In this episode of PodMD, Rob Horn from 1Cloud Voice & Data will be discussing the topic of redundancy options for phone and internet services, including what is redundancy, why it is necessary, different types of redundancy options, what happens during an outage and more.
This podcast is brought to you by 1Cloud Voice & Data. 1Cloud Voice & Data is a retail Telecommunications Service Provider specialising in the supply, management, billing and support of business telecommunications services to business clients across Australia. 1Cloud seeks to provide customised solutions that meets with their business customers initial telecommunication needs, whilst also taking into consideration their potential future growth and operational changes.
You can get in touch with 1Cloud Voice & Data via their website.
Please note this is a machine generated transcription and may contain some errors.
*As always, all in this PODMD podcast is intended for health professionals and the comments are of a general nature. Information given is not intended as specific medical advice pertaining to any given patient. If you have a clinical issue with one of your patients please seek appropriate advice from a colleague with expertise in the area.
Today I’d like to welcome to the PodMD studio Rob Horn from 1Cloud Voice & Data.
1Cloud Voice & Data is a retail Telecommunications Service Provider specialising in the supply, management, billing and support of business telecommunications services to business clients across Australia. 1Cloud seeks to provide customised solutions that meets with their business customers initial telecommunication needs, whilst also taking into consideration their potential future growth and operational changes.
Rob is the Service Delivery Manager at 1Cloud, and in that role he helps to oversee the project management and provisioning of new business services for their clients.
Today we’ll be discussing the redundancy options for phone and internet services.
*The information provided within this podcast is general in nature, and 1Cloud recommends speaking with a business telecommunications specialist regarding your own specific needs and requirements. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of 1Cloud Voice & Data, not PodMD.
Rob, thanks for talking with us on PodMD today.
Rob: Thank you for having me
The topic of today’s discussion is the redundancy options available for the phone and internet services within your practice. That is, what backup measures could you have in place for when you happen to lose your normal services. With more of our business applications and critical data being online these days, what is redundancy and why is it necessary?
Rob: Great question, and you are absolutely correct that we have become ever more reliant on the internet within our businesses.
We rely on it for our business applications, for example Office365, Accounting & Practice Management systems, and Zoom, Microsoft Teams etc., and to gain access to our cloud stored data and records. And now that business telephony is IP, or internet based, having consistent and reliable internet access is very important for the delivery of our voice and video calls.
When you lose your access to these critical business systems, it makes continuing on with your normal day-to-day business operations extremely difficult, and then there is also the impact to your client’s experience, as well as the added stress for all the team, and possibly some financial cost as well.
So when we talk about redundancy, we are looking at what are the possible options available that can keep these critical business services, both the internet and phones, up and operational when you experience an unplanned outage event of some kind.
OK, so is there a way that we can ensure that we always have internet access at our premises and never experience an outage?
Rob: Well, in a perfect world, wouldn’t it be fantastic if technology always worked and never broke down.
Of course the reality is that there will be failures, and outages and other events that are just unavoidable, and these are a fact of day-to-day business life.
The important thing is, how do we best manage that reality.
So whilst there are several things that you cannot directly control, you can however, be prepared for some of these events such as power outages, and unplanned or planned internet outages, natural disasters, and as we are all now aware, public health orders such as we had experienced during the recent COVID lock-downs and restrictions.
We would recommend for any business or critical service, that several steps be taken to prepare for these possibilities that can interrupt your normal business operations.
So Rob, what steps should we take to prepare for these possible, or should I say more likely eventualities
Rob: Yes that’s right, it is more a case of when, not if these kind of things will happen, it is just a matter of time before we all experience one or more of these type of events. That’s the world we live in today where we rely on, and expect all technology to work all the time, 24/7 and 365 days a year, unfortunately we also know that is not a reality and we need to be prepared for failures whether they are internal to our business, or within the external environments.
The most obvious issue would be the impact from your internet access failing, and there are several options to potentially deal with this kind of event. We would recommend as a minimum, that a quality internet router with automatic 4G/5G failover is used, that way if your main internet connection happens to fail, the router will automatically switch to using a 4G/5G mobile network.
A more slightly more sophisticated option is to have several types of internet connection and from different network carriers – for example two NBN connections, or a Fixed Wireless, Satellite or 4G/5G connection. And to then use a multi-WAN router that can automatically switch between the various available internet connections. It is also possible to monitor connection performance and resolve any issues before losing all connections.
The most sophisticated, most redundant, but of course the more costly option, is the use of what is termed an SDWAN – or Software Defined WAN. Fundamentally, this setup requires a business or enterprise grade SDWAN hardware appliance that can combine multiple internet connections, that blends them together for a stable and error free connection with a single static IP address. It is great for remote access and services that need to maintain a single static IP address to gain remote access or secure connection to cloud applications. It also has the advantage of routing data by the most optimal connection to the destination required, giving an enhanced user experience and more responsive and reliable service. You would definitely need your Service Provider and a suitably qualified IT Consultant involved with the implementation of this kind of solution as it is more technical to setup.
A loss of power is the next most common cause of an outage. Remembering that without power, all the devices that operate on your internal office network will not operate. You can address this by utilising an Uninterruptable Power Supply or UPS, which is essentially a battery with enough power to keep your Modem/Router Network Switches, Phones etc. operating for several hours while the power is out. Your IT supplier should be able to calculate the power required for all the devices on your network and then choose an appropriate size UPS based on how many hours you may possibly want to run your critical devices for.
That’s great, so we have covered Internet and Power redundancy, but what about the phones?
Rob: Well that really depends a lot on how your business phones are set up. If you have an onsite phone system, or PBX as we refer to them, then you would definitely need a UPS to try and maintain power to that system. You should also ask your service provider to set up an automatic diversion at the carrier network level if your onsite phone system is offline at any time. Perhaps diverting your calls to an office mobile phone or to an external answering service. These days however, the more reliable and flexible business phone solution to utilise is what is often referred to as a Hosted Phone System. Most phone service providers will offer a Hosted, or Cloud based PBX phone system.
One of the distinct advantages of this technology type, is if your desktop phone handsets are offline at any time, the phone system itself continues to operate in the cloud and it can then direct calls based on your preferred settings. This could include making your incoming calls for the main business number ring on mobile phones, or routing them to the voicemail system and then forwarding those voicemail messages to you as emails with audio file attachments for playback, or even routing the calls to an alternate office location.
It can also allow you and your team to take the office phone handsets home, plug the phone into your home internet connection via your router, and then to continue on with business as usual from home until services to your main business site are restored.
So that also sounds like a great solution for when people may be forced to work away from their office?
Rob: That is correct, it could be as simple as working from several practices and being reachable at any of those practice locations, or in the case of flood or pandemic as we have recently seen, staff can work from home and still be connected to the main office system, just as if they were all still working within the same building.
It also accommodates flexible staffing options such as job sharing or staff working from home, which of course in the last couple of years has now become more common. This can also help you to keep good staff by being able to provide flexible work hours and still keep them productive and in contact with the business. It also means your main business phone number is being used on outgoing calls, and staff are not using mobile phones and presenting random numbers, therefore giving you greater control.
In closing, can you possibly give us a quick recap on what we should be considering with regard to our business telco redundancy options
Rob: Yes certainly.
Firstly, the most common cause for interruptions to your business telecommunications systems, that is, your internet access and telephone access, will be either an onsite power outage, and or an internet outage of some kind.
Totally relying on a single internet service to remain online always and forever, or for the electricity network to never go down, is of course completely unrealistic, and businesses must factor this into their business risk and business continuity planning.
Secondly, please do consult closely with a specialist business Telco advisor and your IT Consultant to gain a sound understanding of what services and equipment may best suit your type of business. This will help limit the risks and the impact that some of these events may have on your business operations.
And finally, please don’t leave it for an unplanned outage or event to occur before you then consider what the telco redundancy needs are for your business.
Remember that it is far easier to plan for and implement these type of redundancy options prior to any event occurring, than when you are scrambling about in the middle of unplanned outage and have all the other added stresses that it may bring with it.
Thanks again for your time and the insight’s you’ve provided.
Rob: Thank you