What is Business Continuity?

Business Continuity / Business Continuance

Business Continuity can be generally defined as an organization’s ability to continue operations if it is compromised due to various adversities including: natural disasters (floods, fire, wind, earth), manmade incidents (power outages, supply chain / vendor failure, war) and infrastructure failure (machinery, computing, network resources).

Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery

So, what is the difference between business continuity and disaster recovery? On the surface, they look and sound pretty similar, right? Think of them this way, for IT pros disaster recovery is a subset of a larger business continuity plan. A test question for BC would be: If an earthquake occurred how would the company get all of its operations running again. The question for DR would be: If an earthquake occurred how would they get IT services running again to support the rest of the operations?

Evolve IP hosted a great Webinar on the differences between business continuity, disaster recovery and data back-up that can be viewed here:

Evolve IP and Critical Components That Enable Continuity

In the unfortunate event of a continuity issue, Evolve IP’s hosted services are uniquely capable to help organizations get up and running again, quickly. We do this by ensuring that your communications and computing are available regardless of onsite conditions, that you can recover key data and services in just minutes, and that your network has multiple points of entry to our cloud.

Evolve IP services that enable business continuity include: Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Desktops as a Service (DaaS), Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) / IP phone systems, hosted call centers, and our Cloud Connect network bonding product a highly reliable software defined networking or SDN service.

DRaaS & IaaS

Most businesses have a simple DR plan that involves sending backups to an offsite facility or using an online service to backup data. While this plan helps ensure the business will not lose its data assets, it does not detail exactly how data and applications will be recovered, how quickly they can be recovered, or how they will be used in the event that the server or infrastructure on which it was originally located is lost or destroyed. It also doesn’t account for how users will continue to communicate with the server or applications, each other, customers, and vendors if a location is unreachable.

By cloud sourcing your critical systems to Evolve IP, your business will access and utilize the resources, servers and software in our world class technology centers, virtually eliminating any concern that a disaster, or even a simple outage, will affect services at your site. We refer to this strategy as Disaster Avoidance – as services which would have otherwise been unavailable for a period of time continue to operate without disruption.

By moving your applications and infrastructure to Evolve IP’s private cloud, you can ensure that your applications are available from any location regardless of what’s happening at your office. Even if you cannot move your production IT operations to the cloud, Evolve IP’s Disaster-Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) products can support your operations when business interruptions occur.

Special Resource:

Evolve IP designed this template to help you capture and organize the critical information that will ensure that your organization’s IT operations are in a position to survive if a disaster transpires.

Download Disaster Recovery Plan Template

DaaS

Should an incident render your corporate office, or remote location(s), inoperable and unavailable, having your associates leveraging virtual desktops can quickly get the organization moving again. Using any available network connection (e.g. home, Starbucks, the airport), and essentially any network enabled device, employees can access all of the applications and files needed to start managing the continuity crisis as well as to begin working productively.

DaaS is flexible, secure, manageable, inexpensive and high-performing, making it ideal for the majority of your associates – especially executives and employees that are managing, selling and servicing your products and services.

Special Resource:

This paper exposes—and debunks—the top DaaS myths, which range from high costs, to security issues, to licensing and integration limitations. “Mythbusting DaaS” will also explain how, by consuming virtual desktops as a cloud-hosted service, businesses can deliver high-performing desktops to users on any device in minutes, easing IT management burdens and reducing the total cost of desktop ownership.

DaaS Mythbusters

IP Phone Systems

Hosted IP Phone Systems

While many businesses have some form of DR plan for their data operations, most do have not have any plan for the continued operation of their voice services in the event of a disaster. Since most phone systems reside at the customer location, an on‐site disaster or simple outage effectively disconnects that location from the rest of the world. Customers and vendors calling that location are met unceremoniously with a “fast busy” signal.

Customers in the cloud however can continue with business ‘almost’ as usual as their IP phone system answers inbound calls, forwards to voicemail, or automatically reroutes calls to cell phones. If a location is unavailable for a period of time, employees can simply take their phone home or use a soft client to remain productive and available at their extension without your customers knowing they’re “homesourcing.”

If your business is down for a few days here are a few key steps to take.

First, it is important to set the time schedule and/or holiday schedule that may need to be applied to Auto-Attendants or Hunt Groups.

  • Always print a screen prior to making a change
  • Keep a library of your greeting recordings with a naming convention that easily identifies the content intent of the recording
  • If closing for the entire day, add the date to your holiday schedule so your callers receive a closed message. This limits the changes to messages and time schedules
  • Remember to return your schedule and/or messaging to the original on the next normal business day

Special Resource:

The Best Practices Guide above is designed to provide features and functionality as available to those leveraging Evolve IP’s cloud-based IP phone system.

Hosted Phone System Best Practices for Business Continuity

Hosted Call Centers

Another critical element to successfully managing a business continuity issue is call center enablement.  Special consideration should be given to where queued calls will be sent, including alternative locations, queues, or agents.  Some of the events that require a defined BC process include:

  • Power failures
  • Inclement weather (Snowstorms, Hurricanes, Flooding)
  • Carrier Access (last mile) outages
  • Other network interruptions (ISP, Carriers, equipment failures, etc)

Evolve IP’s Award-Winning Hosted / Cloud Call Center provides numerous business continuity features.

Queue Features

Feature Call Center Type Definition
Stranded Standard, Premium Allows configuration for ACD calls that are in a call center queue or presented to a queue when it is unstaffed (no agents are signed in)
Stranded – Unavailable Standard, Premium Allows configuration of specific routing behavior for calls stranded in a staffed queue when all agents are unavailable
Forced Forwarding Standard, Premium Allows ACD calls to be temporarily diverted to a configured destination.  The policy can be configured to play an announcement prior to proceeding with the forward.
Manual Night Service Premium Allows the Supervisor or Administrator to override the Time Schedule of the queue and manually initiate the queue’s Night Service, prompting new calls intended for the call center queue to be handled via routing pre-configured in Night Service. A specific announcement can be configured for the Manual Night Service override.

Agent Features

Feature User Type Definition
Anywhere Premium (HPBX) Allows Premium PBX users to define one or more phone numbers or network locations (soft clients or other applications) that can be used as extensions to your profile. Calls are delivered to all phone numbers or locations that are enabled in the user’s Anywhere profile.
Remote Office Premium (HPBX) Allows use of a home phone, cell phone or any other 10-digit phone number as your business phone. This feature redirects all calls coming to your business phone to the remote office phone.

Special Resource:

Evolve IP’s Call Center Continuity – Best Practices Guide provides customers with definitions and use cases for Call Center Continuity.   This guide is not meant to serve as a default process document, but instead as an informational overview of how cloud call center features perform and common use cases where they are important.

Hosted Phone System Best Practices for Business Continuity

Cloud Connect / Network

One of the most common continuity issues is network connectivity failure.

Using software defined networking (SDN) Evolve IP’s Cloud Connect eliminates many continuity concerns by combining the bandwidth of multiple public connections (from nearly any carrier) into a single, faster, more reliable virtual connection that can be used to securely access the Internet and replace expensive WAN connections.

What is Software Defined Networking (SDN)?

Simply put, software defined networking is the process by which network administrators decouple automatic network controls and forwarding functions and instead, enable an application to dynamically adjust traffic flows based on needs like bandwidth and network connectivity.

Watch an informative video about Evolve IP’s Cloud Connect service:

Why Evolve IP’s Cloud Connect?

  • Increases reliability with automatic failover at the packet versus session level
  • Dramatically increases your bandwidth – up to 400%
  • Provides bi-directional QoS over public networks
  • Provides a cost effective alternative to MPLS networks (customers report decreases as much as 52% while improving reliability and speed)