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We had a new employee start a few months ago. It was his first time working somewhere that didn't require him to be chained to a desktop computer, so he had a few questions about the company-issued laptop he had received earlier in the day.
"What do I do with this when I leave the office?" he asked, referring to the laptop. "Should I leave it here or take it home with me?"
"Well, I don't think there's an official company policy, but most people take theirs home," I responded. "You probably should too."
For most people, the discussion would end here. But because I'm me, it didn't.
I felt compelled to go on. "I mean, I don't think anyone has ever had something stolen at the office, but it's definitely a possibility." Then I was on a roll. "Or you might need to work from home unexpectedly, or there could be a bad storm that prevents you from getting the office -- or, who knows, the building could be shut down due to a power outage!"
Pausing to notice his facial expression, I mentally pumped the brakes. Sure, I could suggest plenty more disaster scenarios, but I realized it was time to shut up before this poor guy started asking how soon he could request a transfer to get away from a neurotic coworker. (I sometimes wonder if I went into the wrong business and missed what's apparently my true calling -- disaster preparedness.)
Earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks, landslides, blizzards, wildfires, medical quarantines and plane crashes -- we all know at an intellectual level that anyone is vulnerable to having their lives (and jobs) uprooted by one of these crises occurring nearby, but human nature leads many of us to believe these things only happen to other people.
Due to the nature of their jobs and the focus on constant uptime, IT professionals tend to be more cognizant of how a disaster can affect an enterprise. It doesn't take an epic catastrophe to disrupt a business either. Ruptured water mains, electrical fires and blackouts can all make productivity come to a standstill.
Some enterprises prepare for this by hosting core applications in a less vulnerable location -- consider the number of businesses in New York City that moved their data centers to New Jersey after 9/11. But if your telephony and unified communications (UC) infrastructure is still located on premises during a disaster, that means users have lost access to voice, collaboration, messaging and video conferencing services.
When users can't communicate, they can't work. Call centers are paralyzed. Team members are isolated. Employees scramble to find each other's personal cellphone numbers and email addresses.
As we explore in the cover story in this issue of Network Evolution (Cloud UC benefits extend to disaster recovery), there's a solution to the problem that doesn't involve spending millions on maintaining a hot site. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) has disaster recovery and business continuity plans essentially built into it. If it becomes dangerous or impossible for users to come to the office, UCaaS enables them to regain access to the UC tools they use every day as long as they're somewhere with Internet access.
Outside the realm of disaster, in this issue we also look at the career outlook in networking and whether it's still possible to simply be a network engineer (Will IT generalists replace network engineering jobs?). We also dive into how network management and big data are coming together in the field of advanced operations analytics (Network analytics 2.0: Say hello to advanced operations analytics). Be sure to also check out this edition of "The Subnet," in which one networking pro shares how he's finally gotten people to stop blaming the network when applications slow down (When users say the network is slow, APM tools can prove them wrong).
Augment your disaster recovery plans with UC
Video conferencing plays a key role in disaster recovery communications
Learn about the five benefits UCaaS has over on-prem UC
Dig Deeper on Unified Communications Architecture and Service Models