Selling VoIP as a Disaster Recovery Solution

September 25, 2009

5 Min Read
Selling VoIP as a Disaster Recovery Solution

By William Bumbernick

As the economy struggles, hosted VoIP continues to explode. Businesses choose hosted VoIP for many reasons: lower upfront fees, unlimited scalability up or down, mitigation of technology obsolescence, but for this article I want to focus on how hosted VoIP improves telecommunications continuity and brings profit opportunity to you, the channel partner.

The bottom line is many of your clients are asking for hosted VoIP services and either you have a solid play or they’ll find another avenue to fulfill their needs. At the same time, customers are complaining about decreasing sales and declining disaster recovery budgets. But the importance of preparing to recover your voice systems for unplanned downtime — power outages, acts of God, fires, floods, etc. — does not go away in a downturn. Whether it’s an environment-related catastrophe or small neighborhood blackout, these interruptions can cost your client thousands upon thousands of dollars in lost revenue, potential customer loss and even a reduced corporate image. Unlike most other disaster recovery products, if positioned properly, hosted VoIP is not perceived as an additional cost, but rather a cost savings. So, before you walk away, here some best practices for selling disaster recovery using a hosted VoIP solution.

1. Implement a work-from-home strategy. Most disaster recovery plans are centered around protecting the customer premise that include costly systems at the customer’s location or an alternative hot site, miles away. Most plans have little consideration for the access of technology and personnel to reach the planned recovery site. In an event such as weather, illness, family issue or a regionalized disaster that precludes workers from working in their usual offices, remote office features of hosted VoIP will allow employees to work from home comfortably while not incurring extra costs to your client. A business’s customers will not realize their employees are working from a remote location since dialing and receiving calls remains unchanged. In addition, management does not need to change its process in order to maintain control of their employees. They can monitor exactly what their employees are doing just as if the employees were working from the office using call status monitoring, call reporting and recording, etc.

2. Move call control outside the building. If the call control is maintained in the impacted building, then there are many limitations. Someone needs to be in the building, and someone needs to call a PBX maintenance person. If the local PBX vendor cannot solve the problem, then the fun really begins. Also figure in wait times and hold times with the carrier to rerouting your calls. Hours and days are sometimes a reality! Lost time means lost revenue and added customer frustration. For many who have experienced this situation in the past, it is not too hard to imagine.

The ability to maintain call control out of the building and using a network-based model afforded by hosted VoIP immediately can satisfy most telecommunications continuity needs. But the real value is giving the company (or its IT department) maximum control over the telephony infrastructure outside and inside their demarcation point. With this added control, your client will never miss a call since users can reroute any incoming calls to cell phones, home office numbers, recovery sites or wherever they choose and, most importantly, whenever they choose.

3. Ensure component redundancy. Traditional on-premises hardware vendors will stress the necessity of on-premises hardware redundancy. While it is critical to have properly architected on-premises redundancy in regards to telephony, buying twice as much equipment is not always cost effective and still does not protect failures outside your building. In a well-planned hosted model, you will be able to mitigate most single points of failure without the need to buy any extra hardware. Further, the customer is eliminated from the responsibility and the cost to secure their and their telecommunications’ carrier infrastructure.

4. Assess the carrier infrastructure. As you consider mitigating single points of failure at your customer’s location, it is just as important to assess the resiliency and redundancy of their telecommunications provider’s network. With properly architected live failover network architecture, you can eliminate single points of failure that would be impossible with a traditional TDM carrier solution. With most TDM solutions the phone is geographically tied to a specific Central Office switch. If that Class 5 carrier switch dies or there is a fire at the data center where the telecom carrier switch is housed, then all numbers will need to physically be rebuilt into another switch. Telecom customers can be without service for days since these switches often house millions of phone numbers and rebuilding them into another switch is very time intensive. Since Class 5 softswitches used by hosted VoIP service providers can eliminate all geographic ties a phone call has with a physical location, switch outages can be mitigated by live failover and geographically diverse switching platforms.

During Hurricane Katrina, for example, most of the traditional providers’ COs were under water. Our company ported the numbers over to our softswitch customers and had their phone numbers ring to another site in another state. In addition, there was no remote call forwarding (RCF) and no down time.

In a properly architected hosted IP PBX model that is built for redundancy with multiple switches at many locations and live failover, you almost can assure 100 percent inbound call capacity to any planned or unplanned recovery site. A holistic disaster recovery plan always will address single points of failure on the customer premises as well as the telecom carrier location. Hosted VoIP eliminates both on-premises and telecom carrier TDM limitations and saves the customer money while providing healthy new commissions for the channel.

William Bumbernick is CEO of Alteva LLC, a hosted VoIP provider. He has more than 12 years of senior management and entrepreneurial experience in telecommunications, IT and managed services.

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