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June 11, 2014
Disaster Recovery Plans for Telephone Systems
By Michael Guta, TMCnet Contributing Writer

In the past, the business phone was a very critical component of the organization because often times it was the only source of outside communication. With the advent of mobile phones and the Internet, businesses now have an alternative solution when emergencies take out main lines of communication. However, these solutions are only temporary, and businesses have to implement a disaster recovery (DR) plan that takes into consideration a better alternative for the telephone system.

An article written by Paul Kirvan on asks what should be included in the disaster recovery planning process for a telephone system, and the answer of course depends on many different factors because each organizations has different technologies in place. What is clear, as Kirvan sates in the article, is the telephone must be included as part of the DR plan.

First let us address new technologies because the solutions are readily available. With VoIP systems, hosted or cloud-based solutions, businesses can recover from a disaster almost instantly as long as there is a broadband Internet connection. Without a single point of failure and a distributed business phone system, an IP-based solution can be run on standard server hardware from anywhere on the IP network.

If on the other hand the phone system is old with on premise infrastructure, the DR plan must include the acquisition of parts from the system vendor or a third-party switch maintenance firm. It is also very important to note as Kirvan pointed out, the system may not be supported by the original manufacturer and the parts may be obsolete, making the DR plan that much more difficult. It is therefore essential for the individual in charge of the DR plan to have the necessary spare parts beforehand or keep a list of suppliers who keep the parts the organization needs in stock.

Keeping sources of the parts and supplies that operate with the system ensures the right parts will be acquired when it is needed. This should include relevant documentation on soft and hard copy with accurate description of operations and features on how to perform essential tasks in order to reboot, activate or cancel the system.

The telephone DR plan should also include: information about the services that connects into the phone system for calls and special network access; switching equipment and related products along with availability and sources of spare parts; and primary and backup power systems requirements. These are very important features for older telephone system, and because of the difficulty in acquiring the parts as well as the technicians to fix them, periodic DR test should be part of the plan.

Carrying out tests ensures the system is able to reboot properly because often times systems have to be turned off when an emergency can be anticipated, such as hurricanes, tornadoes or other events.

While not everyone is able to invest in a new system, IP communications provides organizations many solutions including the ability to make a quick and less costly recovery in the event of a disaster, which ensures continued operation and revenue.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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