June 7th, 2017
By: Lindsey Kocel
IT outages are inevitable. Whether it is from a natural disaster, network outage, or something else, it's not a question of if; it's a question of when. Having a solid Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery strategy allows you minimize downtime, saving money and resources in the process. It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to BCDR planning specifically for voice communications.
If you have cloud-based phone service you are one step ahead because it offers more resiliency and flexibility than traditional phone systems in regards to protecting your business phone system. How do you take advantage of this and ensure you are getting the most out of your BCDR planning?
At IntelePeer, one way we like to look at BCDR is as a chain made up of three links. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so it's important to make sure you're prepared in case one breaks. Here are some of the things to consider for each link when building your BCDR chain.
Link #1: Network access
This first link in the BCDR chain is network access, which refers to how you are receiving service from your voice services provider and how they help protect your communications. What happens if a data center goes down? It's key that you have:
- A redundant network connection. Having a secondary connection that mirrors your primary one is the cornerstone of any BCDR plan. Ideally, this secondary connection would be in a data center in a different geographical region so any issues in the primary region wouldn't have an impact on the secondary one.
- The ability to dynamically failover to DIDs outside of the provider's network. This provides an extra layer of assurance that you will be able to recover quickly - as long as the outage is only occurring in your provider's network.
Link #2: Customer access
The next link to look at is what we call customer access, or how you reach your provider's network. In the case of cloud-based phone service, this refers to your internet access. What would happen if your Internet Service Provider (ISP) went down? Here's how you can proactively prepare for disruptions in your internet:
- Deploy a dual ISP model. Your primary internet connection would be used for the connection and a secondary connection to serve as the backup. With only one circuit you risk being hard down because there isn't another connection that could be used to connect your service.
- Have preferred primary and secondary routing on the same trunk group. This way if your provider is unable to reach your primary deployment, they can automatically failover to your secondary deployment. Your team and provider can focus on getting the primary connection back online while calls are able to complete through the secondary connection.
Link #3: Customer gear deployment
The third link is also on the customer side but refers to how your equipment is set up. To have the strongest link of gear deployment, we recommend the following:
- Have dual sites with dual instances. How many deployments do you have? Are they collocated? Similar to what we mentioned above in regards to network redundancy, having more than one equipment site means you have an even deeper level of backup that operates in the same way, avoiding the resources it would take to recreate the initial set up from scratch.
- Run dual sites active/active instead of hot/cold. When you run your sites hot/cold, the primary site is operating 100% of the time and then goes to cold failover at the primary site after an incident has already occurred. With an active/active design, both sites operate simultaneously, which decreases recovery time.
- Choose a provider that is bandwidth-agnostic. Most providers require you to use their bandwidth for delivery which can hinder your redundancy and resiliency abilities. Going with a provider that is bandwidth-agnostic (hint: we are!) means you have more flexibility in terms of network design and BCDR planning because we let you have more than one ISP and circuit. You get more resiliency when it's easy for your provider to shift traffic around when things are working in one place but not another.
At IntelePeer we don't mess around when it comes to protecting your business communications and ensuring a quick recovery in case of an outage. Contact us to learn more and get started on designing a BCDR chain that is strong at every link.