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Volume 31, Issue 4

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Tuesday, 30 October 2007 08:26

The Computer Recovery Facility

Written by  Doug Allan
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A profile of one company’s debut and involvement in the disaster recovery industry in Malaysia

Mr. Michael Tong, a naturalized Canadian born in Klang, Malaysia, realized the opportunity and need for Recovery Planning Services in Malaysia. The 42 year old business technology entrepreneur, while residing in Canada, saw this void and need in his native country. In 1986, Mr. Tong incorporated a company called STT Canada and with papers he had written and the assistance of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), a division the Canadian Foreign affairs department, returned to Malaysia to generate interest within the country in the formation of a full service disaster recovery capability. His efforts resulted in the incorporation of ST & Telecommunications Industries Sdn Bhd, a Malaysian company, majority owned by Malaysia investors, the largest being Lembage Urusan & Tabung Haji (LUTH) at 51%, and the creation of one of the finest and most comprehensive recovery service entities established anywhere in the world. Thus the Computer Recovery Facility (CRF) was born and became operational in January 1991.

Attending the official opening of the Computer Recovery Facility were representatives of the Malaysian Government, the Canadian Government, the investors, invited officials from Brunei Darulsallam, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia, as well as 300 guests from the business community in and around Kuala Lumpur.

The CRF is the country’s most comprehensive supplier of Disaster Recovery Services. It is a full service disaster recovery facility, offering offsite storage services (OSS), computer recovery services (CRS) and disaster recovery services consulting, to meet the recovery needs of the information technology industry in Malaysia.

The 60,000 square foot facility is a stand-alone building with a single occupant and purpose--dedication to disaster recovery. It is situated close to Subang International Airport, 20 km from Kuala Lumpur city center and 15 km from any major industrial area.

The building includes fire protection and suppression systems, dust filters and vacuum systems, a “clean” room for media storage, closed circuit television surveillance cameras, alarm systems and an online key card access system. The building also sits on a track of land surrounded by walls and fencing and is patrolled by the facility’s own security guards.

Offsite Storage of Magnetic Media

The Computer Recovery Facility is unique in the recovery center industry in that it provides for storage of magnetic media on a commercial basis. The facility has five storage vaults (clean rooms) which provide for secure and environmentally safe storage. Each vault is physically separate and individually secured with a different level of security, one from another. Each of these vaults are independently monitored for temperatures and humidity fluctuations and have their own independent and redundant air-conditioning system. The present capacity of the vaults will house 500,000 reels of tapes or cartridges.

The CRF has its own fleet of vans for 24 hour pickup and delivery service. The vans are equipped with racking for tapes and cartridge cases, are air-conditioned and are staffed with two subscriber services representatives. The loading dock and receiving areas are equipped with air curtains and air showers to control temperatures and to maintain a dust free, clean environment. The controls for tape management within the facility are provided for by a customized application using a bar coding system. The application is PC-based and operates on a Local Area Network. It utilizes disk mirroring and is backed up on a second server. The vaults and the application are also protected from power failures or fluctuation by a UPS system and a diesel generator set.

Computer Recovery Services (CRS)

The CRS Division currently houses an IBM 4381 92E mainframe hot-site with associated peripherals. The hot-site is 4,000 square feet, out of a total raised floor area of 20,000 square feet. The hot-site and cold-site are individually controlled computer rooms with redundant air-conditioning, protected by a UPS system and diesel generators. Each area has its own level of security.

The subscribers are supported by a staff of technicians on site for assistance in software, hardware, telecommunications and environmental problems.

The CRS also has a customer recovery control room equipped with terminals, PCs, telephone system, fax and copying conveniences. There is also a kitchen, eating, and lounge area all conveniently located to the hot-site.

The recovery facility also includes the availability of cold-site (shell) recovery services. There is approximately 8,000 square feet of conditioned computer room space available for clients who wish to contract for this space, independently of the hot-site facility. Cold-site space is included in the hot-site service.

Plans are underway to install a second hot-site for the provision of services to Hewlett-Packard users.
The CRF and HP recently signed an agreement which will ensure HP users of comprehensive disaster recovery services, utilizing the expertise of both companies in the areas in which each specializes. The range of service is described in the following diagram.

Communications Recovery

To support subscribers in their recovery of computer processing in either the hot-site or cold-site facility, the CRF offers elaborate communications recovery support. At the present time there are 800 pairs of cable pre-wired into the building. The pre-planning of the cabling into the CRF included routing half of the cabling into the building from different routes, allowing for diversity and communication backup in the event of faulty or cut cable as a result of construction or other interruptions in service. Expansion of our communications service in the future includes plans for satellite transmission to effect telecommunication links with remote sites and linking up with international networks.

The recovery facility also plans to establish remote communication centers, when warranted, in other cities in Malaysia and South East Asia. These centers will include remote consoles, printers, and communications linked directly to the hot-site, allowing subscribers access to the CRF from their local locations. The remote locations will include facilities to house the subscriber’s staff.

Consulting and Subscriber Services

The CRF also offers subscribers consulting services. The consultants employed by the CRF are experienced staff with many years of planning, building and maintaining disaster recovery plans in the North American market place.

The services provided by the consultants to the subscribers includes education, training, security reviews, developing alternative strategies, business impact analysis, file backup and offsite storage reviews. A significant offering of this division of the CRF is conducting disaster recovery awareness seminars. The CRF recently held six such half-day seminars which were filled to capacity and well-received. The seminars are also offered to subscribers on an individual company basis and can be tailored to specifications.

Subscribers services is a department in the sales and marketing organization. The responsibilities of this group include scheduling client tests, administrative support, tours, orientation, briefings to subscribers, maintaining and issuing user manuals for both hot-site and offsite subscribers. They are the central focus point in account management and the buffer for all communication to and from the Computer Recovery Facility. Plans for subscriber services also include the formation of users groups and the development of a disaster recovery newsletter in the very near future.

To support the clients in the development of disaster recovery plans, the CRF recently signed an agreement with ChiCor for the rights to use two of their PC-based recovery software packages: Disaster and TRPS. Disaster and TRPS are in use in 47 countries around the world and with over of 1000 clients, 40% of which are Fortune 500 companies.

With the addition of these two comprehensive packages and the assistance of the consulting staff, the timeframe for the development and preparation of plans will be shortened significantly and TRPS can manage multiple sites and company business contingency plans.


The awareness and need for recovery services in Malaysia is quickly becoming a mandatory requirement with government guidelines and IT organizations focusing in on the vital aspect of business contingency and data center availability. The Computer Recovery Facility saw the void in the marketplace and has put together a facility and an organization to support the business community with a comprehensive service offering and leadership unequalled in this part of the world.

Doug Allan is the Center Manager at the Computer Recovery Facility in Malaysia.

This article adapted from Vol. 4 No. 2, p. 46.

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