Technology Advisor Blog

VoIP Telephony - e911 and Staying Connected in the Covid-19 Crisis

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 4/3/20 3:37 PM

VoIP Phone - Ekaru IT ServicesVoIP (Voice over IP) telephony ensures effective communication and business continuity in times of crisis, as many of our clients have seen over the past few weeks.  Unlike traditional phone systems that are tied to an office location, VoIP phones can be used anywhere. 

Over the past few weeks we've helped clients all over the Boston area and surrounding suburbs to set up productive work from home environments.  The handset can simply be moved from the office to home, or users can use a smart phone app or desktop app to make and receive office calls.  Outbound calls have the business caller ID (even from a smart phone) ensuring a professional presentation, and you'll never miss an inbound call or voicemail.

In this way, VoIP phones can provide an enhanced experience compared to traditional phone lines, but they differ in some important ways.

Unlike the old copper phone lines, a VoIP phone won't work during a power outage or Internet outage.  Very importantly this includes 911 service.  During the outage the system will still be able receive voicemails, or even process simultaneous rings to cellular service, but you would not be able to make outbound calls with your handset.

Another important distinction is that the Enhanced 911 functionality, which includes automatic forwarding of location and call back information in the event of a disruption of a 911 call, would not function properly if the "address" for the phone is still the physical office.  For this reason, if you need to call 911, it is important to stay on the line and provide your address and callback information.

When using your business line from home, if these limitations are of concern, we recommend that you maintain an alternative method to reach 911. 

Note also that you can register additional phone numbers for your system - Direct Inward Dial or "DID" - to associate to users who may permanently be in a home office, and separate addresses can be associated with these numbers.   In that case the Caller ID would be set to the separate phone number, and that can be registered with E911. Also, if you were to move your entire office, the new address would be registered with E911.  

If you need help with any questions about phone systems or setting up a productive remote work environment, call Ekaru at 978-692-4200.

Tags: Managed Services, business continuity, VoiP,

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity - Optimize your Backup!

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 11/2/11 2:31 PM

WinterWeatherWe've had several days of power outages after a surprise October snow storm, and this serves as a good reminder to think about disaster planning and business continuity.  Today, businesses of all sizes need a data disaster recovery plan, which helps ensure the company will continue operations after experiencing some type of disaster due to:

  • Power outages
  • Severe Weather
  • Natural disaster
  • Hardware failure
  • Theft
  • Employee mistakes
  • A malicious act from a disgruntled employee or outsider
  • Loss of key personnel
  • Supply Chain Disruption
  • ...big disasters and small disasters...
While a snow storm may pose a few days of inconvenience, it's a good idea to plan for bigger disasters in advance.  People tend to "look on the bright side", but the statistics are scary:
  • According to the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington D.C., 93 percent of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster.

  • According to The Gartner Group, 34% of companies fail to test their tape backups, and of those that do, 77% have found tape back-up failures.

  • Data recovery services costs range from hundreds to thousands of dollars IF your hard drive can be recovered.

There are many aspects to a good disaster recovery plan to cover personnel, facilities, and technology.  One of the key areas we focus on is getting a solid data backup which is easy to do, and will alleviate a lot of pain when disaster strikes.

If you're still using tape backup, it's time to make a change RIGHT NOW.  Tape Backups are a “known evil,” and industry analysts estimate that anywhere from 40 to 70% of all attempted recoveries  from tapes fail.  Why?  Consider the tape backup process and the many points of potential failure that exist throughout:  You need to Install, update, and configure Backup Software, and determine exactly:  1) what to back up, and 2) when to back up.  Are you sure you're backing up ALL of your critical data, as often as you should?  Tapes also wear out over time .

Your backup should be:

  • Automatic - "set it and forget it" (except PLEASE check restores periodically, best practice is automatic verification)
  • Off-site - rather than relying on taking drives off site, we recommend on-line backup now that costs have come way down and make it affordable for small business.  Keeping your backup in the same building you work will leave you exposed in the event of a site disaster.  Best bet is to get your data FAR away.
  • Local copy too! - If your backup is only on-line, keep in mind that it can take a LONG time to get your data back when you need it.  With a redundant local copy, you get the best of both worlds.
  • Image based rather than file based.  If you do need to get new equipment, rather than spending all that time reloading all your applications (IF you can find the disks), and image-based backup basically serves as a clone.

For clients who have a high cost of down-time, we strongly urge them to consider an optimized backup and disaster recovery service.

For more details about putting a full plan in place, check out a great article on  Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning: The Basics

Tags: backup, disaster recovery, business continuity, on-line backup, image backup

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