3 business continuity questions every CIO needs to ask their IT team

Jeff Skelton, CTO, net2phone
Jeff Skelton, CTO, <a href='https://www.net2phone.com/' rel='nofollow' target='_blank' style='color:blue !important'>net2phone</a>

Jeff Skelton, CTO, net2phone

Early one July morning, one of Canada’s largest wireless providers suffered a major system failure that left 10 million people (a quarter of the population) without cellular or internet access.  This outage lasted over 24 hours and cost businesses thousands in lost sales.

This situation in Canada highlights how business continuity should remain a priority and a key concern for IT teams everywhere.  While we know the importance of disaster recovery and business continuity planning, the fact remains that many IT teams are not fully prepared to deal with network and equipment failures, weather events, cyber-attacks or even a global pandemic.

Asking these three questions can go a long way in allowing IT teams to keep businesses connected and flexible.

1. What are the company’s critical business functions?

First, determine what applications and services your organization requires in order to remain operational. The key here is to get specific about what 'remaining operational' means to your organization. For instance, when it comes to sales,  is it necessary to close the sale immediately or will a one-day outage have little impact due to a longer sales cycle?

Understanding where your business processes and functions fit into this context will allow you to prioritize and understand what "critical" means. Making this distinction will also help you budget and plan for disaster recovery accordingly. As a result, you can avoid unnecessary expenditures, such as having quadruple redundancy on a process you don’t need immediately.

Consider the following questions as a starting point:

● What are our critical business functions across the organization?

● Can we operate without certain services and functions for a day or a week? Alternatively, which ones should always be available?

● What steps do we need to take to keep critical systems, processes and services running?

● Does our technology and architecture support recovery from disruption, damage, and data loss?

2. What are our options for internet connectivity and backups?

As more businesses rely on SaaS services for operations, internet connectivity is becoming increasingly critical for business continuity.  Consider your CRM, Google infrastructure, Amazon infrastructure, email, and task managers; each of these tools rely on internet access. And it doesn't matter how big or small your business is; connectivity is essential.

 ​net2phone’s all-in-one VoIP business phone services are hosted in multiple service regions and secure Class-A data centres to provide geo-redundancy, call failover, and high availability 

The consequences of network outages can be grave, from losing customers to competitors, loss of revenue, and a negative impact on reputation. While, the cost of downtime is not always measurable, it can be significant.

Take into account your internet connectivity capabilities by asking:

● How secure is our internet connectivity?

● Are we using  SD-WAN for network management?

● Do we have two or three different connectivity providers plugged into our network to provide the necessary connectivity and bandwidth?

● Do we have an LTE backup configuration?

3. How Reliable is our Communications Provider?

When it comes to disaster recovery and business continuity, the cloud and UCaaS play a significant role.  Because, compared to on-premise systems, cloud solutions provide far greater security and redundancy.

If a business has a weather event, fire or other types of disaster where physical hardware and assets could be destroyed, there are still ways to make outbound calls. However, more importantly, your customers need to be able to reach you at the phone number you’ve published.

With unified communications, employees can answer incoming business calls wherever they may be. They can open up their laptops or use a softphone application and continue to use their cloud-hosted PBX service to serve clients. A reliable hosted solution has redundancies in place to protect against power or network outages, ensuring that you will always be able to receive calls.

From the business continuity perspective, ask these security questions when evaluating a UCaaS provider:

● Is the provider's infrastructure housed in secure data centers?

● How does the provider ensure Quality of Service?

● To minimize downtime, what precautions does the UCaaS provider take?

● Is all UC data, including voice, video, and messages, encrypted and able to protect confidential information?

For instance, net2phone’s all-in-one VoIP business phone services are hosted in multiple service regions and secure Class-A data centers to provide geo-redundancy, call failover, and high availability. This means no lost data, no lost conversations, no lost contacts and no loss in business functionality. The company take several steps to ensure quality service, some of which include a 24/7 Network Operations Center (NOC), which supports customers with extensive monitoring of services. The service is also deployed across many geographical locations, with customer accounts distributed based on location. In some cases, the package includes network demarcation equipment that provides quality monitoring right up to the office. The data created and generated in the course of using our UCaaS service for voice and messaging is encrypted. Through these measures and more, net2phone has been providing the most efficient and reliable quality voice and communication experience for over 30 years.

Final Thoughts

Despite the fact that business disruptions are common and inevitable, it is possible to remain resilient and flexible. Your IT team should have a clear understanding of critical business functions and make sure they are well supported by your infrastructure. Ensure you have backups for your internet connectivity and leverage UCaaS so that you can continue to fulfill your obligations to your customers, no matter what happens.