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.

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