Keep up communications, whatever the weather

If you want the business to enjoy all the advantages of a hosted phone system, get ready to commit to the disaster recovery options that you will need as well.

January 2014 was the wettest ever since records began in 1910, with 100% more rain than average. Meanwhile, in the first 12 days of February, meteorologists expected 16mm of rainfall; in the event, 79mm fell.

I don’t know about you but I am not at all surprised by the fact that co-location companies are reporting record numbers of enquiries about disaster recovery in the wake of the floods (as well as related weather challenges, like the severe winds that have taken down power lines, disrupting travel and transport).

Whatever may or may not be happening with climate change, what is certain is that what seems to be an endless string of ‘record’ weather events is piling up one after the other, suggesting it’s prudent to make sure your company could

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But disasters are far from always being initiated by Mother Nature. In 2005 a major fire broke out in an oil depot in a location probably few of us had ever heard of; Buncefield. The ramifications of what started off as an industrial accident simply grew and grew, taking many businesses offline for days – with 25% of local firms still reporting impaired business as a result two years on.

The warnings are pretty clear. We are living in an age where the weather seems to be getting more and more unpredictable. And that unpredictability is increasingly translating to tough economic impact: 2009’s blizzards are estimated to have knocked billions out of GDP for the year, for example, with the mid-market being particularly badly affected. At the same time, a problem in one part of our connected, complicated 21st century infrastructure can easily proliferate and knock out many other parts.

Voice could be the first service to go down

So, yes, you will need a disaster recovery strategy. But your challenge may be more than just getting your website back online or your call centre staff safely delivered to a standby site. Your IP-based hosted phone system could easily be a very early casualty of some unexpected downtime (weather or man-made, doesn’t matter, of course).

This is going to be a very, very big problem as far as your business is concerned if you’re a smaller company trying to keep up with the competition – which these days means, basically, anyone on the planet with an internet connection. If you lose voice, you will be losing what most customers will still see as the default emergency medium of communication with you, after all.

How you set up your voice disaster recovery strategy is up to you – perhaps by using a cloud-based, hosted service, so that physical disruption at your site won’t affect it or working with a supplier with business continuity capability, which can route your calls to a safe harbour while you sort out your issues.

What is certain is that you do need to do something to protect your voice services – unless you think that you’re never going to see another headline about ‘record’ flood levels or snowfall.

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4 November 2014 | Cem Ahmet

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The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.