Jonathan Theders, CEO of RiskSOURCE® Clark-Theders (www.risksource.com), knew in order to best serve his clients he needed to have an up-to-date, comprehensive business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery plan in place. The final piece of Theders’ BC plan was his phone system. He needed to upgrade his system and establish a redundant connection for network connectivity.
RiskSource’s BC plan addresses many facets of the business including data backup and recovery, mission critical systems, financial and operational valuations, alternative communications, regulatory reporting, and critical supplier, contractor, bank and counter-party impact.
While a catastrophic event cannot be predicted precisely, RiskSOURCE conducted a thorough risk assessment and thus specified methods to continue to operate at a high level if disruptions occur. Potential threats can come from a variety areas such as natural (severe weather, tornados), human/political (civil threats, transportation shutdowns, violence), technological (power outages, hardware/software failures), and security (privacy, data theft).
“Creating a business continuity plan that is unique to our operation was critical to our client commitment. In our business environment, our customers need us most when catastrophes occur,” said Theders. “Over the last six months we have implemented a plan that optimizes our ability to conduct business should a community-wide or isolated interruption occur. We have taken the appropriate steps to protect our people, our clients, our infrastructure and our services.”
Phone System and Data
Saddled with an outdated analog phone system and an insufficient data connection, RiskSOURCE turned to ATC and senior telecom consultant, Nick Enger, for assistance. RiskSOURCE was maxing out its existing 10MB of bandwidth. This was compounded by the fact that RiskSOURCE had already started moving to a hosted, cloud model by migrating some critical servers into a secure data center.
Enger conducted an audit of RiskSOURCE’s current telecom services and contracts. He then went to work specifying a new phone system and sourcing networks for primary and backup connectivity. Enger put together a “like for like” services comparison for RiskSOURCE’s review while also evaluating multiple phone systems to identify the “best fit” solution.
RiskSOURCE chose Cincinnati Bell’s (CBTS) cloud-based VoIP system, Emerge, for their phone system. Of the many features and functionalities available to them, RiskSOURCE heavily utilizes the systems’ receptionist software with presence and drag-and-drop call functionality.
Since the Emerge PBX is hosted in the cloud, if a local outage occurs the phone system will remain live and operational, receiving calls and taking voicemail. Moreover, find-me-follow-me functionality allows for calls to be forwarded to cell phones.
RiskSource’s voice traffic runs across a 4.5MB circuit (3 bonded T1s), which also acts as RiskSOURCE’s backup network for data. This is critical to the RiskSOURCE BC plan—dual connectivity. RiskSOURCE upgraded its primary data network to 20MB of fiber (from 10). Even though both connections are with CBTS, each circuit runs off a separate network within the CBTS grid. In addition, both connections serve as failover networks.
ATC worked hand-in-hand with RiskSOURCE’s IT services firm, Agency Technologies, during network and phone system implementation. Agency Technologies configured and deployed an intelligent firewall that enables automatic failover to either network if one goes down.
Even though RiskSOURCE received a brand new hosted VoIP phone system with 28 Polycom handsets, doubled their fiber connectivity, and added a second a 4.5MB network, their monthly expense only increased 16 percent.
“During my discovery engagement with Jonathan Theders it was clear that RiskSOURCE’s competitive advantage was that they strive to always be available for their clients,” said Enger. Jonathan and the executive team at RiskSOURCE had very detailed plans on disaster recovery for their servers and files, but nothing was in place for communications. Deploying a cloud-based phone system with dual-internet connectivity and cell phone failover allows RiskSOURCE to continue to serve clients when their competition can’t.”
Adds Theders, “ATC did a great job of guiding and pairing us with the right solutions. Communications are critical to our business. When something bad happens and an outage occurs, we have a backup network, which gives us assurance that we will be able to handle our customer’s calls when they need us most.”