Table of Contents
SIP, Virtualization, and the Cloud Enable New Paradigms in Disaster Response and Readiness
Migration from traditional TDM PBXs to IP-based unified communications platforms represents a significant shift in the communications network architecture. As organizations embrace this next generation of communications platforms, however, a reassessment of existing disaster recovery and business continuity (DR/BC) plans must also be undertaken. Compared to legacy solutions, the technologies in a modern UC environment offer a more resilient and flexible infrastructure, but require a different approach to recovery.
Migration from traditional time division multiplexing (TDM) private branch exchanges (PBX) to Internet protocol- based (IP) unified communications platforms represents a significant shift in the communications network architecture. As organizations embrace this next generation of communications platforms, however, a reassessment of existing disaster recovery and business continuity (DR/BC) plans must also be undertaken. Compared to legacy solutions the technologies in a modern unified communications (UC) environment offer a more resilient and flexible infrastructure, but require a different approach to recovery.
In DR/BC terms, there are two key metrics by which all decisions are driven: recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). RTO represents the amount of time needed to recover to a reasonable level of functionality. With the clock starting at the moment of a disaster, RTO is the time span until the application or platform can be accessed and used. RPO, on the other hand, defines the time period between the last secure storage of data, such as voice mail archives, chat logs or call recordings, and the moment of the disruptive incident. RPO represents the gap in data that will have to somehow be recreated after a major incident.
RTO and RPO metrics need to be defined by and specific to each business’ needs and risk profile. Defining RTO and RPO timeframes is ultimately achieved by striking a balance between minimizing the business risks of an extended outage, such as potential lost sales or customer dissatisfaction, with the costs of a particular response. While most chief executive officers (CEOs) would like to see near-zero RTO times, very few are willing to pay the costs associated with achieving that goal.
The current technologies being applied to enterprise communications, including VoIP services, server virtualization, and hosted or cloud-based solutions, can directly lower the time it takes to recover from a major event as well as minimize the data loss as a result of the event. This market insight highlights the advantages, opportunities and potential pitfalls associated with ensuring business continuity and disaster readiness in today’s highly dynamic unified communications networks.
SIP Trunking Enables Dynamic DR/BC Options
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking services offer an IP-based alternative to analog or digital Primary Rate Interface (PRI) services for connecting private, service provider and public networks. Due to specific benefits SIP trunking services are on pace to become the defacto communications link to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) for UC platforms. With respect to disaster recovery and business continuity SIP trunking offers a number of capabilities that are not possible or are cost-prohibitive on legacy circuits. Based on Voice over IP (VoIP), SIP trunk sessions are carried over a business data network rather than over the dedicated physical connections that analog or PRI circuits are delivered on. Voice calls are delivered around points of failure, whether on the network or the customer premises, and even in case of a metropolitan or regional outage. The SIP trunking services delivered by most service providers offer multiple tiers of failover options to match the particular needs of businesses of any size and scale.
Basic Number Forwarding — At a basic level, administrators can bypass the SIP trunks and redirect their voice calls to alternate PSTN telephone numbers via a web portal interface. In many cases telephone number redirects can be created as a predefined list, enabling administrators to log in to the web portal from anywhere on the Internet and quickly redirect to main business lines and direct inward dial (DID) numbers en masse. Common disaster recovery procedures for this type of approach would redirect mainline numbers to other office locations or answering services, while directing DID numbers to users’ mobile devices or alternate offices.
IP Address Forwarding — The next tier of disaster recovery capabilities takes place at the IP address level. Because VoIP and SIP trunking services are essentially specialized data packets, the capabilities inherent in IP are leveraged to reroute voice traffic around trouble spots. Businesses that require constant uptime can leverage multiple data networks, including services from multiple providers, into the same physical data center to route voice calls to their UC platforms in order to ensure continuous operations even if the primary provider experiences an outage.
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