Network Infrastructure

The Cloud, Mobile, New Database Technology & VoIP Offer Business Added Reliability

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  October 15, 2012

This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.

Whether you’re talking about a database or a voice system, keeping such critical systems up and running at your business is obviously of key importance. The good news is that new models and technologies on both the database and voice fronts are enabling organizations to better ensure that their information and employees are accessible even in the event of environmental, technical or other issues.

For example, TransLattice recently introduced a database solution that combines the scalability of the cloud, and the accessibility, performance of reliability of distributed computing.

Backup data centers can give organizations a false sense of security, according to TransLattice, which says that failover doesn’t always work and recovery can be lengthy approach. A better approach, according to the company, is to do geographical distribution of data – including relational data.

“Global organizations can’t afford downtime, period,” said Frank Huerta, CEO for the two-year-old TransLattice. “We have designed the TransLattice Elastic Database to provide reliable, high-performance and low-cost distributed computing to global enterprises. With TED, organizations can provide fast, cost-effective data availability to its users anywhere in the world, doing away with the need to federate data, while still complying with data location regulations.”

Oracle (News - Alert) and other databases today need to be within a few hundred feet of each other so they can share data very quickly, he says, adding that when they are placed too far apart latency becomes a problem. But the TransLattice solution doesn’t care how far apart nodes are; the system will maintain thousands of transactions at the right time, in the right order.

TransLattice can allow users to add resources locally as required. These nodes are all autonomous and can be placed anywhere in the world, and they can share information between one another to provide network administrators with a global view of what’s going on. The solution also comes with good data policy controls. Huerta says it has “an intimate sense of where data is.” For example, if there’s certain data that can’t leave Germany or data needs to be duplicated at least twice in Asia, the system can set and police those policies. And if a node goes down, the TransLattice solution prompts the network to re-establish operations and apply policies and users to that local node again.

John L. Myers, senior analyst for business intelligence at Enterprise Management Associates, says that geographically distributed and scalable databases are becoming important to modern organizations.

“Geographically isolated and incrementally expanded databases limit the development of business-critical applications by placing constraints on developers and administrators,” said Myers. “Instead of focusing on the business problem at hand, companies instead focus on managing the limitations of a platform. Also, as Internet-based applications continue to gain prominence, poor end-user response time and customer experience can make the difference between success and failure, as can an economic investment in traditional database infrastructure that does not scale appropriately.”

The next-generation database architecture being moved forward by TransLattice is much more flexible, says Huerta, who opines that this technology is going to be as big as virtualization. He predicts that in the next five years, 30 to 50 percent of organizations will have embraced this distributed database model.

“I think this is a major shift we’re talking about,” he added.

Another major shift in recent years, and advancement on the business continuity/disaster recovery front, has been the introduction of IP telephony solutions.

As noted by Dieter Rencken, manager of IP telephony products at ShoreTel (News - Alert), the Internet is robust, self healing, and can work around points of failure. ShoreTel and its customers can leverage a lot of those benefits in their IP-based voice solutions.

Customers tend to look at their deployments in one of two ways, according to Rencken. ShoreTel supports both of them.

One is to take an approach that’s highly distributed, in which every branch location has its own little piece of infrastructure. In this scenario, site resilience is important. If headquarters goes out, the branches should be autonomous and, thus, maintain phone operations.

The second model centralizes infrastructure in a data center or private cloud. In this case, organizations will want to implement failover between data centers, says Rencken. There’s a lot of technology that addresses that; VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager is one such example. ShoreTel has gone through VMware’s certification program and has more than 2,200 customers running ShoreTel in VMware environments.

ShoreTel’s UC solutions, system management, voicemail, and other services “can run as a virtual machine quite happily in the VMware environment, said Rencken.

Other ways ShoreTel addresses business continuity and disaster recovery involve the reliability of its appliances that deliver dialtone, he says, which can be deployed in N+1 environments. In this model, users can have just one extra voice appliance with ShoreTel vs. duplicating all the network elements, as some competitors require, he says.

SIP trunking is yet another way to add reliability and resiliency to a phone solution, he added. If SIP trunk goes down, it’s fast and easy to just set up another SIP trunk with another service provider.

Another company that has been emphasizing the importance of business continuity in phone systems is iCore. As discussed in a past issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY, iCore has outfitted Vie de France with a voice over private Internet backbone; a comprehensive disaster recovery/preparedness plan, including the technology and procedures that would allow Vie de France to relocate completely to a disaster recovery center with voice and phone access if needed; and IP telephones from Cisco (News - Alert) Systems.

The solution has the ability for the phones to be reprogrammed remotely, the ability for employees to save all voicemails based on project, voicemail-to-e-mail capability, smart routing of credit card transactions, the availability of a single company-wide directory, find me/follow me functionality, a streamlined 800 number setup, and faster response times to customer calls. Prior to implementation of this relatively new system, all credit card transactions had to be routed through corporate headquarters. Now credit card transactions go through the cloud, which has become the hub that intelligently passes information to the right locations. The cloud also enables standardization and ease of support for all retail sites from a central location.

Voice over IP, just by virtue of being an IP solution, is resilient because customers can back up their primary connections with a connection based on DSL or a cable modem, notes CEO Clark Peterson of Telesphere (News - Alert), a pure-play cloud services provider that uses the BroadSoft platform. Telesphere CTO Sanjay Srinivasan adds that when businesses go into backup mode, the set of services available to employees might not be exactly the same as the ones they have access to when the office is up and running.

But if the difference in functionality is too large, that becomes a problem, as it can affect business operations.

However, Srinivasan explains, if all the service intelligence is in the cloud and the IP network intelligence is on premises, all the functionality remains consistent even when a business is using one of its back-up connections.

Another way businesses can allow for more flexibility and back up in their communications is by expanding their endpoints to include mobile devices, says Peterson. That way, customers have even more routes for connectivity. To enable that, Telesphere introduced Telesphere MobileConnect, which untethers employees while still providing them with broad, cloud-based unified communications, speed dial, call recording and other functionality.

Srinivasan adds that there’s also a move in the industry to make mobile phones even smarter, in this case in terms of connectivity. Some endpoint manufacturers are beginning to use DNS as a tool to allow for seamless failover. Basically, in this scenario, intelligence would be embedded into the phone so if it’s regular connection option is not available, it could automatically try a secondary connection, possibly a Wi-Fi connection in the area.

Srinivasan says this isn’t a new idea, but rather implementations of existing DNS work out of the Internet Engineering Task Force.

Edited by Braden Becker