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The Most Overlooked Component of Business Continuity

The Most Overlooked Component of Business Continuity
July 31, 2018 / Peter Eisengrein

Business leaders meticulously plan for future growth and expansion but are often caught off-guard by disasters. Local storms, fires, power, and network outages continuously wreak havoc on organizations, meanwhile, large-scale disasters seem to be increasing in intensity and quantity. 2017 was a perfect example of the top three costliest weather-related disasters to hit the U.S. and its territories, at $125 billion, $50 billion, and $90 billion, respectively.

Unfortunately, survey data shows that business leaders tend to believe they’re better prepared than they actually are, as they typically don’t have a granular view of their technical capabilities to resume business after an incident. This misunderstanding can greatly harm a business’s ability to resume operations quickly. In fact, 25 percent of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster according to The Institute for Business and Home Safety.

While IT leaders are generally prepared with solutions to get servers and data centers up-and-running quickly, business continuity for communications capabilities is often overlooked. That oversight can cause significant financial damage as customers that are unable to contact a business is likely to look or purchase elsewhere. Additionally, the reputational damage caused by the inability to communicate with a business can sometimes play a heavier role in the organization’s failure than any other factor. Further, lost communication services also disrupt the ability of staff members to collaborate and for partners to meet supply chain deliverables.

Preparing for the Worst: Developing a Business Continuity Plan for Communications Systems

For all organizations, the first step in business continuity planning for communications systems is to better understand your financial exposure. Calculate the cost of downtime for your organization from every perspective. While every business is different, Gartner estimates that for some businesses downtime can cost $5,600 per minute and as much as $540,000 per hour in more extreme scenarios.

 

Business Continuity for On-Premises Communications Systems

For businesses with phone systems that reside on-premises, a local disaster can effectively disconnect that site from the rest of the world. Therefore, it is critical that a business decides which functions to restore first. Consider key business operations – from customer-facing units to human resources – and understand how IT and telecommunications systems are needed to support each function. It can be helpful to visually map continuity priorities, lines of jurisdiction, areas of primary business concern, and the order in which systems will be restored in the event of a disruption.

Additionally, ensure the following are completed:

  • Prepare a checklist of key telephony vendors to manually re-route calls to enable alternative ring-to locations and numbers (if possible) and designate emergency personnel to take and triage inbound calls.
  • Create a written recovery plan that is stored remotely. Make sure you have written methods of procedure to support the plan so that someone unfamiliar with the tasks can step in to handle it in the time of need. Make sure this information is available remotely and does not exist solely at the location, in case it is unreachable.
  • Build a list of key employee contacts for each department that includes mobile and home numbers along with alternate email addresses.
  • Identify vulnerabilities in your physical facilities, IT infrastructure and communication systems. This might include single points of failure in systems for:

    • Internal networking & connectivity
    • Service providers
    • Power
    • Hardware/systems, service providers, etc.
    • Consider what would happen if any one of these things failed!

  • Manage and test physical safety systems for fire, smoke, and flooding. Maintain your fire suppression systems and have them inspected on schedule.
  • Plan and build extensive cooling and ventilation systems. All the system redundancy in the world doesn’t matter if the equipment overheats; have these systems regularly maintained.
  • Purchase uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) and generators. Make sure mission-critical systems are supplied by your backup power. Perform periodic power outages – you don’t want to find out in an emergency that the system doesn’t actually power your phone system, or that the POE switches that power the phones are not on backup power.

    • Also, make sure your UPS and generators are sized correctly. If not, systems may not stay up as long as you thought. Or worse, you overload the backup and cause it to fail.

  • Make sure you have sufficient fuel for the generator. In a real disaster scenario, it may be days before you can fill up. And if you don’t have a generator, identify and contract ahead of time with a company who can bring in a portable generator on a truck, and have a certified electrician pre-install the necessary cabling for a portable generator.
  • Schedule nightly backups of all mission-critical systems, and weekly backups of the rest. Make sure the backups are not stored on-site with that equipment. Regularly audit that the backups are actually happening and periodically test restoring from backup, at least annually.

How Disaster Recovery for Cloud Communications Is Different:

Regardless of conditions on-site, cloud-based unified communications (UC) systems answer inbound calls, forward callers to voicemail, or automatically reroute calls to a cell phone. Even when a business location is unavailable for an extended period of time, staff members can seamlessly continue business operations via a soft client to remain productive without customers knowing they’re “homesourcing.”

Because of these inherent capabilities, for an increasing number of businesses, cloud-based voice, video, and instant messaging services have become the go-to method for ensuring communications business continuity. In fact, our recent survey noted that 30% of North American businesses would be evaluating a cloud communications system.

As you might expect, because of the lack of onsite equipment business continuity planning is significantly streamlined in a unified communications environment. On-premises equipment requirements are usually handled by the service provider, often with significantly greater security and backup measures put into place. For example, at Evolve IP our cloud communications platform is:

  • Deployed across multiple SOC 2 geographic data centers (located in the world’s most secure locations like SWITCH, Las Vegas).
  • Within each location Evolve IP ensures system and application-level redundancy.
  • In the highly unlikely event that an entire data center were to go down, services transfer instantaneously to a mirrored site hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Cloud service providers generally also leverage a highly diversified network connectivity architecture to ensure uptime. At Evolve IP we actively monitor and route voice traffic with 12 of the world’s top providers (like Verizon and CenturyLink) across over 120 global routes. In addition, we have differentiated data connectivity capabilities via 20 different internet service and private connectivity providers.

As with on-premises, you should also employ multiple Internet providers in your location and test for failover regularly. Or, better yet, deploy an SD-WAN service like Evolve IP’s Cloud Connect so that your network stays up, even if one, or even more, providers do not.

So, essentially, in a cloud communications scenario businesses need only to:

  • Identify which communications channels (email, toll-free lines, contact centers, VPNs, Terminal Services) are most vital.
  • Determine who needs secure access to these systems.
  • Deploy internal communications.
  • Engage disaster playbook procedures e.g. pre-defined routing/forwarding rules, messages/alerts, remote work policies.
  • Continue business as usual until the site becomes operational.

Other Benefits of Cloud Communications

1. Cloud-based unified communications systems also help businesses more easily scale, grow and expand. In a UC environment, adding new locations, extensions, departments, and resources is simple, and each site is easily managed in the event of a disaster.

2. UC systems also present a number of financial advantages. The cloud-based subscription model is a predictable operational expense, whereas maintaining an on-site PBX is a significant capital expense with ongoing (and often prohibitive and unpredictable) maintenance costs.

More than ever before, businesses are exposed to a wider array of potential business disruptions. Whether a disaster is caused by natural causes, a cyber attack, employee-sabotage or any number of other issues, business continuity planning is the key survival. Regardless of cloud or on-premises architecture, your business should allocate the time and resources to update your recovery and continuity plans to include your communications systems today.

Disaster Recovery Planning?

Hardware fails, hackers attack, and disasters happen. Use this template to create your DR plan to prepare your organization from common IT-based business disruptions.

Categories: Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery
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Compliance is a way to do business … not an afterthought when clients need it.

At Evolve IP we have a dedicated compliance and security practice and work with two of the world’s top 3rd-party compliance auditors, Grant Thornton and Ernst & Young, to enable customers to extend their compliance to our fully audited cloud. This focus allows us to deliver the documentation and assurances that other’s simply cannot including HIPAA / HITRUST, PCI-DSS (all 12 sections), SOC 2/3 and more. The Compliance CloudTM includes true client isolation, encryption in transit and at rest, private VLANs, firewalls and dozens of other security measures.

 
 
What Our Clients Say
  • “High-level technology, better compliance, cybersecurity, and communication capabilities are expected of all providers of financial services, regardless of size. With the rate of change and costs involved, it is difficult for any size credit union to keep pace. So when we were looking for a cloud technology partner, we emphasized the need to provide to our members with technology solutions that help them compete with larger banks and financial institutions, at a cost they can afford. Evolve IP offers all that, plus broad financial services industry experience and a pedigree of providing first-rate service to support growth and continually enhance the entire member experience.”

    David Frankil, Chairman of the NJCUL Services Corporation and President/CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League

  • "The people that Evolve IP are more personable; you don't feel like there's necessarily a script when you're talking with them, they’re easy to understand, quick to get a hold of, and they follow through on what they say they're going to do."

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  • "I was a bit of skeptical because I've been told that by sales guys before...but you've all came through on every one of their promises and not only that, but even throughout our subsequent years of working with us as partners, you’ve stepped up to the plate whenever we needed something and provided a helping hand"

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What the Experts Think

Our analyst-acclaimed solutions are built on a world-class, compliant architecture that leverages the blue-chip technologies organizations already know and trust.

Gartner

We deploy best-of-breed solutions including: Disaster Recovery, Contact Center, Unified Communications, DaaS, IaaS. Our services are analyst-acclaimed, vendor-validated, client recommended and award-winning.

HITRUST

Evolve IP is proud to have achieved the honor of being HITRUST CSF certified! Certification to the HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) affirms that all of Evolve IP’s cloud computing and cloud communications services adhere to the strictest security standards for electronic protected health information (PHI). The HITRUST security standard was developed by and for the healthcare industry as a means of going above and beyond the compliance requirements of HIPAA.

The HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) was developed to address the multitude of security, privacy and regulatory challenges facing healthcare organizations. The HITRUST CSF was developed by healthcare and IT professionals to provide an efficient and prescriptive framework for managing the security requirements inherent in HIPAA. HITRUST CSF rationalizes healthcare-relevant regulations and standards into a single overarching security framework. An important part of the “What is HITRUST” answer is understanding that the CSF is risk-based and compliance-based so that organizations can tailor the security control baselines and vendor management programs that they follow based on their specific organization type, size, systems, and regulatory requirements.

HIPPA

The Privacy regulations of the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) require health care providers, organizations, and their business associates, develop and follow procedures that ensure the confidentiality and security of protected health information (PHI) when it is transferred, received, handled, or shared. This applies to all forms of PHI — paper, oral, and electronic, etc. Those who fail to adhere to HIPAA can suffer from huge fines climbing into the millions of dollars for major violations.

The Compliance Cloud™ fully enables covered entities and their business associates subject to HIPAA regulations to leverage a secure environment to process, maintain, and store protected health Information (PHI) featuring among other controls.

SSAW 16 Service Organization Control II (SOC 2)

Evolve IP has received an SSAE 16 SOC 2 Type II report on our internal controls relating to how we assess and address the potential risks associated with the security, availability, and confidentiality of not only the cloud-based services that we provide, but also our physical and logical infrastructure. Evolve IP utilizes the Certified Public Accounting firm of Grant Thornton to perform its annual audit and attestation in accordance with the Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 16 and the associated Trust Services Principles, as published by the AICPA, to evaluate the effectiveness of Evolve IP’s service organizations controls.

Forbes

While Forbes regularly features coverage and recognition about Evolve IP, they've most recently recognized Evolve IP as being the "Best Cloud Computing Companies And CEOs To Work For In 2017".  They've ranked Evolve IP in the Top 3 just behind Google and Microsoft in the Cloud Infrastructure classification.  (Feb 2017). Forbes  also recently recognizes Evolve IP for bringing Singer Equipment Corporation, a mainstream business based in PA, into the cloud by means of unified communication. (Sept  2017). Last year, Forbes recognized Evolve IP's survey of 1,080 executives citing that the number one reason to go to the cloud is the same reason that it is avoided. (Mar 2016).

Unified Communications Product of the Year

TMC and Internet Telephony Magazine have named Evolve IP’s unified communications platform as a 2017 Unified Communications Product of the Year Award winner. This marks the 6th time Evolve IP has been honored with this prestigious award and follows a series of product innovations that have allowed the company to rapidly expand its international coverage.

Evolve IP’s business collaboration tools and IP phone system dramatically improve employee productivity in the office and on the road with a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) platform that fully integrates voice, video, instant messaging & presence (IM&P), desktop sharing, audio/web conferencing and more. The company also provides a sophisticated Web-based management portal, OSSmosis®, that allows administrators to easily configure system functions and quickly modify users without the need to reach out to a third party for changes.

Inc.

Inc. magazine has recognized Evolve IP in the 34th annual Inc. 500|5000, an exclusive listing of the nation's fastest-growing private companies. The list will be unveiled in the September issue of Inc.

The story of this year's Inc. 5000 is the story of great leadership. In an incredibly competitive business landscape, it takes something extraordinary to take your company to the top," says Inc. President and Editor-In-Chief Eric Schurenberg. "You have to remember that the average company on the Inc. 5000 grew nearly six-fold since 2012. Business owners don't achieve that kind of success by accident.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

Evolve IP has achieved Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) compliance covering all 12 sections of the PCI DSS. The PCI data security standard is a comprehensive set of standards that require merchants and service providers that store, process, or transmit customer payment card data to adhere to strict information security controls and processes. It was created by the founding brands of the PCI Security Standards Council, which includes American Express, Discover Financial, JCB International, MasterCard Worldwide, and Visa Inc.

CSA STAR

Evolve IP is also a registered and participating member of the CSA Security, Trust & Assurance Registry (STAR). The CSA was formed to encourage transparency of security practices within cloud providers. It is a free, publicly accessible registry that documents the security controls provided by various cloud computing offerings, thereby helping users assess the security of cloud providers they currently use or are considering contracting with. CSA STAR is open to all cloud providers, and allows them to submit assessment reports that document compliance to CSA published best practices. The searchable registry will allow potential cloud customers to review the security practices of providers, accelerating their due diligence and leading to higher quality procurement experiences. CSA STAR represents a major leap forward in industry transparency, encouraging providers to make security capabilities a market differentiator.

Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500TM

Evolve IP has been ranked for the second consecutive year on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and energy tech companies in North America – both public and private. Technology Fast 500 award winners are selected based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth from 2012 to 2015. The list is a veritable Who’s Who of technology that has included tech companies like Google, VMware and Facebook.

Technology Fast 500 provides a ranking of the fastest growing technology, life sciences, and energy the companies – both public and private – in North America. Technology Fast 500 award winners are selected based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth during the period from 2012 – 2016.

Red Herring

Red Herring has named Evolve IP as one of the Top 100 Companies in North America.  Red Herring’s Top 100 recognizes the leading and most promising private companies from around the world. Among the over 20 criteria used to analyze companies for the award, Evolve IP was noted for its financial performance, technological innovation, customer footprint, the DNA of its founders and addressable market.

Red Herring selects the award winners for North America from approximately 1,200 privately financed companies each year in the US and Canada. Since 1996, Red Herring has kept tabs on these organizations and its editors were among the first to recognize that companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Skype, Salesforce.com, YouTube, Palo Alto Networks and eBay would change the way we live and work.

Entrepreneur

Evolve IP has been recognized as one of the “Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America” in Entrepreneur magazine’s Entrepreneur360™ Performance Index, a study involving a comprehensive analysis of private companies in America. Based on this study forged by Entrepreneur, Evolve IP is recognized as a company that exemplifies growth, not just in top and bottom line, but in sustainability and the ability to achieve lasting success.

According to Entrepreneur, after evaluating approximately 10,000 U.S. based firms, the team of editors and researchers behind the E360 Performance Index collected more than 250 pieces of data from the finalists, focusing on growth drivers and challenges, goal setting, resource allocations, and reward systems. The analysis uncovered a class of leading companies, including Evolve IP, whose continued success is largely based on superior value creation for their customers, building an adaptive learning culture, and aggressive geographic expansion—placing them amongst the most dynamic firms in America today.

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