For example, notification companies often offer customers the use of all of a provider’s telephony ports for delivery of important information via telephony transmission at no charge. Because customers have been faced with pressing fiscal concerns, they have been quick to jump on this option without fully understanding the implications this could have on their overall disaster communication plan.
The success or failure of a notification is based on the ability to deliver the message to the recipient in the required period of time. In the event of an IT, natural or man-made disaster, a failed notification delivery could mean devastating consequences for the business continuity of a company. Telephony notifications can be delivered via dedicated, reserved, shared, and unlimited usage ports, and the method of delivery chosen often plays a role in whether a company’s vital information reaches its designated recipient. Thus, understanding important message delivery via telephony is a critical first step in deciding what infrastructure requirements are necessary to support your business notification needs.
Let’s begin by explaining each type of telephony port:
A dedicated port is one used solely by the customer who has procured it. When customers require absolute delivery of imperative information, the only way to guarantee notifications are sent out within a specified timeframe is through utilization of a dedicated telephony port. Due to lack of any other competing notifications that can be issued through a dedicated port, and the need for a notification provider to purchase and service them, these ports are the most expensive method for implementing telephony service.
Shared ports are used by a limited number of a notification provider’s customers, on an “as-needed” basis. In this configuration, a customer licenses a specific number of ports it feels will sufficiently cover its notification requirements, then “shares” these ports with other companies as a cost-saving measure. Although there is a chance two companies that share the same port may need it for delivery of a message at the same time, which could delay its receipt, in most cases, the savings compared to other configurations greatly outweigh the risk.
For example, company A, company B, and company C all share a single port. Each time the three businesses send a notification, each will has equal access to the telephony port. If only one company is using it, that business will have full access during its time of requirement. If two businesses are trying to send a notification at the same time, the system will alternate sending notifications between one company and another. If all three users are sending a notification, the system would then poll across the three before going back to the first. In these examples, if the notifications are the same length, the time required to complete a notification would double for the first company, triple for the second company, and so on.
Furthermore, when the length of a notification differs, the equation also changes. If two companies are sharing a port and both are accessing it simultaneously – one sending a notification at a short length and the other company a message double in size – the company with the smaller notification would require three times as long to send its transmission. Thus, going with a shared telephony configuration is ideal only for organizations that do not require immediate notification delivery on a regular basis.
Thirdly, a reserved configuration is essentially a shared port that doubles as a dedicated port, when one customer reserves it for a notification. During most hours, the shared port is used by all the companies that share it, until a reserved port customer has a notification. Then, the use of this port is given exclusively to the reserved port user until the notification is completed. The only disadvantage to this reserved notification is that the system must complete the current notification being sent before it relinquishes control to the reserved user. However, an advantage to the reserved configuration is that the company reserving it does not bear the fiscal burden a dedicated port, but instead shares it with other reserved and shared users.
Finally, an unlimited port is shared across an entire user population. In this scenario, every company has equal access to all ports in the system. Unlimited ports are similar to shared ports in that each customer has an equal chance of getting control, the only difference being the number of people that can access a port is limitless. Unlimited use at “no charge to the customer” is what some notification companies have been offering to help complete a sale of service. While this type of free service might be appealing, unlimited port configurations should only be appealing to companies that do not plan on using a notification system for emergencies or routine calls. If you are a company considering an unlimited port configuration for dissemination of emergency notifications, free usage of an unlimited port might come at the expense of your urgent message going undelivered. Thus, it is important to be wary of vendors claiming to have “thousands of customers with millions of users” while also offering free usage of their infrastructure to all.
Aside from knowing – and understanding – the difference between all the telephony port configurations and which is right for your notification needs, it is also important to note that vendors offering shared, reserved, or dedicated ports can stress-test their system for potential customers and demonstrate a worst-case scenario performance. Notification companies only offering unlimited port usage cannot stress-test their systems.
Further, it is critical to consider that since unlimited port usage is not stress-tested for potential users, once you sign up for such a configuration, urgent messages may go undelivered in the event of a crisis. The weight of peace of mind and cost effective measures must be balanced with the fiscal impact your organization will shoulder.
Frank Mahdavi is chief strategy officer for MIR3 Inc, a leading intelligent notification provider. Mahdavi’s complete insight and understanding of market trends, including changes, advancements, growing vertical markets and technology partnerships, make him one of the notification industry’s leading strategic developers. He may be reached at email@example.com.
"Appeared in DRJ's Summer 2008 Issue"