When critical personnel are miles away from any kind of support or assistance, they need a communications system that can operate independently and handle tough conditions. Newer satellite-based communications systems make this possible, but those systems must be designed to withstand the harsh environments often found in remote locations. They must be installed and maintained by providers with the technical skill and experience to ensure maximum reliability.
The sophisticated technology of today’s broadband VSAT (very small aperture terminal) platforms requires providers with the expertise to design an efficient network and effectively integrate it with existing legacy systems. Your service provider also should be experienced in the deployment of Internet protocol (IP) and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technologies – the new standard in enterprise-class communications.
IP over satellite is growing in popularity as a business continuity choice because it can deliver high quality voice and data communications more efficiently and more cost-effectively than traditional satellite telephony. The delivery of both voice and data as part of the same network creates cost savings, but the true advantage of IP lies in the increased number of services it makes possible. Voice calling, corporate data access, e-mail, Internet, video conferencing and video streaming are all available through a single satellite IP connection.
With an impending storm or other event that provides at least some advanced warning, early transmission of important files can provide backup if remote site systems are damaged. Service providers should also offer disaster recovery backup capabilities based at a secure network operations center (NOC). With the network based at the NOC, service can be maintained and restored quickly in the event that the remote site is blacked out.
A well-designed NOC also allows all moves/adds/changes, as well as the dynamic addition of more bandwidth, to be provisioned remotely. This increases overall efficiency and eliminates the need to send personnel into the field for on-site configuration. Remote provisioning makes possible relatively fast changes to the network, helping the remote sites to react quickly in the event of a storm or other disaster.
As business continuity concerns grow, IP networks will continue to advance to meet the needs of remote sites. Some satellite service providers already are taking advantage of the “plug-and-play” capability of IP and MPLS networking.
People working or visiting at remote facilities may come and go with great frequency. With a plug-and-play service, a virtual private network (VPN) is created and provisioned from the NOC. When personnel leave one site, the network goes with them, making their IP addresses and even VoIP telephone numbers available within minutes of arriving at the new site. The network recognizes users and settings, giving the user in the field transparent portability across any location in the network.
This is good news for business continuity applications. If a team is forced to leave a site because of an approaching storm, or if a site has been damaged during a disaster, the crew would be able to change sites and be up-and-running almost immediately at the new location, experiencing little to no downtime.
Businesses with remote sites, be they on water or land, are beginning to recognize the benefits of IP communications provided via satellite. While repairing traditional communications systems destroyed by the elements can be a lengthy, difficult process, satellite systems require little on-site infrastructure, making them quick to install and provision. They promote business continuity in ways traditional systems cannot. The key is selecting the right satellite communications provider. A good service provider is stable and reliable, offers an advanced array of services and possesses the technical prowess and experience with IP networking to inspire confidence.
David Myers is vice president of marketing for CapRock Communications, which provides communication services to extreme locations. CapRock is the premier provider of satellite connectivity services to industries with remote operations. Myers is responsible for developing and managing a portfolio of satellite communications services.