When disasters like tornados and hurricanes strike businesses,
bringing the business back online (or better yet, not having your business go
down at all) is critical to ensure the enterprise survives, and one of the top
priorities is making sure customers have a clear way to reach the company. 

preparation is crucial to ensure businesses stay operational when a disaster
strikes, and regardless of your views on climate change, it makes sense to
assume the next major disaster is a question of when – not if – it will happen.

the emergence of cloud-based services means that businesses have a wide range
of options for maintaining communications and protecting vital information
resources in the event of a disaster. Here are three steps to take before the
next storm strikes to ensure your organization stays connected in the aftermath
of the next major natural disaster.

1. Outline a backup connection plan depending on
cloud-based SIP trunking.

Even if your
business uses conventional public switched telephone network (PSTN)
connections, work with your service provider or integrator to implement a
backup system that shifts main communications connections to a cloud-based SIP
trunking infrastructure. Having a detailed system and transition plan in place
– including connections to office numbers in the local area code – before a
disaster ensures a smooth, immediate transition to cloud-based connections,
eliminating delays in setting up new connections on the fly, while customers
and constituents wonder whether your enterprise has been destroyed.

2. Deploy a cloud-based PBX or unified
communications as a service (UCaaS) solution that provides employees with
remote access to their business phone lines.

disasters can make your office inaccessible or impossible to use, even if the
building remains untouched, through power outages or downed lines and
connections. By providing employees in remote offices or in home-offices with
access to their business phone extension, businesses can make sure incoming calls
continue to be handled efficiently. The key is to make sure someone outside of
the immediate disaster area can access and manage their business phone lines. This
provision will allow customers and partners to reach a company representative
live, who can explain what your organization is doing to maintain services and
restore normal business operations.

3. Define a plan to inform customers and partners of
how you will maintain communications and operations in advance of a major storm
or other events that disrupt normal business operations.

fires and earthquakes occur without warning, but in the case of hurricanes,
businesses may have several days to prepare. It is important to define a
disaster communications plan for informing customers and partners of how you
will keep connections open and available in the event that primary connections
go down. This process gives customers greater confidence in your business, and
maps a clear process for how their needs will be met if a disaster strikes.

4. Deploy communications and data to at least two
geographically dispersed locations.

weather and other disasters can overwhelm the most resilient data centers and
infrastructure, which is why it’s critical to use more than one location for
deploying communications and data. Most public and private cloud providers
offer redundancy packages that keep your operations working in the event that one
location goes down from a power failure, data link failure or other problems
that can arise.

It’s easy to
feel powerless when storms like Hurricane Sandy strike or an F5 tornado sweeps
through a suburb. Yet taking basic steps to ensure communications links remain
open will help keep your business operating, give customers additional
confidence and help your employees and your company survive when the next
Frankenstorm attacks.

By Charles Studt. Charles is vice president of product
management and marketing, IntelePeer.