So last month we explored the question ‘Is Five 9’s A Reasonable Expectation?’. You can link back to it by clicking here. To quickly recap, five 9’s as it relates to your dial tone provider, equates to no more than 5 minutes and 26 seconds of downtime per year (or broken down further to 25.9 seconds per month, or 6.05 seconds per week). This short, “unavailable” time period is not only measured by actual downtime but also includes routine maintenance.
It occurred to me that expecting five 9’s of availability seems so unrealistic, but my thinking may be somewhat cloudy and here’s why. IDeACOM has a major responsibility to so many clients as their phone system support provider. Over the past year, a high percentage of our service requests resulted from carrier issues, which we have no control over. And our clients are using different dial tone providers, which include traditional carriers, cable companies and VoIP based services. So from that perspective, the five 9’s benchmark sure seems unattainable. When in fact, it could be that I am just too close to the situation.
So let’s put my paranoia aside for a minute and learn a valuable lesson from these service interruptions. And I will start with a question. What can you do to protect yourself and maintain business continuity in the face of a dial tone service outage, or even worse, a natural disaster? This is what we hope to tackle this month. We’ll discuss some ideas and share our experience in an effort to help you get through the next crisis.
During my past 25 years in telecommunications I’ve heard a handful of people comment about how much simpler things were when Ma Bell controlled everything. While there may be some truth to that, times have changed dramatically since Divestiture in 1983, so it’s not a fair assessment. After all, can you imagine using a rotary phone today (for those that remember them)? Uhhmm, NO! How about paying $0.99 a minute for your phone calls? Exactly!
So let’s stop reminiscing about the good old phone company who wouldn’t survive as they existed back then in today’s fast-paced, technology-savvy society. New technology is necessary. It provides us with more efficient ways of getting things done. This equates to a savings of time and money. ‘Nuf said…
So how can you protect yourself and maintain business continuity in the face of a disaster? The top 3 strategies include:
- Failover. The ability to “automatically” redirect your inbound calls in the event of a provider, power, or phone equipment issue. Ideally this failover could be directed to another office. But if that’s not an option, you can engage another service provider in your system, your cell phone (depending on your business), a mailbox in the cloud, or as a last resort, an answering service. By the way, the mailbox in the cloud provides the highest reliability and allows you to leverage the quickest response.
- Remote Access. If your office has power and Internet, but you are unable to enter the building due to flooding, down trees, or some other reason, tapping into your VoIP phone system’s remote capabilities will become a priority. Since your clients may reside outside of your area or state and be unaffected by your emergency, you need to be able to answer & process inbound calls. You can do this in a few different ways.
- First, with remote phones. But this needs to be set up in advance.
- Second, you can log into your phone system on your laptop or home computer, and answer & direct calls as if you were in the office.
- Third, you can enable Find Me / Follow Me and simultaneously ring multiple phones including your cell phone. If you pair this with your desktop software, you can transfer callers to other users’ extensions, cell phones, or their voice mail. Disaster aside, Find Me / Follow Me is a powerful capability during normal operations if your business thrives on being accessible and providing quick response to your clients.
- VoLTE – Voice Over Long Term Evolution. While researching this topic, I discovered some data about a future technology solution referred to as Voice Over IP over LTE. Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE), is the same wireless technology used to transmit high speed data for mobile phones (aka 4G). Aside from the 4G LTE wireless carrier networks for mobile phones, we have not yet seen VoIP over VoLTE solutions other than it being mentioned in print. So we’ll keep you informed as things develop in the future. VoIP over VoLTE is intended to deliver HD voice, video, instant messaging, and other features to mobile users in a faster, more improved way.
If you are hesitant or avoiding the new VoIP technology for whatever reason, just make sure it’s for the right reason(s). There are far too many tangible advantages, benefits and savings involved, with very little risk. So please don’t dismiss VoIP as an unreliable technology because of a war-story that a friend of a friend told you, or a bad experience you had 10 years ago. If VoIP is designed right, your uptime will be high and productive. However, if VoIP is improperly deployed, your mileage will vary and you will probably be unhappy.
As the saying goes, “If it don’t work, it’s the network” ~ Jeff Haas.
So let IDeACOM help you get it right!