A Beginner’s Guide to Disaster Recovery and your Telephone System
So how do you plan for Business Continuity around your phone system? In light of the multiple natural disasters that have plagued the US, it is prudent to review this now.
The world of telephony is changing. Subtly, over the past several years, there has been continual change as the convergence of voice and data continues. Everyone agrees about the need to have data accessible via some cloud strategy. What I have discovered is that people think primarily about the data, and the idea of keeping the pulse of your business alive – your phone system, is relegated to a distant second place. Phones are taken for granted, and, as a result, most people do not even know the questions to ask.
The purpose of this article is not to provide you with all the answers but to help you start thinking and asking better questions. A checklist is included at the end.
We start with deciding between a premise-based system and a hosted one. The way Disaster Recovery (DR) is handled with Hosted systems IS NOT the same as with premise-based systems.
How do you identify a premise-based system? It is fairly simply. If the PBX is located in your building it is premise-based. Your carrier connects directly to that PBX. They have responsibility to deliver dial tone to that PBX only. Meaning if that PBX is not “there” to receive that call, the person originating the call will get a fast busy. For the customer to not get a fast busy that PBX will need to stay up. This means that you need extra protection, extra features and even a secondary PBX to protect you in case of a natural disaster.
You will want need to talk to your PBX maintenance person about an off site PBX or off site backups. You will also need to talk to your carrier about what to do when your PBX is off line. Where can you forward your calls? The most common answer is to a cell phone. You will need to keep in mind that one cell will get every call that comes on that forwarded number with no ability to transfer that call. Plus, juggling calls in a cell is not easy, and, typically, you can only manage two calls at a time.
Hosted VoIP is a model that leverages the Internet. The idea is that the call control is out of the building and in the cloud. You should make sure that the company that is hosting the PBX (call control server) has it housed in a facility like a carrier hotel and is, preferably, georedundant. Georedundancy means that the facility is operating at more than one geographical location, as a form of redundancy in the of case site failure.
Hosted systems have become more popular as VoIP has become a stable and effective business model.
But not all hosted VoIP providers are the same. It is very much caveat emptor when it comes to VoIP, especially if you are basing your choice of providers exclusively on price. When considering a telephony DR plan you must be an educated buyer and interview each potential vendor. A separate article will cover how to interview VoIP providers.
Click here for a simple check list that will help organize some of your thoughts around DR. It is meant as a starting point and is far from an exhaustive list. A comprehensive DR plan will spell out hourly costs associated with downtime, a business impact analysis, and action guide that outlines the roles and responsibilities of each employee.
Most companies do not do this exhaustive planning and become comfortable as long as “most bases are covered”. The checklist below is designed to assist in helping you start to think through some of the major needs. You can count on a high-quality VoIP provider to assist with DR planning. You can reach any of our experts at (718) 887-0330 to discuss your company’s specific Disaster Recovery needs. We look forward to hearing from you.