Network Resilience – why this Matters for Cloud VoIP

Posted on: 2017-05-23 | Categories:VoIP Services

With the growing prevalence of mobile and cloud computing, the network is becoming more important than ever before. The latest smart phones or computers can’t do much if they aren’t connected to the Internet. Many enterprise tools are migrating to the cloud and adopting new business models. When everything from accounting software to phone services are delivered over the network, it becomes the glue holding everything together. So it is vital that an organization should have a network that is robust, secure and resilient.

So what does network resilience mean and why is it important for cloud VoIP? Most people are aware that Internet speeds, bandwidth and optimization are crucial to get the most out of hosted VoIP services but network resilience is not as well known. It is also not well understood by non technical personnel like managers.

So let’s take a look at what resilience means in the context of a network. The common definition of resilience is the ability to recover from a breakdown, change or disruption of service. Put another way, how quickly can a system resume normal business operations after the failure has been resolved? Suppose loss of power has knocked out your data connections. How quickly can the network recover from such a situation and resume normal services?

Resilience is not just about redundancy, backup and recovery or disaster management. All these aspects are needed for developing a resilient network but a redundant system doesn’t necessarily make for a resilient one.

Resilience versus Redundancy

Redundancy means duplicating certain elements in a system so that alternative channels or paths are available in case one part fails. In a network, this might mean duplicating physical equipment like routers, cables and having internet connections from 2 providers etc. But does all this make your network resilient as well? The answer is no.

Imagine a business has 2 separate data connections for network redundancy. The capacity of each connection is 200 Mbps. Now the company would naturally want to utilize both connections to the fullest extent. Why keep paying for a connection that is lying idle 95% of the time right? Let’s assume normal traffic stays around 325 Mbps.

Now when one connection fails, the remaining 200 Mbps line has to manage normal traffic. Unfortunately we can see it cannot. What we have here is a redundant network (it can continue to work if one part fails) but it really cannot handle normal operations. The network is not resilient at all.

Why is Network Resilience Important for Cloud VoIP?

Hosted VoIP services depend largely on the quality of networks. Both the VoIP provider and your business should have resilient networks. in case of failure, the network should be able to bounce back quickly. Voice communication is a critical business function, even in today’s world. For many industries, the phones are more important than online channels like a website or Facebook page. Imagine the losses and chaos if your phones don’t work for a few hours in the middle of the week?

Like we saw in the earlier example, network resilience is more than backup or redundancy. Your network may experience a disruption for any number of reasons. What matters is how quickly you can get it back up, with or without resolving the cause of failure. Unfortunately many companies neglect resilience when designing and building the network.

There are a few reasons for this. Designing a resilient network is expensive and time consuming. Since the concept is not well known among business managers, they hesitate to spend limited financial resources on it. Not many companies have the necessary expertise to deploy such a network either. You have to design the network to accommodate the requirements of the business in mind. Resilience is not a simple tool or switch you can add to the network later on.

Benefits of a Resilient Network

A resilient network pays itself off over the long term. It can save you thousands of dollars in revenue when something brings down your network. The cause of failure can be anything from a natural disaster or a software glitch to a hardware malfunction. Sometimes businesses separate voice data and put it on a separate network from other data. At the very least, the network which carries voice should be resilient.

Hosted VoIP is real time communication. Even a few tenths of a second delay can make conversations difficult with choppy audio or missing words. You can easily deal with a slow website or emails that reach a few seconds slower. In many cases, you never even notice. But such delays have a larger impact on voice data. A resilient network should be able to recover from small failures quickly, thus protecting your phones from experiencing issues. So make sure you have a resilient network before switching over to hosted VoIP. It will save you trouble down the line!