Business Continuity in a Cellular World: Leveraging the WWAN
Most business owners expect their data and telecommunications networks to work during business hours, without a glitch. The reality, however, is that no wired connection can deliver 100% uptime. So what would happen when a company’s wired Internet connection fails at one or more locations while business is booming? The question isn't whether businesses will lose connectivity to the Internet, the question is how to protect the organization from loss and disruption when it does happen. Having business continuity in place mitigates the risks of lost revenue, productivity, and customer experience issues when outages occur.
Business continuity plans are not “one size fits all” and depend heavily on the size, geography, and functions of the business. For example, a business deploying a hosted IP PBX solution with unified communications across multiple sites would be impacted more severely by every second of downtime than one that relies solely on internet access for a few web apps. Regardless of the level of dependence, however, connectivity is critical and redundancy is imperative. A firm can choose its redundancies based on business needs and the technologies that are most critical to their operations.
Wireless WAN (WWAN) failover, also called 4G/LTE backup, can automatically provide the seamless access needed to conduct business efficiently and cost-effectively in the event of a primary data connection interruption. While terrestrial wireline-based alternatives like T1, DSL, or cable can certainly serve business continuity needs, these legacy technologies can be cost prohibitive and often do not meet the bandwidth requirements of some businesses. In addition, WWAN connections often remain active when wireline, POTS, or ISDN circuits, especially the “last mile” network, fail because of an accidental cut or natural disaster.
Deploying a wireless WAN business continuity solution requires some planning and assessment to determine if it is the right solution for the business. IT departments should pay particular attention to the following considerations before moving forward:
Critical Data and Communications. Critical network infrastructure, site/locations, applications, and processes that keep the business running must be identified. Once these are defined, redundancy can be deployed to protect them.
Hardware. A WWAN-enabled router that supports 3G/4G/LTE cellular connectivity and integrates seamlessly within the existing network infrastructure will need to be installed.
Security. Data security is vital in all networks and many businesses that handle sensitive data - in the case of health care providers and organizations that serve them - must comply with regulatory agencies. The business continuity solution must employ the same security measures as the primary network. This includes VPNs, cloud-based security solutions, network segmentation, etc.
Business continuity enables an organization’s business critical network functions like communications, internet access, point-of-sale, and applications to stay on-line and intact in the event of an outage or interruption. Capacity on today’s cellular networks can often provide the bandwidth needed to enable a business’s mission critical systems to continue operations until the primary network is restored. A thoughtful and cost effective business continuity plan should include WWAN cellular failover.