Canadian winters are a beast.

Sure, we may have winter to thank for Saturday pond-hockey, but our harsh conditions can also lead to serious business disruption for the unprepared – winter is a risk we take every year. Take, for instance, the recent ice storms in New Brunswick. They’ve found themselves in the middle of the second-most widespread power outages in their history, with more than 130,000 without power — that’s nearly 33% of their customers.

It reminds me of a situation a customer of ours ran into a few years ago. There was a major ice storm in the Toronto area, and electricity was knocked out. Our customer, a single-office investment and trading firm, were in an area that was seriously affected by the outage and their lines were down for the entire day. With all their infrastructure in one room, they simply went offline until the electrical company was able to restore power. Needless to say, that’s the sort of thing that really hurts the bottom line. Staff could come in and out of the office, working all day, but the phone didn’t ring once.

Imagine all those customers trying to call, but they can’t — they can’t place a single trade.  Of course, an awful lot of money was lost in one day, and their business leaders reached out to us to help them mitigate their risk and see that it didn’t happen again. So how do you protect your business from the moods of Mother Nature? How can you de-risk without a major overhaul? Let’s talk about three types of customers: the contracted, the cautious, and the customer-focused.

1. The Contracted but Curious. 

Possibly the largest group are small to midsize companies locked into an existing hardware contract. They’ll want the customer experience benefits and risk-reduction that a Cloud layer can provide but can’t really take the step to overhaul what they have immediately.

2. The Cautiously Curious. 

Let’s face it. Organizations struggle with the financial considerations of building a secondary data center and replicating all their applications and their stat to the cloud, whether they’re just not prepared or haven’t built the financial justification to do so, it can seem a daunting task. They’re not wrong. Maybe they haven’t seen it as necessary, perhaps they’re not in eCommerce and don’t see themselves as being dependent on that sort of technology. They haven’t looked at de-risking that part of their business because they didn’t imagine it to be their business at all! They want to validate the quality and experience beforehand – whether they’re nervous about committing or there are just a large number of stakeholders involved in decision-making, no one person is willing to swing the gavel and make the call. In order to get buy-in, they have to test it and get exposed to it, and make sure there’s a consensus.

3. The Customer-focused. 

Like our Investment Firm friends, the focus here is on simply staying online for the customer and not missing a call or a deal. The goal here is nothing short of zero-downtime nirvana.

For a lot of businesses looking to transition, or even just “dip a toe in the water” as it were, we take what’s called a Hybrid-Cloud approach, which gives them the option of receiving the benefits and stability of a cloud or IP solution without abandoning their current setup. What is it? What is a hybrid-Cloud solution?

UC On-Prem. 

In this hybrid approach to Cloud and On-Prem we’ll leave the existing PSTN circuitry or phone lines connected to the system. At the same time, you set up your on-premises platform to be essentially bilingual—fully able to connect to an IP or Cloud system as well as that existing switch circuit cloud or existing analog lines, being able to be on both SIP and on traditional legacy lines at the same time.

Twin System. 

Another definition of hybrid is more like supporting or duplicating your existing system from a cloud perspective, maybe even offsite on a different electrical grid.  Here we’ll focus on the capability for your devices and your users to connect to a cloud brain or server and connect to an on-prem server in case of a failure or as a secondary or is a backup. If something happens to the cloud, you have capability to login and work locally in the event that the internet is down. If Mother Nature rages and the phone lines are down, the Cloud is still alive and well.

In all likelihood, your exact solution will differ from anyone else’s. But if there’s one thing to learn from this winter — no snowflake is so unique that it can’t be improved on, and maybe the Hybrid is exactly the sort of thing that will help you protect your business from Lady Winter.

Frank is the Director of Sales & Technology of BrantTel Networks, a Canadian Technology Integrator and Cloud Solution Provider helping businesses undergo a digital transformation to help them succeed. A Technology Enthusiast who has always been intrigued by how technology powers transformation & how it evolves the way we engage. Also a proud husband & father.