I’ve heard many heartfelt stories from the recent Hurricane Sandy mega storm which impacted people and organizations across the eastern seaboard and it was absolutely amazing to see how quickly people rallied together to bounce back. I was especially proud to see our own CDW team immediately step up and go above and beyond to support our east coast based coworkers and customers impacted by the storm. It was also very interesting to hear how some organizations were down and resorting to Disaster Recovery (DR) contingency plans for days, while others were able to maintain communication services and idle along until basic city services were restored.  As the dust begins to settle, Hurricane Sandy is a great reminder for all of us in IT to revisit DR strategy. In this post, I’m going to share some emerging DR strategies that organizations should consider adopting by bringing together Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) solutions with new Mobile, Cloud, and Social technologies.

The mobile internet age is upon us with over 1 billion smartphones in use today, a number that is expected to double by 2015.  This explosion of mobile internet connected devices is bringing with it new communication capabilities which should be a factor in any DR strategy rather than an afterthought. For the past decade, remote teleworkers have been a challenge for any organization and often the solution was a complex VPN setup to enable traditional IP-PBX phones while working remote. That’s still technically a great solution but today organizations can move to a much easier and scalable teleworker solution by implementing a BYOD strategy to leverage their coworker smartphones or tablets by running UC and collaboration applications such as Cisco Jabber on an iPhone or iPad. This enables remote workers to maintain feature rich UCC capabilities anytime and anywhere they have a reliable data connection through a private or public cloud communication service. It’s this combination of UCC, cloud and mobile technologies that opens door for new DR solutions that could be the difference between being left in the dark or keeping business moving forward during an event like Hurricane Sandy.

Hosted virtual meetings and distributed IP-PBX services are great ways to help organizations stay productive during a disaster or major outage. Over the past decade, most organizations seeking to maintain basic communication services during an outage have implemented some form of a private cloud strategy by decentralizing IP-PBX services across geographic locations. While this is an excellent strategy, many organizations in recent months have been moving to a hosted cloud strategy such as CDW’s Cloud Collaboration solution to offload the cost and overhead of maintaining a distributed communication platform.  This enables the ability to focus on the total collaboration user experience which delivers more effective communication and collaboration solutions. On the flip side, when employees cannot travel due to a DR event, virtual meetings, such as Cisco WebEx, becomes a crucial application, offering a feature rich mobile and remote collaborative user experience across major platforms such as PC, Mac, iOS, and Android. A quick virtual meeting could make the difference between closing a customer deal or keeping a project on task even during a major natural disaster.

It was interesting to see new phenomena pop up during the recovery, such as charging stations for smartphones along the streets of New York City and massive use of social media from individuals and organizations trying to stay connected during the outages.  Hurricane Sandy brings to light how many organizations are resorting to public unsecure social platforms to maintain communication and collaboration when email and phone services are down, which is great in a pinch but it leaves organizations exposed and limited. I’ve been speaking to many customers about Enterprise Social strategy over the past year. DR along with security and scalability are the top drivers fueling customers to ask how they can bring public social technology in-house. This is leading many organizations to take a serious look at WebEx Social which can be implemented in a public or private cloud and enables organizations to leverage the scale and security capabilities of an enterprise social platform while enhancing the overall total collaboration experience.

It’s time for organizations to begin thinking differently about their DR strategy by asking how to leverage mobile, cloud and social capabilities tied into an overall UCC solution strategy. The combination of these new technologies can help organizations get the message out and stay connected during an unexpected DR event by delivering effective, robust and scalable communication and collaboration solutions.

We’re holding a free webinar with IT Business Edge December 10th on this topic as well. Sign up here

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