Chances are, if you’ve shopped for voice or phone services any time recently, you’ve heard terms like “redundancy” and “failover.” While techie jargon sometimes gets ignored in favor of price or the shiniest bells and whistles, here’s why those two terms are critical to your company.
Until recently, Ma Bell was one of the only voice carriers. She might be having a good day in our state or our town, or she might be having a service interruption or outage, but she was all we had. Anyone in the older crowd remember that fast “beep beep beep” that meant your call wasn’t going through? It was all too common. And the fix? Wait it out. Complain. Hope for a quick fix to keep the calls flowing. In a word, non-ideal.
Then along came the Internet. Specifically, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), giving us the ability to make calls over the information superhighway. And the old adage that “If one is good, two must be better” kicked in (then three or four).
Now there are a multitude of carriers and, even though your business might connect directly to just one or two of them, your call will travel through any number of carriers before arriving on the device or platform of whomever you’re calling. The advantage of this is that your calls are more likely to make it to where they’re going.
Think of it like Google Maps. When you ask for directions to a place, it will typically show you two or three options for getting there. And, if there’s a big backup or an accident along one of the routes, it will reroute you even in midstream. It can only do that, though, if there are multiple roads – or carriers, in the case of voice calls – to choose from.
If you’ve driven much, you also know that sometimes even two or three alternative routes are insufficient, especially during rush hour. Fortunately there are far more “alternative routes” for cloud communications, and since your calls travel at lightning speed, they arrive at their destination seemingly just as quickly. In fact, for companies that utilize a Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) for their communications, interruptions and outages are exceedingly rare compared to the “olden days” with one carrier; it’s not that outages aren’t happening, they’re just being circumvented, or limited in impact.
Where you will see outages, however, is when you use a single carrier as your beginning and end point and that carrier develops an issue. Or you build an application on a platform like Twilio, Nexmo, Plivo, or Vonage, and their limited carrier options and lack of transparency don’t allow you to take control or find/solve common issues.
Can You Afford an Outage?
It’s also worth noting that if outages are somewhat less common, the price tag for each has risen astronomically. Back in the Ma Bell days, if you wanted to buy something you *might* call your local store to verify they were open, but more likely you already knew their hours and just got in your car to go shop. The shop employees also worried less about answering a call if they were busy. In other words, calling was less relevant to day-to-day activities and, therefore, profitability.
Fast forward to today and business is 24/7, everything is online, customers are global, and they all expect you to answer immediately – in their time zone. Even the small mom-and-pop shops utilize answering services, and their shops are probably less “local” than they look! The net result of an outage today is a huge hit to business. A moderately sized contact center, for example, can lose tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for each hour down. Productivity plummets, another huge cost. And if the outage is caused by a cyber attack, as a major provider recently suffered, the costs escalate even further.
Enter Automated Failover & Redundancy
Given the high price, internet telecom providers have systems in place to minimize the risks. Much like IT providers automatically back up your data these days, a failover system automatically kicks in when a carrier issue is detected, sending calls through a secondary system till the issue is resolved. Redundancy is the use of multiple carriers so that if one has an outage, all calls can be moved to the other one. Failover cannot happen without carrier redundancy. The entire process is seamless to customers.
While uptime is numero uno, there are major cost and call quality advantages to having multiple carriers, as well. Depending on where you’re located and where most of your customers are, some carriers will be better than others. That’s why Commio, for example, offers 40+ carriers to add to your call routing profile. Instead of trying one carrier to complete a call, imagine when 40 try? (We succeed!)
If a provider with multiple carriers uses Least Cost Routing (LCR), a larger network may provide additional savings. In Commio’s case, Intelligent Call Routing also improves call quality along with delivery and redundancy. Some providers, like Commio, will even offer transparency into where your calls are traversing and give you the real-time ability to control which carriers are being utilized. So when Ma Bell (AT&T) has a bad day now, you can fix it in seconds, instead of waiting hours or days for a fix to be made.
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Positive customer experiences are critical to success, and redundancy is vital to staying connected. Most businesses can’t afford to lose tens of thousands per hour or aggravate their top customers trying to reach them, not to mention the lack of employee productivity.
On the plus side, utilizing a provider with multiple redundancies can offer better call quality and additional cost savings, along with more scalability, transparency, and control – delivering total peace of mind. There are a lot of bells and whistles that are nice to have, but redundancy is a must-have.
Not sure how your provider handles failover or redundancy? Talk to them today, then sleep better at night when you trust Commio with your communications.