Establishing Redundancy for PBX Phone Systems

By Ryan Ayers
Updated: February 14, 2011

When your phone system experiences downtime, or worse yet suffers some sort of catastrophic failure, your business is crippled. If your vendors and customers can’t get through to you and your employees can’t communicate with one another, your company’s infrastructure is effectively disabled.

In business today, we have come to rely on the complex PBX telephone systems that run our companies. Everything from the simplest customer interaction to the most complex logistic process is dependent on having a communication system that is in working order.

So how does a company mitigate the inevitable downtime when their PBX telephone system experiences problems?

Redundancy is Key

Most businesses have some form of redundancy built in to many of their processes already, whether it is a backup for key personnel or a hard copy of critical information that is available if the normal systems fail. Your PBX system should have these same fail safes in place as well.

Redundancy is defined for a telephone system in much the same manner as for any other process or system. It simply means that there is a fallback plan, a backup that for the most part stands unused. In the event of an emergency or system failure, a redundant system is worth the foresight and expense.

There are several methods used to create redundancy in PBX systems. The two most common both involve having a “mirror” system at the ready in the event that your primary system fails.

Double Up

One method to avoid a disruption in service would be to purchase and maintain a separate PBX system that is a virtual twin of your existing system. This system would have to be physically installed and maintained, and kept in working condition in case of an emergency outage or damage to the original system.

Unfortunately, this scenario is expensive to both implement and maintain. In order for it to be effective, this system would have to have the same hardware and maintenance costs that are associated with the everyday system – effectively doubling your total cost.

Communal Systems

A more cost effective method for establishing redundancy for your PBX telephone system is to use a “shared” backup system. This system could be purchased and maintained by (or for) several different companies, and used in the event that one or more of the companies had a need.

The obvious benefit of this design is that the cost for the entire PBX system would be spread amongst several businesses rather than one company having to foot the bill for the entire system. The likelihood of overtaxing this backup system is not great, because the likelihood of all of the cooperating companies having the need to use the system simultaneously is relatively low.

Keeping Your Business on Track

Both of the above options are methods that allow for your communications system to operate with little or no downtime. Once the primary system fails, the backup can be activated and your telephone system should function as it normally would. This enables your business to continue uninterrupted, saving you from lost productivity and revenue.

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