Setting Up Redundancy in Your Multi-Office Unified Communication Environment

By Brian Boguhn
Updated: February 04, 2011

In today’s business world, downtime of any sort means loss of revenue for most companies. A crashed server, a faulty broadband connection, a power outage…any one of these things, even if their duration is short, means money lost for a business. As a result, shrewd businesses have made sure that redundancy is built into their information systems. If a server goes down, there’s a hot standby (a live copy of the original ready to go at any time) ready to go in its place. If the broadband connection fails, a backup circuit is standing by. Generators and UPS systems will be present in case of power outages. Businesses would be wise to take similar steps when dealing with a multi-office unified communication environment. E-mail, phones, and faxes are the bloodline of many companies. Ensuring these are always functional is crucial.

Unified Communication – A Quick Overview

For those not familiar with unified communications, a quick overview is helpful. Unified communications allows an individual to check and retrieve any type of communication (e-mail, voice-mail, instant message, and fax) from any communication device at any time. Such an environment allows workers to function more efficiently in today’s “always on, always available” world.

Redundancy – How to Implement It

The reasoning for redundancy has been explained. A lack of it can result in a disruption in communication services. Since unified communications means merging all communications for your business into one infrastructure, failure to that infrastructure with no redundancy present can mean that all e-mail, voice communications, instant messaging, audio and video conferencing, faxing, and more, can go down all at once.

If your business is large enough, your multi-office unified communication environment can be made redundant in the same fashion large companies provide backup for their data systems. For many companies, this means a second data center located geographically in a different area of the country. The second data center is essentially a mirror image of the primary data center, and serves as a hot standby to the primary. If any piece of the primary data center fails, even if it fails in its entirety, the second is ready to go online with only a few seconds of downtime.

If managing a second data center isn’t in your budget, the structure of your multi-office environment provides an ideal way to implement redundancy. Your primary unified communication infrastructure can be housed in the main office. Hot backups to the pieces of the infrastructure can exist either in full at a second office, or be distributed among the additional offices. If a piece of the primary infrastructure fails, a hot standby at one of the other offices can come online with minimal downtime to make sure that your communications continue to function.

There can be many ways to implement redundancy in a unified communications environment, and this article is by no means meant to provide an exhaustive list. Further research on the topic can provide more information to the reader.

Redundancy – Don’t Overlook It

With companies being conscious of the bottom line, it can be very easy to overlook redundancy and simply put a system in place that doesn’t have any kind of a failover. If an outage were to occur, the bottom line will look worse than if redundancy had simply been implemented during the initial implementation. Don’t take that chance. Make sure you’re communications infrastructure is protected.

Featured Research
  • Business Phone System Buyer's Guide

    Communication has been a focal point in business since inception, but the industry is changing drastically in how people connect to one another and what tools and systems they use to do so. Less than 15 years ago, 90% of people relied on landline phone systems for communication. Today, less than 60% of Americans even have a landline and 40% rely solely on their mobile phone. more

  • Ditch Your Fax Servers

    An in-house fax server gives an IT department centralized management and monitoring over the entire enterprise's faxing. This can help your company track usage and better maintain records for auditing and record keeping. However, there are serious drawbacks that come with utilizing an in-house fax server solution and these range from security to cost-prohibitive pricing. more

  • The IT Manager's Survival Guide

    As an IT manager, maintaining physical fax servers and infrastructure is not a high priority. However, fax capability remains a business need simply because chances are your industry is dependent on its security. What if there was a way to reduce the amount of time spent handling fax complaints and maintaining physical servers? And this way took into account security, cost savings, and freed up your IT resources. Would you be interested? more

  • The Top 10 Reasons Companies Continue to Fax in 2017

    Even though many won't admit it in public, many industries still rely heavily on sending faxes in one way or another. And believe it or not, fax usage is, in fact, going up and not down. Don't believe us? In a recent study, 82% of respondents stated that fax usage increased over the past year while only 19% stated that their fax usage went down. more

  • Top 11 VoIP Myths Busted

    VoIP is one of the fastest growing business communication technologies, with many saying that it will grow at a rate of 10% year over year for the foreseeable future. As with any new technology, there are many myths floating about that claim to answer the questions that surround how the new service works. more