There is nothing worse than when the phone stops ringing and you get that cold clammy feeling that your day has been completely turned upside down. To make matters even worst, you know everyone will know your name and your cell number by the end of the day if they don’t already.
Deep breath, you just learned the phones stopped ringing because the local utility just cut your fiber that connects your data center where all of your VoIP services originate. No worries! We have a backup site with all of the same equipment waiting for this exact scenario to happen.
All we have to do is re-route all of the traffic and everything will be well…. that won’t work, the data center is now a stranded island of digital discontent, there is no way in or out. Okay plan “B” enable the service on the backup units and everything will be fine! That won’t work either because the primary authentication is in the main data center which now has no access. What is the ETR on the fiber? Regardless of the answer, every second that goes by, your organization racks up more dollars of idle employees waiting to perform their jobs. The heat is on.
Hindsight is 20/20 but more often than not, budgets get in the way of true planning. Implementing redundant hardware and software is a safe guard but it does not equate to a Disaster Recovery Plan. The overall problem is the traditional view of disaster recovery planning is defined as the complete loss of a building due to a fire or natural causes. I get that. How about a complete loss of services?
A fiber cut is at a minimum a 4-hour outage. From a math perspective you can see how that will affect the business. Let’s setup the basic parameters in order establish a budget and worst case scenario costs.
Assumption #1: Your operations cost of $50 an hour per employee to run
Assumption #2: (100) employees
Assumption #3: Minimum outage time of (4) hours
Math: $50 per operational hour x 100 employees = $5,000 x 4 hrs = $20,000
Depending on the type of business you can easily scale the cost of idling during an outage. This is a generalization used to establish a base line understanding of the cost of an outage for planning purposes. We now have a budget of $20,000 to work with to offset the potential loss business activities due to a loss of services.
The next step is to determine what makes the most sense for the business in terms of hardware, software and or third party support services to mitigate the risk of lost services. You might find that building in redundancy might not be as cost effective as making a couple changes in the way you architect the network and how it is used. Overall the net gain will be a more resilient network infrastructure with a built-in disaster recovery plan.
For the plan to be effective, all aspects of connectivity including security needs should be considered. To ensure it works as expected, a network outage must be simulated and applications tested to in real-time during the outage. Finally, the documentation must be created and updated to ensure a reliable source of knowledge is available for future Administrators to support.
From a practical perspective, redundancy does not equal a disaster recovery plan nor does it facilitate all potential outage variables. I can assure you that with proper planning your cell number will remain private and the phones will continue to ring!