Attacks boost world market in disaster recovery

CIOL Bureau
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Anshuman Daga and Caroline Humer


BANGALORE/NEW YORK: Just as rapid growth inspires action and creates

opportunity for the hyperactive high-technology sector, so too can fears of a

devastating fall from grace.

As companies worldwide lick their wounds from the Sept. 11 attacks, they will

also be spending more to make their computers and valuable information more


Disaster recovery and storage solutions, like insurance, are fast becoming

the season's hot flavors, and with them, the idea of locating inter-connected

data centers over several locations across the globe -- like spreading eggs in

baskets. Axe-wielding financial executives show a gentler side when it comes to

protecting their digital memories and setting up back-ups.


"I think they're taking their disaster recovery more seriously than they

were before," said Michael Dell, chief executive of No. 1 personal computer

maker Dell Computer Corp., when asked about the technology outlook for


"They're looking also at geographic diversity in disaster

recovery," Dell told a New York technology conference two weeks ago. And

for technology companies offering such services, this has come as a quick

opportunity to capitalize on a new growth area, particularly during a year when

the economy is slowing.

"Many companies are coming back to us and saying that it's now time to

put a disaster site in place, to fully set it up," said Steve McGowan,

senior vice-president of finance, global sales operations, at Sun Microsystems



"That budget is not frozen."

Some experts suggest global giants could spread their data centers over several
locations in a country or even across continents.

The Sept. 11 attacks have become a catalyst for customers to take a second

look at whatever back-up policy or disaster recovery plans they have, said Kim

Low, territory manager, South East Asia and India at Quantum/ATL, a unit of data

protection company Quantum Corp.


She compared the situation with preparations ahead of Year 2000, when fears

of software glitches known as "Y2K bugs" propelled companies to spend

billions of dollars to prevent computer systems from developing errors as their

clocks turned over at the start of the year 2000.

A flaw in double-digit year symbols could have set the year at "00"

for uncorrected computers. "Like the Y2K times, this is a wake-up call for

a lot of organizations," Low said.


Indian firms spot opportunity

Companies like computer giant International Business Machines are offering
business continuity services to their customers. IBM can keep a company running

in the case of disaster or system failure by supplying office space, hardware

and restoring networks.

India's $6.0 billion-plus software services sector has emerged as a global

leader in recent years through its army of cost-efficient, English-speaking

engineers. In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, India is moving fast to tap the

emerging business potential.

India, which in recent years have benefited from a growing shift of software

development work by multinational technology, financial services and insurance

companies, stands poised to cash in on this latest trend, analysts say. Better

telecommunications systems and the country's growing prominence as an

English-language customer service center, aid its case.


Many Indian software firms are targeting contingency planning, disaster

recovery and security application services to grab orders at a time when sales

are slowing down in sectors like telecommunications -- until last year their

mainstay. Fixing bugs by using telecom pipes is a key option.

"We are currently helping a lot of companies put up contingency plans

like storage solutions, alternative data centers and remote operations,"

said G. K. Prasanna, head of technology infrastructure services at Wipro Ltd.,

which is also listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Wipro, India's No. 3 software exporter, has a fast-growing team of 400 people

who work in the technology infrastructure unit out of its total staff of about


The division provides consultancy services including storing, retrieving and

managing data for clients, many of whom are based thousands of miles away from

India. "What is currently different is that there is a heightened sense of

urgency from our customers and newer companies for such services," Prasanna


(C) Reuters Limited.