S'pore CIOs find comfort at home

Companies in the island-state are holding off offshoring their data centers due to considerations such as security, bandwidth and power, says EMC executive.

SINGAPORE--Security at an offshore location is still the top concern among Singapore IT chiefs, as any lapse could put the data center at risk, according to a senior executive at EMC.

Speaking to ZDNet Asia on the sidelines of a media briefing Thursday, Richard Price, country manager of EMC Computer Systems for South Asia, said that although there are companies that have moved their data centers out of Singapore, most CIOs he spoke to still prefer to house their data centers in the island-state. "Some [data centers have been] offshored, but most of them are still here," he said.

He cited security as the main reason, explaining that Singapore companies see their home base as a more secure location for data centers compared to elsewhere in Asia. "If you have your data center in a country which could be volatile, you put your whole data center and your whole business at risk. So, while Singapore is more expensive, the extra cost is considered worthwhile by most of the CIOs," he said.

Price noted that while emerging countries such as Vietnam are increasing efforts to establish themselves as a suitable location for data centers, factors such as security, bandwidth and power are still big concerns.

"Ho Chi Minh City is actually a logical center point between Hong Kong and Singapore, [and] Vietnam is pushing very hard to try and establish data center type facilities there, but one of the main problems is bandwidth," he said. "The infrastructure [and] the telephone systems in these countries are just not up to the level that is required to run a reliable data center."

India, for instance, would be a "perfect place" to house data centers as it is a large country, said Abhrajit Bhattacharjee, communications manager for EMC for Asia-Pacific and Japan. However, businesses are discouraged from locating their data center in India due to the "power outages [that occur] all the time", and data centers require a reliable source of electricity, he added.

"It's a balance between economics and risk, [and] it's as simple as that," said Price. "There are some companies that move out [of Singapore], but on the whole…the majority is still holding off."

Degree of importance
Companies could also classify their information according to the degree of importance and store them appropriately in data centers in varied locations. Bhattacharjee said: "As organizations start classifying their information, there's going to be information that would be perfect for data centers in a low-cost location, and there would be information that they [can't be trusted to].

"If you classify your information, the economics will make sense at some level," Bhattacharjee said. "Some things stay right [in the data centers] at headquarters…[while] some things can be [stored in data centers located] very far away."

He explained that there are network links that allow one to retrieve the data, and even though the access to these information may be slower, the balance between economics and risk is managed.

According to Price, network type information, such as Microsoft Word files, Excel files, and e-mail messages, are highly important when they are in production. However, when these data "reach a month old or two months old, they become less [important]", and at that stage, they could be moved to a different location.

Price added that the production aspect of a company, considered as premium information, should stay in the most secure place.