DebateTech: DirectAsia.com gearing for growth

Launched in June 2010, DirectAsia.com is on an upward trajectory. Singapore’s first online retailer insurer is hatching plans for its datacenter of the future.
Written by Angus Macaskill, Contributor

Growing from its base in Singapore, DirectAsia.com, a dynamic online insurer boasts a clutch of consumer awards and now serves markets in Hong Kong and Thailand as well as its home market in the Lion City. 

CIO Jean-Marc Henaff is responsible for the datacenter that underpins the insurer’s award-winning services, and is charged with delivering in a challenging business environment. 

Firstly, the regulatory environment, governed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), requires the company’s IT to comply with a prescriptive technical risk management framework including requirements for datacenter, physical security, resiliency, and availability.  The framework also has stringent requirements for cloud – especially public cloud.

As the pioneer in Singapore of direct online insurance, Henaff says “there was intense scrutiny at the beginning with regards to how we would treat personal data protection."

Hear DHL's IT leaders' perspectives on datacenter and converged/unified infrastructure

To address resiliency and business continuity challenges, DirectAsia.com operates two datacentres - in Singapore and Hong Kong - that replicate all data and services synchronously. The business has a recovery time objective (RTO) in the event of systems failure of less than 4 hours – which meets the standard outlined by the MAS. 

Key components in DirectAsia.com’s datacenter include dual power redundancy, dual cooling system, and a fire suppressant system in the building infrastructure. At present the infrastructure is based on traditional virtualised servers.  Henaff says while DirectAsia.com isn’t large enough to warrant converged/unified infrastructure at the moment it will certainly look at that as an option in the future.  He likes that it “allows seamless growth and scalability, harmonised infrastructure," and adds it is “appealing for us in the future to have all our voice, networks, storage riding on that single managed type of infrastructure."

Thinking about how the datacenter may look in 2020, Henaff expects a totally virtualised environment, with a farm of blade servers, and single management in a unified infrastructure that aggregates voice, storage and data networks.

Click the image above to see a summary of the video interview with Jean-Marc Henaff.

To view the extended interview click here.

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