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Role of Hosted PBX in Disaster Recovery Planning

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Recent events in Japan bring me back to the subject of service survivability and business continuity in the event of a natural disaster. Japan is heavily reliant on VoIP for its telephony. In a way, this has been another significant test of IP communications in a disaster and it appears that the outcome paints fairly well. IP communications certainly are along the road to providing the resilience and security available to people in need. However, widespread blackouts are affecting Tokyo, which has reduced the amount of time that users have access to the Internet.

Businesses downtime could be immensely expensive and organizations are becoming aware of the required resilient capabilities of their communications systems. Today’s business continuity plans must include redundant data centers, redundant telecommunications capabilities, and redundant IT resources. Indeed, in an event of any magnitude, your communications networks must perform flawlessly. They are critical, not just in terms of protecting your people and keeping them informed, but also in terms of quantifiable losses that will occur when you fail to involve this component in your planning efforts. To manage your business effectively during an event, you must be able to “protect and connect” the people whose work is what actually generates business profits.

A key element of a comprehensive continuity plan is the need for an emergency communication and notification system. For maximum effectiveness, communication systems must provide both inbound and outbound communications capabilities. One key capability of hosted communications is that of a “virtual rally point” – a message center accessible through a range of channels – that can manage inevitable spikes in traffic as employees, customers, partners and others attempt to learn what’s happening and understand what they need to do.

As you consider mitigating single points of failure at your business location, it is just as important to assess the resiliency and redundancy of their telecommunications provider’s network.

For a Hosted telecommunications service provider, reducing the physical risk of catastrophic facility failure starts with site selection. Data center downtime caused by geographically predictable natural threats (earthquakes, hurricanes, lightning storms, tornadoes, floods, etc.) are not ‘Acts of God’ but are, instead, management errors. The most important decision a CIO can make is finding the right location for the Data Center. Finding a site that is located in a soft risk area is equally important as having multiple sites to ensure continued operations. Soft Switches used by hosted VoIP service providers can eliminate all geographic ties a phone call has with a physical location, switch outages can be mitigated by live failover and geographically diverse switching platforms. During Hurricane Katrina, for example, most of the traditional providers’ Central Offices ended up under water and hosted Service providers rushed to port numbers to the soft switches tied to PSTN network in other states.

Every business depends heavily on voice communications; even the briefest outage can cause loss of business, income, and credibility. When carefully designed and implemented, Hosted VoIP service carries a promise of Telecommunications Continuity and Voice Disaster Recovery using Modern VoIP and Hosted Telephony Technology with infrastructure options and capabilities that were once considered unattainable!

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