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How Unified Communications Aids Disaster Recovery

Tuesday, May 26, 2015 - 14:30
UC for Disaster Recovery

So you’re back in the company warehouse, pulling some samples to be shipped, and you suddenly notice water pouring in near the shipping/receiving door due to a burst pipe.  Management offices are on the other side of the building and the only phone nearby is the cell phone in your hand.  What do you do?  

With traditional office communication systems, you are not likely to have all manager phone numbers or extensions stored in your cell phone contact list.  But, with unified communications, you have access to a complete company directory that allows you to quickly notify the correct contact for the situation.  

Furthermore, you could even turn that call with the maintenance manager into a video call that allows the manager to share a building schematic with guides to the shutoff valves for the burst pipes. Large-scale disaster averted!

All with the assistance of Unified Communications (UC)

This scenario is just one example of how UC can become an integral part of your enterprise’s business continuity and disaster recovery plan.  There are a number of ways in which UC can play a critical role in your enterprise’s disaster recovery plan and how it has the potential to save your organization time and money in the event of an interruption to your business.

Voice Services and Presence

In the event of a power outage or natural disaster that knocks an on-prem PBX out of commission, Unified Communications can be used to intelligently route incoming calls to a business’s alternate locations, to cell phones, remote desk phones, or client interface.  These UC tools can also be used on mobile devices and tablets to show presence and utilize chat or instant messaging if office machines are not reachable.

Furthermore, UC tools like presence allow employees to quickly connect with one another in a disaster situation, acting as a check-in system for accountability.  Moreover, utilizing the functionality of company directories and contact lists make it easier to quickly notify customers of the outage and how it might affect upcoming business interactions or transactions.

Video Conferencing and Collaboration

Video conferencing can be an extremely useful tool in a disaster, as indicated by the disaster recovery scenario in the opening paragraph.  First responders can harness knowledge across global time zones using this UC feature.  It can be a powerful tool for assessing a situation and being able to pull in the proper resources for assistance.

For a business, video conferencing can be used to identify damage, document assets, and – in an enterprise with multiple locations – help the disaster site to gain access to documentation that can expedite the recovery process.

Maintain your Plan

Many companies overlook this critical step.  Having a plan is step #1, but if the plan is never tested, how do you know it will actually work in an actual crisis?  It would be wise to have training sessions for employees periodically, so they know how to access data and voice features from mobile devices or other remote machines located outside of the office.  

To ensure this training becomes a regularly tested part of your business continuity plan, one option is to periodically require that staff members to work from home or an alternate, remote location.  In this way, any issues that arise during the test can be overcome prior to any potential real-life disaster situation.

SIP Trunking

More and more companies are adopting the use of SIP Trunks.  SIP trunking is a VoIP and streaming media service based on the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), where Internet Telephony Service Providers (ITSPs) deliver telephone services and unified communications to locations that have UC-capable SIP-based PBXs.  SIP trunking can allow any organization to support many kinds of collaborative applications over and above traditional voice systems. View the video below to learn more about SIP Trunking.

A product like West Unified Communications Services' MaxxConnect simplifies the enterprise network architecture through voice and data convergence.  It allows a company to make the most out of its existing investment in PBX infrastructure by offering cloud-based voice services that work with on–site PBXs.

Some communications companies now offer Unified Communications disaster recovery tools as an option for their customers as well.  One such example is Disaster Recovery and Survivability(DRS) from West UC.  DRS removes the costs and complexities generally associated with implementing a Disaster Recovery infrastructure by giving customers an integrated suite of cloud-based call control and unified communications tools.  DRS ties in seamlessly with MaxxConnect IP Trunking to provide customers survivability from any type of interruption, such as an equipment failure, natural or man-made disaster, power loss, and more.

In all of these ways and more, Unified Communications can truly provide continuous communications when a disaster occurs. So when it comes time to plan or review your enterprise’s business continuity and disaster recovery plan, be sure to harness the power of UC for employee efficiency and productivity on a daily basis. And to reduce the impact of an unforeseen disaster and minimize downtime and maximize recovery efforts, utilize Unified Communications tools, if, and when, a disaster strikes your business.


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