Internet network outage – What to do next?

Access to the Internet can and does go down sometimes. AND, this can have a major impact on your business.

What, if any, measures have you taken to minimize that impact?

An internet network outage may not be a major catastrophe but, for businesses, it can be very costly. Both in time and money
An internet network outage may not be a major catastrophe but, for businesses, it can be very costly. Both in time and money!

Internet network outages do happen!

Here are just a few examples of recent internet outages that made news headlines:

As outlined in these articles, many factors can cause an internet outages. Certain aspects are under our control whereas others, we can’t do much about.

A few days ago, It was Bell Canada and their affiliates’ turn to run into problems and, as we can see here, it wasn’t the first time! Slowly but surely, internet services (over fiber) went down in a number of areas. At first, a number of people thought it was only the residential services that went down but, as it turns out, everyone’s internet service (over fiber) was down. Companies as well as home services were affected.

The problems started in Ontario, a few days later, Quebec was affected and like a domino effect, other provinces on Canada Eastern coast followed suit. In some cases, the problem lasted for a few hours whereas, in other cases, it lasted for a couple of days. Since hurricane Dorian did not hit Canada with anywhere near the devastating force it had in other places, it’s fair to says the cause of the problem was due to probably something else

Services affected

Obviously, for both individuals as well as companies, the internet being down meant no one in the affected areas could go on the net, but it didn’t stop there. It also meant that

  • IP television services didn’t work
  • Home users as well as companies who use voice over IP (VoIP) phone services had no service.
  • Email services were down
  • Businesses relying on the Internet to access either remote corporate servers or cloud services, were unable to do their work.

Impact

Home users

Although I’m sure some would disagree, for home based users, not being able to surf the net was an inconvenience more than anything else. Again, for home users using VoIP, since most people now have a cellular phone, not having any internet was more of an inconvenience than anything else.

Businesses

However, when it comes to businesses, having no phone services, no email service and no access to the cloud (or remote corporate servers, databases, etc…) represents a major problem. Why? Simple:

  • Employees, who’s salary you still need to pay, can’t do their work.
  • Purchase orders can’t be sent out on schedule. No matter how good a customer you are to them, some suppliers won’t ship without a hard copy purchase order on hand.
    • This means delayed deliveries to your customers. Something customers don’t like and seldom forget or forgive.
    • Delayed customer deliveries affects a business’ reputation which in turn can cause a business to lose customers. Losing customers equals lost revenues
  • Customer invoices can’t be sent out on time.
    • Sending customer invoices at a later date “may” result in customers paying late.
  • Data located on remote servers can’t be accessed.
  • Data being generated locally but processed remotely can’t be sent out.
  • Stores can’t do any transactions other than cash ones.
  • Etc…

All this to say that, when it comes to businesses that do not have the means to put in place redundant Internet links, an Internet network outage has severe consequences. Both in time and money!

An internet outage often means CASH only. No credit nor ATM card transaction can be processed
An internet outage often means CASH only. No credit nor ATM card transaction can be processed. This inevitably results in significant financial losses for merchants!

Protection measures

Disaster recovery plan (DRP)

Although an Internet network outage is by no means what one would consider a major disaster, when it comes to businesses, it is one. It is one because operations are affected and because of that, a financial impact ensues. Having a disaster recovery plan (DRP) in place provides you with protection measures that enables you to stay operational. In short, it’s an insurance.

Legacy technology to the rescue

Today’s technology offer’s definite advantages to everyone but, there’s something to be said for old technology. It’s robust, tested and proven.

Just like everyone else without service, Data Telcom was affected by the Internet network outage but, we were lucky and prepared for eventualities such as the one that occurred.

Analog technology still has a role to play

We still have standard analog land lines in place. These came in very handy and we were able to go on operating.

  • Our phone system was up and running over analog lines.
  • Since our computer systems are local and our Wi-Fi network wasn’t affected by the outage, we printed our purchase orders as well as our customer invoices and, sent them out using our standard analog fax machine.

It goes without saying that we were not running at full capacity. We obviously couldn’t communicate with our customers, who rely solely on Internet technologies. But still. Unlike so many other small businesses, good old fashion analog technologies enable us to somewhat mitigate the problem and the financial impact it caused to so many.

Analog may be an old technology but, it's tried, tested and true. It can still play a role in today's world
Analog may be an old technology BUT, it's tried, tested and true. It can still play a role in today's world.

In conclusion

The one thing all businesses can learn from this ordeal is that having a disaster recovery plan (DRP) in place pays off. Bottom line, it’s insurance that protects you in cases like this. You may never need it but, when you do, it pays for itself!

Our advice to any and all business owners is simple, review your existing disaster recovery plan (DRP). If you do not have one or it’s not adequate, take the necessary steps to put in place the means to avoid situations, where your daily operations and financial health are affected. Most of all do not simply look at the cost involved in deploying a DRP. If you do, chances are you’ll be overwhelmed and won’t deploy anything that’s needed.

This being said just consider that in the end, the cost of deploying a disaster recovery plan (DRP) that meets your most basic business needs, is more than likely going to be lower than the hit you would take by not having one. As stated earlier, having a backup plan in place provides you with insurance that enables your business to keep on operating.

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