A disaster can strike at any time, whether it involves a major weather event, a cyberattack, or something more mundane like a power outage or equipment failure. An organization’s response to disaster plays a critical role in the business impact.

Organizations that are unprepared are likely to suffer significant business disruption. IT systems will go down and data will be lost. Customers, partners and even employees may be left wondering what steps the organization is taking to recover — if it will recover at all.

That’s why disaster preparedness is so important. It helps ensure that you have a plan of action for recovering essential systems and sustaining critical business processes. A disaster recovery plan should also include a strategy for internal and external communications so that everyone is on the same page.

ShoreTel’s unified communications (UC) platform can be an invaluable aid in disaster recovery planning. It provides a vital communications link that helps you keep everyone informed both during and after the disaster. And with ShoreTel you can rest assured that your phone system will remain available. The ShoreTel platform is built on a self-healing architecture with redundant components distributed throughout the system.

Redundancy plays a critical role in the reliability of any system. Engineers often refer to “N+1 redundancy,” which means there is one independent backup for a given component. Highly critical systems might have N+2, N+3 or even higher redundancy to ensure there’s no single point of failure.

ShoreTel systems are known for their reliability because redundancy was built into the architecture from the start. Each ShoreTel voice switch is capable of keeping the system running, and can be installed anywhere on the network as a hardware appliance or virtual machine. The design is known as “distributed call processing.”

In addition, the software that provides the UC services can be installed on multiple physical and virtual servers that can be implemented anywhere on the network in a failover configuration. This is known as “distributed voice application servers.”

When configured properly, the redundant equipment can take over operation of the system should the primary equipment fail. If the equipment in a branch location goes down, it doesn’t impact the rest of the system. This is known as “local survivability of branch locations.”

What if you lose connectivity with your telecommunications service provider? The ShoreTel system allows you to implement multiple telco circuits, SIP trunks or Internet connections, with automatic failover in the event of an outage. Inbound and outbound calls are automatically rerouted to the backup connection so that your phone system is always available. This is known as “dial tone redundancy.”

Finally, the ShoreTel system enables employees to communicate even if the phone system is down.  Calls can be automatically routed to alternate sites or mobile phones. Employees can also switch to instant messaging or chat if voice communication is unreliable.

No one likes to think about a disaster, but disaster planning is critical to any business. ShoreTel has taken steps to ensure that your phone system will stay online, providing the communications services you need to support your disaster recovery plan.