3 Ways to add UC to your disaster recovery plan

(Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay)
(Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay)

It’s easier than ever to include your UC system in your DR plan and considering how tightly integrated it is into many businesses now, it should be.  In the past, phone systems were hard-wired and left few options for DR.  However, with newer technology there are plenty of options to consider so you can make sure interactions with your customers are still possible during a disaster.  Here are 3 ways you can include communications in your DR strategy:

Cloud
A cloud voice system is separate from your physical location and won’t likely be affected by a local disaster.  Each extension can remain available on a mobile app, or you can take your handset anywhere with an internet connection and it will still work.  If your main office goes offline your branch office and remote users will be completely unaffected.  Your customers won’t even know anything is happening.  You just need to have a plan and educate your employees on it.  It is prudent, however, to make sure your cloud provider has their own DR plan.

Virtualization
UC is really now just another application in your environment.  Most organizations already have virtualization technology to support the rest of their IT, so your phone system can simply be incorporated into it.  Virtualization removes your dependence on proprietary phone system hardware, and takes advantage of the scalability, redundancy, and portability of virtual machines.  In this case you must make sure your virtual infrastructure is part of your DR plan, but as long as it remains available so will your phone system.  Make sure you consider your dial-tone – if you’re using a PRI you’ll need one in the backup location.  If you use SIP, make sure it’s configured to recognize the backup location.

SIP Trunking
SIP replaces the use of a PRI or analog telephone lines for dial tone for an on-premise system.  It has significantly more flexibility than older technology and increases your phone system’s resiliency.  Since it is internet-based, it can be accessed from anywhere if it is configured to recognize the location.  Combined with a virtual infrastructure you can make your system portable, allowing you to start up in an alternate location without having to pay for a second PRI there.

Hosted PBX – Is it right for you?

Cloud communications is a hot topic and everyone’s doing it.  Is it right for you?
It might be.  It’s not perfect for every business, but for most it is a great fit.  Cloud PBX, or Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a cost effective way of delivering advanced communication features to small and medium businesses.  Integration with Outlook and your CRM, instant messaging, video calling, desktop and document sharing, mobile access, call recording, even call centre functionality are all available to anyone.  These features used to only be available to companies with the money to shell out for an on-premise UC system – but not anymore.

Why hosted?
You are likely already hosting some or all of your data and applications in the cloud.  Many at least are using Office 365.  This is another opportunity to eliminate the capital and maintenance costs of hardware and software running in your office, as well as reduce ongoing costs for analog or PRI connections.  You may also be able to reduce or eliminate some hardware in your server room, and won’t ever have to worry about replacing or upgrading it.
UCaaS also gives you greater levels of redundancy, flexibility, and security.  Anywhere you go, your phone extension and collaborations tools go with you.  If your office becomes unavailable or disconnected, you can still make and receive calls through a mobile app or softphone with no interruption.  Expand and contract your system to meet your needs as your business grows or moves through busier or slower times of the year.  These are all capabilities that would be very expensive to duplicate on your own system and they provide significant value to your business.

Why not?As with all cloud applications, they aren’t for everyone.  Larger businesses with hundreds or thousands of employees may actually find it more expensive because they can easily support their own infrastructure.  Some businesses may have regulations governing them that prevent the use of some or all cloud platforms – particularly if it is hosted in the U.S.  Also, an on-premise phone system often provides more options for integration with other systems or applications – especially for custom-written applications.  

The case for on-premise phone systems is still very real.  Despite the hype and push towards cloud, most of the top tier UC vendors are still selling, supporting and developing their physical solutions.  There will be a place for these systems in many types of businesses for many years to come.

If you want to find out if this is the right move for you, contact us at sales@optinet.caor 604-288-1300.  We’ll help you take your communication strategy to the next level!

Unified Communications can save money and improve customer satisfaction

Unified Communications can save money and improve customer satisfaction

We discussed in our last blog how unified communications can hoster greater collaboration and workplace functionality, but today we’ll look its value to the “back of the house” and external customers. Unified communications offers opportunities for operational improvements and cost savings, as well as opening up new pathways to create greater customer satisfaction.

Move many IT expenses out of the expense budget – Unified communications can migrate many of your channels to the cloud, eliminating a lot of IT hardware expenses, and moving them into a more predictable, monthly expense.

Cuts down on internal IT support – Because much of Unified communications relies of the cloud and the SaaS (Software- as- a -service) model to integrate communications, you have less hardware and software on the ground that all require support, upgrades, backups, and maintenance.

Create a more centralized point of responsibility – When you have multiple communication channels all operating independently, you rely on many individual vendors, none of whom may work effectively together. With a unified communications model you move toward a single point of responsibility for your operational integrity.

In summary, understand that unified communications is an outgrowth of the explosion of workplace communications channels. With multiple communication channels, our ability to communicate becomes fractured and increasingly awkward. But it isn’t just for the users of the many communication channels that suffer. Non-integrated communication channels create an unwieldy IT infrastructure. It may also cause some duplication of support costs, as well as fractured oversight and responsibility. It also creates situations that can foster customer frustration and discontent. If you’d like to begin exploring how unified communications could benefit your organization, contact a managed service provider with expertise in this area.