In 2017, British Columbia witnessed its most devastating wildfire season on record at that time. According to the Vancouver Sun, more than 12,000 square kilometres burned as a result of 1,351 wildfires, 65,000 people were displaced, and the province was under a state of emergency for 70 days. The economic impact to individuals and businesses was severe, and it will take years to accurately calculate how much was actually lost.
The BC wildfires are just one more example of Mother Nature wreaking havoc. Remember the ice storm in Ontario and Quebec? The flooding in Calgary? Natural disasters keep happening, yet they aren’t the only events that can stop businesses in their tracks. Disasters of human origin – a car hitting a phone pole, a botched plumbing job, a corrupted software update – can have the same crippling effects. Not to mention cyber security attacks, which can paralyze a network and associated business operations.
You need to be prepared and insulate your organization as best you can. But how?
Determining your network redundancy needs
Network redundancy - it gives you backup or failover in the event of a network outage from natural or human made events. With that redundancy in place, you have a way to continue business operations even if your network is down.
There are different levels of redundancy that you can apply to any given service. It’s important to calculate your cost of downtime to determine the right level of redundancy for you.
Where is revenue being generated in your organization? What role does the network play in generating revenue and enabling your business? If the network is core to those activities, the importance of network redundancy increases.
Once you know the cost of an outage, you can choose a redundancy solution that fits that cost profile. For example, if your network is 100% business critical, you may determine that you need the full diversity and redundancy of a custom solution. However, if your business can operate on skeleton core activities in the event of a failure, then you can prioritize traffic and rely on wireless backup as an option.
Redundancy in the real world
We work with many different types of organizations to help them achieve the right level of redundancy for insurance in the event of a failure. Here are some examples:
Utility: Ultimate redundancy
A utility client provides critical infrastructure for citizens and corporations. Availability of services is essential, mandated and regulated. Utilities are often distributed entities. The network is critical to helping to control the infrastructure. Infrastructure including, remote monitoring of a pipeline’s status or a power shut down in a remote substation in the event of failure or a safety incident. In addition, utility consumers are increasingly turning to the internet for status updates in the event of emergencies.
Based on the critical nature of services and reliance on the network, a highly customized solution with fully redundant, diverse network connections makes strategic sense. Our TELUS engineers architected the solution to remove as many single points of failure as possible.
Retail: Wireless failover
For this chocolate purveyor, uptime is revenue because most customers pay with credit or debit. Contemplating a network refresh, our customer wanted a way to continue business operations – specifically point of purchase and ordering – if it experienced network issues. Previously, the client was failing over to wireless manually, requiring sales personnel in stores to receive and set up a wireless router.
We provided a combination solution, which included high speed Internet with wireless 4G backup, as well as a way to failover automatically between the two. The automatic failover was an essential requirement. The client now has the capability to fall back to the primary network once issues get resolved.
Agriculture: Network-as-a-Service (NaaS)
One of the largest greenhouses in the West has a large facility in Fraser, British Columbia, which is a challenging area for wired infrastructure. However, because the client regularly participates in auctions to sell flowers and plants (which have a short life span), the company has a low tolerance for downtime. Currently, the client has a high-bandwidth circuit, but wireless is really the only plausible backup option as a result of the remote location.
We recommended NaaS, which provides automatic failover to wireless with a greater bandwidth threshold. The solution, coupled with traffic prioritization policies, allows the client to maintain essential business activities in the event of network downtime.
We know that you may sometimes struggle with the ROI of redundancy. However, with the way IT management and telecommunications are evolving in many organizations, redundancy is plainly business critical.
As more and more companies move vital capabilities like voice, email, collaboration and CRM to the cloud, both business and IT leaders will recognize that redundancy is no longer a nice to have, but a need to have. There is a growing realization that “if I can’t access my network, I also can’t access all of the capabilities sitting in the cloud.”
How resilient is your organization? Understanding your cost of downtime can help you determine your redundancy needs and inform the solutions that your provider can recommend to keep your business up and running no matter what.
We’d like to help you explore what option would work best for your business, contact us today or reach out to your account manager.