Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: What’s Your Plan?

Dave Leahy, Sales Manager

How a business accesses company resources and communicates with its customers speaks volumes about the priorities of an organization.  If an emergency or a service interruption were to occur, how prepared is your organization to respond to such an event?  The communications infrastructure becomes the most critical piece of a disaster recovery plan, and the implementation of that plan is a close second.

Downtime is Costly

Most companies are unaware of the real costs of downtime.  Tangible costs can include lost revenue, lost wages from idle employees, or even remediation costs.  The intangible costs, although more difficult to wrap your arms around, are still very real and could be even more impactful.  Those include, but are certainly not limited to, lost business opportunities, devaluation of stock, and damage to one’s branding.  These costs obviously vary depending on the business type, size, and criticality of telephony within the organization.

Premise-based phone solutions are vulnerable in this regard.  When either the equipment or the connectivity fails, so does the majority of call management capabilities.   Re-routing of inbound calls in this environment needs to be provisioned by the telecom provider, which can take hours (or even days in certain instances), and these options are limited in scope.  It is strongly recommended that you have a meaningful discussion with your traditional voice service provider to better understand these limitations, what disaster recovery options are available, and the provisioning intervals associated with each.

Businesses can avoid having to implement a Disaster Recovery plan if they adopt a robust Business Continuity strategy.  The difference between the two is considerable in terms of the impact to a business.  While a Disaster Recovery plan helps manage the restoration of communications after they have been severed, a successful Business Continuity plan helps to avoid that disruption altogether.

The VoiceStream Solution

VoiceStream offers high-availability and diversity with voice services, which is critical to any Business Continuity plan.  As a fully managed, hosted PBX solution, call management options reside in the cloud, and can be pre-programmed to seamlessly route calls to alternative locations and/or devices.  VoiceStream is hosted out of multiple U.S. data centers, offering several layers of redundancy, with respect to carrier access, power back-up, and equipment diversity.  Customers can also access the feature-rich web portal remotely to revise routing plans on demand…before, during or after disaster strikes.  Additionally, VoiceStream offers an optional mobility package that simultaneously terminates inbound calls to multiple devices (desktop, mobile, or soft client), assuring that a critical call is never missed.

When it comes to a successful Disaster Recovery plan, practice makes perfect.  Risk assessments should be reviewed annually, and event simulations should be rehearsed frequently.  In addition to the voice and data communications, test all hardware, software and personnel involved.  Staff members should have a clear understanding of their roles in the event of an emergency, and documenting best practices will help in the execution of those responsibilities.