Did you every think that your company would be physically unavailable, the building not accessible and the phone system unmanned? The issue of business continuity and disaster recovery is on your 'to do' list and hopefully you can get to it before it gets to you. Recently, we had the experience of having to resuscitate a client from near death when their physical facility became unavailable. Clearly, the phone system was very high on the list of "must have" operational now.
Here is the solution we employed with amazing results. First, we signed in and created a brand new account at the Amazon EC2 cloud offering. This itself was an amazing experience. Once your account is open, which can take a couple of hours if you do not already have an Amazon account (is that possible?), you can create and access a server with the OS of your choice within minutes. We already had an Amazon account so adding the AWS functionality took less than 30 minutes. We then created a Microsoft 2008 SP2 32 Bit Server and provision RDP access in less time than it is taking to tell this story. The AWS service provisions and assigns a DNS public IP address, creates a security instance ('firewall") and candidly, that took more time to make operational then it took to build an "instance" of our Windows based HQ server!
Once the sever was provisioned, we were able to make "firewall" changes to meet our security requirements. This is all accomplished through the AWS management console. Then the fun started, we downloaded our favorite PBX system! All of this is taking place in the cloud and under a time constraint, but we were able to provision our PBX and get in a configuration mode very quickly. Using our preexisting ITSP SIP account we were able to provision a multi-channel SIP "peer", obtain a DID number and have dial tone in and out of the system within 15 minutes!
From then on it became near Childs play and basically the same as any other deployment. We brought up the most urgent User profiles first, established remote call forwarding and even enabled several SIP softphones. We were able to get the phone company to call forward the clients main BTN to the newly provisioned DID number and we had this client back to worrying about business issues that had nothing to do with phone service pronto quick. The entire process from account setup, to first phone call took two and a half hours to commission!
Clearly, not the carefully conceived business continuity and disaster recovery plan that should have been in place, but a success story none the less. We keep a pre-paid ITSP account available at all times which enables us to bring up 4 channel SIP peers in a heart beat. It seems we never know when we are going to need a new DID and Peer. The Amazon AWS is mind boggling in terms of what you can do and you are billed on a metered basis. Currently they have a program that bundles some 750 hours of usage a month for free. They also have some canned AMI's (Amazon Machine Images) that cost literally penny's an hour to operate.
Not that we needed another reason to have a software based VOIP iPBX but this is an example of just how powerful these tools can be to create and deliver viable telecommunications solutions on demand! AskDrVoIP and we will provide you the list of software solutions we used to accomplish this emergency deployment and we are planning to recreate the entire experience for a another DrVoIP video cheat sheet.