide a multi-location disaster recovery (MDR) solution.
Companies can manage risk by storing IT resources in a secure DC (just as precious goods are stored in a safety deposit box) and making use of hosting services. By backing up critical business data in DCs, companies can continue operating with minimal inconvenience even if floods damage their premises. Such backup measures also allow continued operation in pandemic conditions by utilizing services from remote offices. Unified communication systems and mobile equipment that seamlessly integrate phone and videoconference systems can further contribute to BCP (as well as productivity).
In response to the increasing demand for BCP measures throughout Asia, NTT Com is continuously expanding its BCP-related services. For example, the Multi-location Disaster Recovery Solution (MDR) launched in January 2012 is now supported by a DC in Hong Kong as well as 12 other DCs worldwide (in Japan, the U.S., Europe and elsewhere). This enables NTT Com to provide BCP solutions on a truly global scale. In a sweeping effort to provide optimal, comprehensive services to corporations establishing businesses in Asia, NTT Com is taking advantage of its worldwide offices and support framework to strengthen every aspect of its DC and internet access business in Asia.
NTT Communications (Thailand) Co., Ltd
The 2011 Thailand floods were a huge disaster on a scale witnessed only once every 50 years. They caused over 700 deaths and brought ruin to numerous companies in the industrial complexes of Ayutthaya and Bangkok, which were deluged with water for over two months.
In October 2011, NTT Com Thailand established a disaster prevention office to support the emergency evacuation of customers' IT resources through such services as DC colocation, server relocation and the opening of emergency lines. This was largely in response to the rising number of clients requesting the relocation of servers and communication equipment to our DC facilities. These clients, in over 100 cases, had been utilizing DR rental offices neighboring our buildings following the floods. Since the successful discharge of all water from the industrial complexes in Ayutthaya and Bangkok, NTT Com Thailand has been recovering existing lines and providing flexible services that meet client needs.
The floods followed on the heels of the 2010 Thailand Red Shirt Protests, giving the industry reason to re-examine regional risk factors. Ever since, many customers have consulted us regarding the structure of networks and locations of servers. Moreover, many clients are requesting a more disaster-resistant ICT infrastructure based on a central DC hub, the use of cloud services, and the relocation of the servers.
- Increasing Demand for High Quality Networks in the Developing Greater Mekong Sub-region
- Explosive growth in data traffic and the future of global communications infrastructure
- Low-latency networks and high-performance data centers are bolstering Asian financial markets
- Rising Demand for Business Continuity Solutions in Asia
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