Why a SIP Trunk is key to any Disaster Recovery Plan

BLOG: A recent benchmark study by the Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) Council revealed that 73% of companies had no disaster recovery plan in place for their telecoms infrastructure. Are you one of them?

How much damage would your business suffer if the phone lines went down for a week or your staff were prevented from coming into the office to work?

Unpredictable Natural Events and Disaster Avoidance

Disasters often happen without warning and they can have a catastrophic effect on an unprepared business. You might not think that your company or contact centre is at risk but disaster can strike any business at any time. In 2014 floods in the UK affected thousands of homes and businesses, crippling transportation links and disrupting power supplies. It took weeks to restore some essential services.

Could your company afford to be out of business for that long?

In November 2013, it took a super typhoon and a deadly storm surge to convince the Philippines to invest in alternative communication networks. But it’s not just natural disasters that can bring down a telephony system. An office fire, local power outage, user error, even vandalism can cause havoc and bring a thriving business grinding to a halt.

Of course, having dedicated disaster recovery teams and recovery processes will help a business get back on its feet after a disaster strikes. But smart companies are increasingly looking at methods of disaster avoidance too, turning to proven technologies that enable them to continue delivering key services to their customers with little to no downtime at all.

This continuity is vital for any organisation whose core business relies on the use of call centres that in turn rely on the stability of their telephone systems. It’s why trust in traditional public telephone networks is fading and forward-thinking companies are investing in SIP Trunking and Hosted Telephony solutions that are far better placed to cope with extreme natural events and other disasters.

SIP Trunking

SIP Trunking is the fastest growing telephony service evolving today and enable businesses to reap the benefits of combining voice and data into one reliable IP connection. A Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Trunk is a connection that links a business, via its PBX, directly to the Public Telephone Network (PSTN) using an IP connection. Many businesses are now turning to SIP to help them cut costs, streamline their telephony infrastructure, ensure flexibility and put in place business continuity plans.

That’s not all that SIP technology offers a modern business. SIP Trunks are scalable to allow them to cope with a rapid increase in call volumes (you can instantaneously add extra SIP trunks to increase call capacity), can often deliver superior call quality compared to ISDN lines and provide support for unified communications across a variety of different devices. Crucially, SIP can also save businesses money.

Make the switch from a PSTN system to a SIP Trunk and there no more ISDN rental costs to pay plus there is the potential for lower call rates and, in some cases, free calls to UK landlines and mobiles. No wonder then that there are now over 1.2 million SIP Trunks active in the UK. Recent Gamma research has shown that 35% of UK companies questioned believe that SIP is the most important telephony system available.

SIP Trunking and Disaster Recovery

One of SIP Trunking’s key strengths compared to older telephony systems is how well it is suited to disaster recovery.

“Because they’re IP-based, SIP trunks are far more flexible than traditional ‘fixed’ circuits,” explains PC World’s Paul Desmond. “Users can program SIP lines such that if a given user is out of the office, or an entire office is out of commission, the lines roll over to backup sites, phones or devices located anywhere on the company’s network – or at a backup facility. It’s all based on the business rules you set up ahead of time.”

SIP Trunks are proving popular as a complement to existing ISDN lines, enabling companies to choose whether they use an IP connection as their primary communications option and ISDN as a backup, or vice versa. Hosted Telephony solutions, meanwhile, can dramatically reduce hardware spend and can back up important contact data to the cloud.

The added benefits of using SIP to enhance resilience are that, on the occasion of any event, calls can be forwarded on to other destinations almost instantly, with no forwarding costs associated and no waiting for a middle man to deal with the enquiry, which can take up to 48 hours with some ISDN services. With both forms of telephony (SIP or Hosted), numbers can also be diverted individually, which is extremely important for a call centre where lots of different numbers are in operation.

In short, investing in a SIP Trunk can keep a business running with minimal disruption and it can play a key role in any Disaster Recovery Plan. At the very least, the technology can provide a backup communications option should a primary telephony system fail. At best, it can transform a business, supporting growth, reducing spend and boosting productivity.

For more information about Moving from ISDN to SIP, you can download Solution IP’s whitepaper here.

About the Author: Patrick Lincoln is founder of Unified Communications Company Solution IP, which he set up in 2006. An authority in the industry, Patrick spent many of his formative years building relationships within the telecoms community in the South West of England. You can connect with Solution IP on Twitter or Facebook.