Downtime is the bane of existence for unified communications users and service providers alike. When normal operations are disrupted and significant periods of downtime occur, that spells trouble for both the service provider and the customer who relies on that UC solution. For a UC provider, any amount of downtime will sour their relationship with their clientele, especially when delivering hosted PBX to an enterprise. Downtime can be incredibly costly, and not just in terms of losing the trust of the end-user. Service providers can be hit hard financially if they are driving clients into the arms of competitors promising more resilience and reliability. What is even more concerning is the fact that the common causes of downtime are unavoidable.
Identifying the primary causes of downtime
To better understand why downtime occurs, let’s take a look at three common causes of downtime that cannot be avoided:
- Natural disasters – Natural disasters can cause a great deal of damage as far as IT, UC, and cloud-based services are concerned. According to a 2013 study released by the Quorum, natural disasters rank as one of the top causes for data center failure. More than one-third of survey respondents cited these types of incidents as the most likely cause of downtime. It’s important to note that natural disasters are not necessarily limited to such extreme occurrences as gale-force hurricanes or massive earthquakes. Intense summer storms, blizzards, flooding and even more common weather events can damage communication equipment and prevent VoIP and UC providers from delivering services to their clientele.
- Human error – The telecom industry is as technologically advanced as ever, but it’s still susceptible to mistakes made by manual operators. A 2013 report issued by the European Network and Information Security Agency highlighted just how harmful to normal service delivery these incidents can be. Although human error accounted for just 5 percent of the observed downtime instances, such events lasted for 26 hours, on average. As Dark Reading noted, there were a wide variety of manual mistakes reported on in this study. In one situation, a system configuration error committed by a single person resulted in users being unable to make outgoing international calls for a period of four hours. In another event, a ship dropped its anchor on submarine telecom cables, severing them and resulting in service downtime.
- DDoS – People can cause downtime in other ways beyond simple mistakes as well. Malicious attackers can bring telecom systems grinding to a halt or bring them down altogether through cyber attacks. Most often, these occur as distributed denial-of-service attacks where service providers are inundated with traffic and network requests from hackers or other individuals looking to disrupt operations. According to Dark Reading, a single DDoS attack prevented 2.5 million ISP users from accessing the Internet for two hours.
For service providers, it’s important to realize that DDoS attacks can be harmful even when they aren’t specifically targeting your organization. If a vendor’s servers reside in the same data center space as the victim of a DDoS attack, that excess traffic can easily spill over onto its network, overwhelming available resources.
Keep downtime in check with n-Share
When these types of events occur, it’s essential that service providers have the ability to minimize their damage. There’s no way to completely prevent human error, natural disasters or DDoS attacks from happening. Your best bet is to have a system in place that builds in redundancy so operations can continue even in the midst of a downtime incident.
Global Phone’s n-Share technology allows service providers to implement geographic diversity across multiple nodes within their network. This means that if one site goes offline due to human error, for instance, all of the processes needed to deliver real-time communication will automatically fail over to another node in the network. This way, downtime can be significantly reduced and technicians can work on rectifying the problem without alerting the end-user. With n-Share in their corner, VoIP and UC service providers can minimize the time and money lost to instances of downtime, resulting in more satisfied customers and a more robust bottom line.