Keeping Your Cool When Severe Weather Hits

Extreme weather events have caused massive destruction across North America in recent months. In early 2018, the eastern part of the U.S. experienced a “bomb cyclone” consisting of severe cold temperatures, massive amounts of snow and lots of misery. Last summer and early fall, the Gulf Coast and Caribbean were hard hit by hurricanes during one of the most severe tropical storm seasons in years. Parts of Puerto Rico still are struggling to even get the power back on and other services.

Weather wreaks havoc not only on daily life, but disrupts businesses as well. Lack of power, paralyzed transportation and infrastructure damage have a definite impact on “business as usual.” Over the past several years, the Ponemon Institute (https://www.ponemon.org/), which conducts independent research on privacy, data protection and information security policy, has launched three studies since 2010 on the cost of data center downtime. In its latest study (2016), the research shows that the average cost of a data center outage was $740,000, an increase of 38% since the first study in 2010.

5 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Private Cloud Anymore - Read the Free EbookThe cost of one outage can be measured in many ways—loss of revenue and productivity, damage to an organization’s reputation in the market, customer churn and loss of future opportunities. Depending on the timing and duration of an outage, some industries may be more adversely affected than others. Think about a resort hotel that is unable to book rooms online during the height of the tourist season. Potential customers quickly lose patience and head to the competition or give up entirely. Or consider a transportation organization—outages cause inconvenience for passengers and loss of revenue for carriers, but might be a safety concern as well.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Two elements of business planning, business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR), are especially critical during a disaster or outage. Continued business operations depend on an organization’s ability to replicate its systems and data quickly. The ability to plan ahead and adapt during a crisis to restore business operations — without long-term or permanent negative effects — are crucial to an organization’s success. Business continuity goes beyond staying up and running during a disaster. It also means keeping all parts of the business running effectively and efficiently, not just the technology systems.

It’s important to keep a BCDR plan updated as IT changes occur, such as when new applications are added, new technologies become available, or when moving applications to the cloud, for example. By keeping the BCDR plan aligned with the business plans, the IT team won’t be caught off guard when an outage occurs.

Fortunately, technology provides solutions that help mitigate the effects of a disaster, natural or otherwise, and keep businesses online.

Keeping Data Center Operations Humming

For years it’s been a common practice for companies to maintain backup copies of data at an off-site location, usually within a short driving distance of the primary data center. While this practice works for many outage situations, a natural disaster such as a snowstorm, earthquake or mud slide could have a widespread geographic impact that affects not only the location of the main data center, but the backup location as well.

Deploying a cloud solution mitigates that disaster scenario. Cloud-based services support an organization’s ability to plan for disaster recovery and benefit ongoing business continuity. Cloud solutions come in three major deployments—public, private and hybrid. All have pros and cons, depending on the organization’s needs. For instance, private cloud solutions such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provide the elasticity, flexibility and scalability of a public cloud, but can be dedicated to one account, thus providing a more personalized and secure solution.

IaaS solutions offer advantages over a public cloud, including seamless technology upgrades and more control. Advanced compute, storage and network technology can combine in a private cloud offering such as IaaS, but no solution is “one-size-fits-all.” It’s important to work with a service provider who can create a solution that fits the organization. IaaS lends itself to customization that caters to the unique needs of an organization.

The advantages of a private cloud are numerous:

  • Lower costs than maintaining a private data center
  • Maintain standards of regulatory compliance
  • Access to the latest technologies making it easier to stay current
  • More control than a public cloud, including a more secure solution
  • Standard billing so there are no “surprises”
  • Less burden on internal IT teams and staff

During a natural disaster, IaaS can be the ideal solution for BCDR. By providing an off-premises, hosted environment, the data center continues to operate from a location far removed from the disaster.  Data is secured and transactions with customers and partners continue without interruption. Fault-tolerant servers  offer five 9s of uptime and scalability.  A grid storage system  helps ensure redundancies to protect a company’s mission-critical data. Using grid storage, a company can replicate its data at an off-site location. During an outage or natural disaster, the master site can be recovered by using the data at the remote site, by means of an Optimized Copy, without having to import backup images.

NEC partner Iron Mountain maintains its National Data Center, located 220 feet below ground in Western Pennsylvania and considered one of the most secure, compliant and energy-efficient data center complexes in the world. As a technology infrastructure provider and part of Iron Mountain’s Data Center Marketplace, NEC is able to provide additional value-added services such as Disaster Recovery as a Service from this secure location.

Learn how NEC teams up with its partner Iron Mountain to provide an IaaS solution housed in one of the most secure locations in the world, the Iron Mountain National Data Center.

Location of the ‘Office’ No Longer Matters

When a weather event or other natural disaster strikes, the ability to enable employees to work from anywhere becomes critical. Working remotely means staff can perform their jobs as seamlessly as if they were in the office, supporting business operations, serving customers, suppliers and partners, and getting their work done.

Cloud-based applications enable employees to keep things running from remote locations. With unified communications and collaboration tools such as softphones, instant messaging, and audio and video conferencing, dispersed teams collaborate and work on projects even when the weather outside slows transportation to a crawl. Enabling employees to do their jobs even when they can’t get to the office keeps them safe during dangerous travel conditions as well.

Virtual desktops can be linked through a private network connection to a secure, remote data center far from the bad weather or natural disaster. Best of all, desktops in the cloud look and behave as if they are part of a corporate IT environment. Customers and employees won’t notice a difference in the quality of service.

Software-defined networking (SDN) simplifies network management, proactively addresses network performance and quickly re-routes network traffic as needed—all critical functions during a severe weather occurrence or natural disaster.  An SDN solution centralizes control of the network and automatically monitors and prioritizes network traffic, distributing it according to pre-defined policies and constantly updates network resources and traffic conditions.

When the blizzard, mud slide, earthquake, wildfire or hurricane strikes your location, the right solutions and technology enable business as usual. Consider private cloud solutions when developing your business continuity and disaster recovery plans to help create a safe and secure environment that protects data and applications, and keeps your business running.

Smart Enterprise

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5 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Private Cloud Anymore

To learn more about the benefits of a private cloud, check out 5 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Private Cloud Anymore. Fill out the form to download the ebook.

 
 
 
 
 



Why Make SIP A Customer Priority?

How prepared are you for what’s ahead and the technologies that will be the drivers of change in 2016?

Simply put, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and SIP Trunking can smartly transform your customers’ communications infrastructure for the better.Why Make SIP A Customer Priority?It can be done rapidly and cost effectively while seamlessly providing access to highly scalable unified communications so their employees and customers can benefit from faster responses enabled by anytime, anywhere availability on any device. Also by enabling ready access to feature-rich collaborative tools, your accounts could experience an increase in workforce productivity and cooperation.

Begin learning today why SIP is a smart technology investment. Get started with a free ebook courtesy of NEC.

Download Success with SIP 2.0 a 52-page ebook by Gary Audin, President of Delphi, Inc., to share a comprehensive assessment of SIP including:

  • SIP and related protocols
  • Session border controllers
  • SIP trunk values, benefits, and economics
  • SIP phones
  • Interoperability with SIP trunks
  • SIP trunk problems (IP PBX, SBC, trunk provider)and their resolution
  • Bandwidth calculations for VoIP and SIP trunks
  • Delivering a successful SIP implementation project

 

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Learning the value and operation of SIP is now important to anyone working in the field of communications and collaboration. Understanding what SIP does and does not support helps you to grasp the implementation issues involved.

 

 



Can you Change the Customer Experience with Technology?

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to visit the YMCA of Greater Louisville to gain insight into how they used technology to solve a common business problem. After speaking with customers and employees in the branches, I noticed just how much the organization cares about serving its members and visitors. And I was even more impressed with how they handle customer interactions. You can check out the results of our visit in the video case study.

One of the first things I noticed was how quiet the lobby was. Not one phone ringing. Instead, members were having direct face-to-face conversations with Y team members at each desk, and receiving their undivided attention.

Since the YMCA of Greater Louisville has centralized all incoming calls to customer service via UNIVERGE® 3C and Contact Center solutions from NEC, the front-line staff at Branch locations can focus on providing a great customer experience. This gave on-site employees the necessary time and the freedom to address every concern in person, while the customer was in the branch. Part of the YMCA’s mission is to ensure customer satisfaction via uninterrupted, one-on-one interaction, either in person or by phone.

So often, as we get caught up in the technology and not the people that it serves, we lose the intended purpose of the technology. But this was not the case for the YMCA of Greater Louisville. This organization found the right balance to meet their customer needs.

Free Ebook: UCaas RFP 2016

YMCA’s VP of IT (Ryan Kingery) and CEO (Steve Tarver) had encountered a problem that is not unique to any retail outlet or public organization serving its community: WAIT TIMES! At the core of the YMCA mission is the ability to serve its community and members, but the challenge they faced was the increasing wait times in their branches, which necessarily led to less in-person customer interaction due to long lines and busy phones.
Think of this scenario: if you have kiddos, you know that swim camp, t-ball registration or even your own “ME” time at the indoor pool cannot be done without registration. And the quicker you can get your registration(s) complete, the quicker you move on to being a satisfied customer, which is what we all want. The solution the YMCA put in place did just that–and it improved the quality of the real-time, one-on-one interactions between employees and clients.

Happy Customer = Better Customer Experience = Revenue Growth

Whether it’s about internal accounting clients at your company utilizing core IT- supported services, or a customer whose satisfaction is crucial to the continuing revenue growth of your company, a pleasing customer experience is the ultimate goal.

So, after this experience with the YMCA, I am wondering how many IT professionals are running across similar business problems that negatively impact a customer experience within your own organizations. What are you doing to change that experience?

You can watch the video below to see how the YMCA was able to achieve its mission.

Free Ebook: UCaaS RFP 2016

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UCaaS/Hybrid RFP & Review IP Telephony and Unified Communications System

There are significant differences in offerings from the major vendors in terms of architecture, functionality and total cost of ownership. IT organizations are encouraged to work with their business units to understand their unique requirements and to articulate these in an RFP or other formal procurement vehicle.



UCaaS / Hybrid RFP: What Can Cloud Providers Deliver?

Are you looking to move your communications infrastructure to the cloud?

Download today the IP Telephony and Unified Communications System (Cloud and Hybrid Solutions), a free whitepaper / eBook from independent consultant David Stein of Stein Technology Consulting Group that offers the unique chance to examine cloud and hybrid cloud solutions based on actual vendor RFP proposals.

In this free eBook  you will get:

  • An unbiased evaluation of 7 proposed cloud and hybrid cloud solutions
  • Insight into the merits of 5 leading communications vendors
  • A explanation of vendor differentiators

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Download and share this information rich eBook with your decision makers so they can also understand NEC’s leadership position in cloud and hybrid cloud migration, the value of a cloud-based UNIVERGE® Blue solution that is backed by NEC’s more than 117 years of expertise as a leading technologies and services provider.

Free Ebook: UCaaS RFP 2016

Free Ebook:

UCaaS/Hybrid RFP & Review IP Telephony and Unified Communications System

There are significant differences in offerings from the major vendors in terms of architecture, functionality and total cost of ownership. IT organizations are encouraged to work with their business units to understand their unique requirements and to articulate these in an RFP or other formal procurement vehicle.



Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Requires a Highly Available Lifeline

Why should we care about an airport phone system? In the world of Aircraft Rescue Firefighting (ARFF), the crash phone system is the most primary lifeline for mobilizing its First Responders to an emergency situation.

A crash phone system is used only in case of emergency alerts, for the deployment of response teams to a potential safety threat, or to an actionable emergency firefighting scene. The crash phone system is the critical first step in real-life situations where the key concern is survivability.

The Need for Speed

The Atlantic City International Airport crash phone was located in the control tower and accessed only by air traffic control personnel, operating on an old copper wire system. Rainy days sometimes affected the copper connections, and the sound could be scratchy and unclear.

To fully understand the importance of the crash phone system to an airport, you should first know that the FAA has a very tough “3-minute rule” for response time when they inspect every commercial airport in the USA. This means that one second after the crash call, the airport’s crash vehicles (carrying at least 3,000 gallons of water each) have less than 3 minutes to arrive at the target—that’s midway on their longest runway—suited up, ready for business , with water turrets visibly deployed!

The consequences of failure can get serious for airport operations. An airport can be fined by the FAA (recently as high as 3.5 million dollars) for non-compliance to federal safety regulations, and it can even lose its commercial certification and all future commercial revenue.
Since the FAA Technology Center is actually housed at the Atlantic City International Airport, this particular airport’s training and levels of compliance are especially scrutinized.

ARFF training maneuvers are a necessary and continuous part of airport life– not just for FAA inspections, but for the team’s daily emergency readiness. With this much at stake, a crash phone call—even during a training run, can never be unclear or unavailable.

“What is the nature of the emergency?” “Where is the aircraft?” “Number of souls on board?”

With so much depending on that phone call, it has to be reliable and crystal clear, every time.

#FAA has a very tough “3-minute rule” for response time when they inspect every commercial airport Click To Tweet

 

NEC’s Solution

Addressing these concerns, the Atlantic City International Airport had determined that its outdated, crash phone system was becoming increasingly unreliable, and they required more network flexibility, preferably with redundancy and back up deployment measures.

NEC’s Smart Enterprise solution, the Airport Emergency System, transformed this customer’s critical communications crash phone system with the simple installation of a high availability UNIVERGE  solution, moving it from weather-affected, trouble-prone and often “dirty” sounding copper wiring, onto their fiber optics network. Now the alert can be originated from multiple locations, putting the tower into immediate conversations with fire stations, airport operations, and other response personnel, and instantly bridges 2 to 32 stations together into a conference call. Their new system meets FAA requirements, is dependable (24/7), easy to use, and also cost efficient and easy to maintain, which had not been so with the old system.

 

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The Back-Up Plan

The South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) operates in a situation common for many airports. Strategically located within reach of surrounding municipalities, Atlantic City’s airport firefighters are responsible for both aircraft rescue/firefighting and responding to fire emergency alarms in the nearby communities.  ARFF teams are trained to handle aircraft, property and structural firefighting, and even EMT calls—however, since the old crash phone system only allowed initiation from the control tower, it was accessed only by busy air traffic controllers. NEC’s solution provided Airport Operations with secondary initiator access to the crash phone system, as an emergency back-up to the tower. Multiple initiators in a back-up plan ensures fast, dependable mobilization–to municipal fire scenes as well, when seconds also matter.

Expanding the Network

Lastly, but certainly not least, the new system is scalable. Additional phone lines within the old system required a major effort and the “pulling of copper”. Today, NEC’s cost effective solution allows extensions to be easily added to the crash phone system, to expand communications within the network with minimal effort and expense.

For this Smart Enterprise airport customer, NEC’s answer was actually a low cost IP communication system that is a simple, out-of-the-box, “off the shelf” solution. The NEC Airport Emergency System on a high availability UNIVERGE platform was simple to install and easy to use and maintain, yet extremely reliable and flexible. This basic communications platform met FAA requirements, and continues to allow fully engaged coordination of airport emergency teams for response that is faster and better informed.

After all, NEC’s mission is all about bringing together the very best available Smart Enterprise solutions for our customers, to orchestrate a brighter world – and a safer one.

To learn more, check out this third party white paper about Airport Crash Phone Systems.