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Recent disclosures of confidential information highlight just how easy it is for electronic data to fall into the wrong hands. "The chance of this kind of thing happening is far higher than many people believe," Stephen Ho, CEO of CPCNet Hong Kong, explained. "People are trying to break into companies' networks all the time for one reason or another, so there is a real threat not just from lax management of data, but also from external forces."

One of the many worries facing bosses who are having to manage several offices or factories in various locations is how can they ensure a secure and reliable link from their headquarters in Central to branch offices in the Mainland, around Asia and even around the world? How much would that cost? Would it be more cost effective to outsource or safer to build your own network? Would it be expandable?

A number of technologies have been around for some time now, with Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) being one of the most popular choices. This technology standard enables secure and efficient transmission of data, voice and video applications more cheaply than a traditional private network connection.

"MPLS is the technology that drives our TrueConnect virtual private network (VPN) service, and it is the first MPLS VPN available in Greater China," Mr Ho said. "One of the greatest concerns of multinationals going into China is ensuring that they have 100% security and connectivity for their business operations."

CPCNet, a subsidiary of Citic Pacific, offers various packages based on its Connect backbone, ranging from an Express package, which offers multiple client sites over existing Internet connections, to its top-of-the-line Premium package.

TrueConnect Express uses CPCNet's MPLS IP backbone to allow users to manage their IP VPN services. This may involve optimizing your system to suit different business applications, such as email, Intranet, Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) and VoIP, etc. MPLS makes this possible by applying labels to packets running through the network. Users can give priority labels on individual data packets running across a shared network infrastructure. Mr Ho calls this Class-of-Service (CoS) and predefined Quality of Service (QoS). For some companies, having this level of control allows them to prioritize data flows to guarantee smooth transmission of time-critical data such as during voice or video conferencing.

To guarantee security and quality, the company has a "One Region, One Network" solution through self-managed points-of-presence (POPs) in Hong Kong, major cities in the Mainland, as well as Taipei, Tokyo, Singapore, Europe and the U.S.

"We have concentrations of POPs in Guangdong Province, which is where most Hong Kong companies are based, and in Shanghai and Beijing, but we don't have them in Mongolia and places like that because it is not yet cost effective to have them where there are lower concentrations of businesses," he explained.

With the implementation of CEPA and encouragement by Hong Kong and Mainland governments to boost their business in the Mainland, demand for hassle-free and cost effective data communications has been growing exponentially, Mr Ho said.

CEPA has made it easier than ever for Hong Kong businesses to set up operations in the Mainland, and with China further opening up to honour its WTO obligations, the tide of businesses looking for such solutions will continue to grow.

"There is something of a misconception among businesses that achieving reliable and secure communications in the Mainland is difficult and expensive," Mr Ho said. "The reality is that Internet technologies have eliminated the need for expensive international leased lines. Even so, some people still prefer to us these, like some people still use IDD. CPCNet's TrueConnect is a virtual private network service offering secure connection at a very affordable price."

Company: CPCNet Hong Kong Limited

Year joined HKGCC: 2001

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