Internet outage a boon to tech firms

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Internet outage a boon to tech firms
BY LUCIA DORE (Assistant Editor, Business) KHALEEJ TIMES 11 February 2008

DUBAI — The recent internet outage across large parts of Middle East is proving a boon for technology companies providing business continuity planning and disaster recovery services.

“We have definitely seen an increase in interest in business continuity planning,” said Aruba Networks’ vice-president Middle East and Africa, Khalid Ishruq Laban, but added, “Disaster recovery has always been there, the new trend is secure mobility.”

Speaking to Khaleej Times, he said that following the Internet outage he has “definitely seen an increase in interest in his firm’s mobility solutions, which allow data to be accessed everywhere, at all times. Organisations in the region are seeking not only to upgrade their current solutions to cater for longer outages but are looking to find ways to increase their productivity as well, he said.

“Firms have increased their productivity with mobile phones and now they want to do with same with mobile data,” he said, adding that this strategy goes one step beyond business continuity planning for which most reputable companies already plan.

Without giving specific figures, he said the company aims to “at least double business every year” in the Middle East. Whereas three years ago a big deal was $10,000 to $20,000 it is now $1 million to $2 million, Laban said. “Mobility is a must have,” he added.

But if organisations adopt secure mobile solutions in an attempt to increase productivity it becomes even more important for them to have contingency planning in place to cover any lengthy internet outage. But, according to data from Gartner, a research consultancy firm, organisations have not been very good at planning for a business outage lasting longer than seven days. The recent regional wide Internet outage in the Middle East, as a result of damage to undersea cables, could take weeks to repair.

“The fact that most organisations plan for an outage that lasts up to seven days indicates a huge hole in those organisations’ ability to sustain business operations if a regional disaster strikes,” said research vice-president at Gartner, Roberta Witty. “The impact of a disaster that lasts more than one week can have enormous negative impact on revenue, reputation and brand. Regional incidents, service provider outages, terrorism, and pandemics can easily last longer than seven days. Therefore, organisations must be prepared. More mature business continuity management/disaster recovery programmes plan for outages of at least 30 days.”

Although the data is gathered from organisations in the US, Canada and the UK, the results are deemed indicative of trends in other regions as well. It shows that more organisations are planning for a pandemic for example.

When planning for specific types of disaster scenarios, 56 per cent of the companies surveyed also have plans for key service providers’ failure, IT outages, computer-virus attacks and terrorism. “With the growing use of third-party service providers to conduct mission-critical business functions, organisations that don’t plan for this type of business outage can find themselves in a tough position in the event that this scenario becomes a reality,” said Witty.

The importance of business continuity planning is vital. According to an IDC report commissioned by data storage company, Commvault, losing control of data has a two-fold impact on Middle East organisations: risk and cost. Organisations risk being unable to comply with international regulations and face the risk of failing audits, being fined, ruining their reputation and losing customers due to unresponsive service, the report says.

And CommVault’s marketing director, Fiona Moon, said: “Data growth in the Middle East is progressing faster than most emerging markets, and we believe that this trend will continue.

“IDC’s view that the region is on the verge of a data boom fully supports our existing position that regional organisations should be moving now to establish a clearly defined storage investment policy the places crucial importance on leading-edge back-up and recovery technologies.”

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