- Marketing for cloud-based communications solutions often emphasizes cost savings and features more than business continuity and disaster recovery.
- Customers need to understand how carriers will ensure their services remain functional when a disaster strikes.
2012 is not even close to finished, but it has already been a tough year so far for the U.S. in terms of natural disasters. Violent storms in the Eastern U.S. left thousands of people without power for weeks, even taking out 911 services in some locations. Wildfires have raged in the West, and just in time for hurricane season, Isaac now threatens the Southern U.S. These events highlight the need for businesses to have a business continuity and disaster recovery plan in place to ensure that in the event of a natural disaster, they can come back up to speed as quickly as possible.
Much of the discussion about network-hosted, or cloud-based, voice communications solutions has focused on benefits such as cost savings, flexibility, the ability to customize features to an employee’s function or role, reducing the need for IT staff at a location, and all the cool collaboration features that are available. However, a benefit that cannot be overlooked is the role cloud-based communications solutions can play during a natural disaster, or any event that disrupts communications services. Traditional TDM voice customers could re-route calls to another location; but with a cloud-based IP telephony solution, individual users can access a portal via a desktop or mobile device to change calling parameters, enabling them to set up simultaneous ring or forward calls to another number, and auto-attendant features can be configured to provide emergency notification messages. UCaaS offers from major carriers include presence, IM, conferencing and other collaboration features, providing additional tools that help employees to be productive even if they cannot get to the office.
Voice quality and stability are oft-cited concerns by enterprises for cloud-based voice. It is too optimistic to claim that these issues no longer exist at all, but cloud-based voice solutions have come a long way over the last five years. Major carriers that offer cloud-based communications solutions have deployed fully resilient internal voice architectures which ensure that calls are routed appropriately, with a level of resiliency that is as good as industry practices get. Enterprises are still weighing cloud-based services. They are often opting for hybrid cloud and premises-based deployments to keep mission-critical applications and data within their control, while outsourcing less critical services. Larger providers have extensive professional services teams that will work with customers to ensure that business continuity and disaster recovery metrics are met and can make employees working remotely under emergency situations a viable option.