Post-flood Reflections on Communication and Business Continuance

In light of the recent flooding in our Colorado community, I have been thinking a lot about disaster recovery strategies and some top priorities every organization should consider. This all came about when I experienced a busy signal when calling an organization on a Boulder County telephone system. What alarmed me was that this organization has 24 hr hotlines. No business can afford to be affected by a busy signal especially one that has support lines for people who are in trouble. So I thought of four communication must-haves in terms of disaster recover: 1. hosted PBX, 2. Collocation/ IaaS, 3. Virtual Desktops, and 4. choose a fiber circuit.

Hosted PBX versus On-premise solutions: Though there are benefits to both, hosted PBX has an online interface where any end-user can manage their voicemail, forwarding calls, and much more. Super Admin users can change call flow and company messages. If the organization I mentioned was on a hosted PBX system, then even if the lines were down, the call could be routed to a different number. Any employee can access the web interface remotely (from their home) and update the ‘find me follow me” function to forward all calls to a phone number of their choice. From a disaster standpoint, hosted PBX allows calls to go through even when the telephone lines are down. For a more detailed comparison of PBX systems check out our information sheet.

Collocation servers versus on-premise servers: Data centers are typically more regulated (not to mention more secure) than your average business server closet, have back-up power and ensure consistent uptime with generators. Colocate with a provider who is SOC audited to ensure that they uphold their commitment to secure and protect your servers in their environment. Ask about adding a hypervisor to your server so that you can convert your server to a virtual machine that is fully redundant. This will provide the added benefit to recover your data anywhere anytime.  Here is a checklist to review a data center for your needs.

Virtual Desktops and IaaS: It is essential when you have a week where you are not able to access your building to have some business continuance. Virtual Desktops can be beneficial for basic mobility or in the case of a disaster when you can not physically get to your building provide a means to continue working on . For day to day, virtual desktops also become a lifesaver for your IT team. The team can conduct mass software and security upgrades on the fly in batch. Cloud hosted solutions can be accessed anywhere anytime and are fully redundant. There are certainly a lot of options out there. So look for total cost and monthly usage commitments when selecting a vendor. Here at FORETHOUGHT.net we have absolutely no month usage commitments. If you decide to use zero services for the month then there is no cost to you.

Where available choose a fiber circuit.Fiber is not typically affected by extreme weather conditions in contrast to copper.  You can also request that your provider  installs a back-up battery enabled fiber box so you can still have access to the internet for even a short time if there is a black out and no power to your building. See our current fiber building map for more information: http://forethought.net/business/on-net-lit-building-map/ and if we’re not on there, call us to verify more fiber opportunities.

What it really comes down to is on-premise solutions versus cloud solutions. Though there are cost benefits to both, from a disaster-recovery stand-point cloud wins.