Whenever there is a significant world event interest in disaster recovery and business continuity immediately comes to the forefront of an enterprises priority either to review, test or improve. Once out of the limelight though interest decreases exponentially and the regular cycle of annual or semiannual power downs and recovery testing begins again.

In the event of a disaster communication is critical in letting employees and customers know what is going on as well as getting technology back up and running.

Communication tools are the critical systems in aiding recovery.

Having spent 20 years working for several large financial institutions it amazes me there is little focus on communication tools during a disaster.  Yes there are external employee hotline numbers and company internet sites to provide updates but for how many companies is their primary method of chat, telephony, video conferencing and remote access systems (that you urgently need to use) also contained within the location that is being impacted?

Video Conferencing is a key tool for enterprises for communication but senior management focus is generally on the equipment in the room and little thought is given to the infrastructure residing in the data centre. How does the AV department operate without their gatekeeper, MCU, management system and address books for example? Whilst applications and data storage are fully resilient and fail over to alternate data centres most enterprise video conference systems do not. Either due to the cost of purchasing additional infrastructure or they are simply not configured for this scenario. Often, the easy “cop out” is to exclude video conferencing from the disaster recovery testing with the answer that it is not a critical system. When a disaster does happen, try explaining that to the board when they are dealing with a crisis and telepresence or video conferencing is now part of the problem and not part of the solution.

Partnering with the likes of VCEverywhere can help with this. VCEverywhere can help independently assess your video conferencing infrastructure recovery plans and can provide external virtual rooms for you to use during a disaster. This avoids the need to purchase significant amounts of additional infrastructure for fail over saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Whilst data centre outages and complete power or network failures are fortunately becoming rarer events a second area which receives a low priority are the disasters that happen every day. Whilst these are less news worthy they are equally disruptive. These are the events that involve staff rather than physical locations.

There is the daily issue of staff disruption. The daily disruptions come in many guises they may impact a key individual, a department or even the whole office. Here are some examples:

Even though some of the examples above are on an extraordinary scale the same hold true for even a senior manager unable to attend a meeting as a result of their car not starting. It is nowadays a reasonable expectation that the same or nearly the same tools in the office be available from home. In the past this entailed giving users laptops tightly controlled with corporate policy, more recently accessing virtual machines or RDP sessions is proving to be a preferable experience and far more cost effective as people can use their own PC’s or tablets to access services. This trend though does not help with real time communications. Video conferencing and telephony do not work via virtual sessions.

Nowadays peoples home pc’s and tablets have more than enough power for video conferencing and with free software from VCEverywhere these can be integrated with your room systems in minutes. The key to the success is by making the software easy to use and reliable. Should support be required there is a 24×7 live helpdesk for the users directly.

With VCEverywhere it is easy to enable your workforce to work from home at low cost and without any capex or infrastructure and without any additional support burden on the IT department it becomes a very compelling communication tool.

VCEverywhere take the office experience of participating in a video conference and make it available for global B2B, B2C and home or travelling users independently on our carrier-grade platform and through integration with existing in-room systems.

When considering extending your video conferencing to remote users there are several key questions you need to ask:

  • Are the hosting data centres top tier at the heart of the internet?
  • Is the solution intuitive and easy for users to use?
  • Is the solution secure ? Is end to end encryption provided?
  • Is H.323, SIP, SVC, iPad, Android, Telepresence, Mac, PC & Lync environments included ?
  • Can I join the meeting via legacy ISDN or Audio ?
  • Can I share and receive content?
  • No need to make firewall changes and can the desktop software install without requiring admin rights?
  • Is there an option to schedule meetings via outlook plugin?
  • Does the solution integrate with existing voice and audio dial plans?
  • Is end user training included in the price?
  • No capex or commitment just a simple pay as you go model?
  • Call over flow and disaster recovey for your existing environment?
  • Can calls be recorded ?
  • Are monthly service reports and cost centre billing reports provided monthly?
  • Am I able to generate my own stats on demand?
  • Is a complete service provided from consultation, training and ongoing 24×7 live support ?

If your service provider can answer yes to all the questions above then you are already talking to VCEverywhere. If not, visit http://www.vceverywhere.com for a free trial and start to see the benefits of extending your video conference experience.

As Featured On EzineArticles

Mark Stainton-James is a recognised technology leader with over 20 years of experience in managing global teams and setting technology strategy for many of the worlds leading financial institutions.

http://www.VCEverywhere.com is a video conferencing exchange provider allowing any video conferencing endpoint to communicate with any other end point regardless of platform.