It can happen any time. And these days, it happens too often. Maybe it’s a hurricane tearing down and overloading infrastructure. Or a wildfire. Or the third “thousand-year-flood in a row.” Maybe it’s just a construction crew with a backhoe.
Whatever the cause, your business connectivity flatlines, cutting off your organization from the rest of the world. Your on-site employees can’t access the cloud apps they need to run your operations and serve your customers. But the cost to your business is much higher than that, because the severed connection works in both directions. Suppliers can’t reach your intranet to validate inventory and fill orders, remote employees can’t access databases to do their jobs and customers can’t reach you for help.
All in, the cost of the outage is far greater than direct costs of idle employees. It’s costing you customers and brand reputation, making distributors afraid to recommend you going forward, and leaving you disadvantaged to competitors that are simply open and reachable at a time when your company is suffering an outage.
Fortunately, this hypothetical doesn’t have to be your future. New solutions can deliver affordable business continuity options to keep your operations running and competitors at bay. In fact, since few companies factor inbound continuity into their own business continuity plans, you can be in a stronger position than your competitors when an outage takes down an entire region.
New Tech for a New Age of Business Disruption Threats
The world is several years into meteoric adoption rates for SD-WAN, and there are no signs of uptake slowing down anytime soon. That’s for good reason, since SD-WAN can help businesses on the security, financial, operating and other fronts. Of course, the big “other” in “other fronts” is business continuity, where SD-WAN’s role in failover protection is critical to business continuity planning.
The mantra “not all SD-WAN solutions are created equal” has become an almost cliché statement for providers with leading-edge SD-WAN solutions. But that doesn’t make it any less true. SD-WAN flexibility is vital, not just for optimizing current resources and ensuring that your failover solution actually work when you need them to, but in areas that many businesses overlook in their business continuity and disaster recovery planning—inbound failover.
Without inbound continuity, inbound traffic is limited to one connection. This means if the primary circuit drops, external sources can’t reach your site or VPN.
Cloud Dependence is Raising Redundancy Awareness
Every day’s a cloudy day for today’s businesses, and that’s a good thing. Cloud services have revolutionized business operations, delivering redundancy, always-updated solutions, scalability and, of course, the OpEx vs CapEX benefits that finance departments love. Extra attention to business continuity – particularly on the network side – has accompanied that adoption—and for good reason.
Way back in the olden days (you know, like, three years ago), when a company’s Internet connections went down, it was an inconvenience to the operation, but since mission-critical software was run on desktops or from on-premise servers, most company operations could continue. In today’s cloud-centric world, where even your telephone solution is an app, downtime can be devastatingly costly. So, businesses large and small have started to pay attention to terms that only their IT departments and people who wore pocket protectors in school previously cared about (or even knew), like “network redundancy,” “failover” and “business continuity.” It’s true…we’re all nerds now.
Inbound Failover and Business Continuity Matters, Too
But one area that’s often overlooked by today’s businesses—sometimes with catastrophic consequences – is inbound failover. With inbound continuity, static public IPs are provided between the core network and your gateway to support inbound failover for remote users and web traffic.
The right providers, with the right solutions can protect you from the consequences of inbound failure and protect you from costly outages when your company is hosting websites or applications that customers and employees rely on. Examples include:
- Web traffic
- E-commerce transactions
- Remote employees
- Supplier intranet access
- Customer intranet access
Wireless Connectivity Gives Inbound Continuity Vital Diversification
Wireless connectivity options like GeoLinks ClearFiber™ offer added diversification protection that’s more resistant to construction accidents and natural disaster outages. In fact, many business and government offices rely on fixed-wireless solutions, which are better than today’s traditional fiber solutions, and then back those solutions with 4G LTE failover protection, for reliable, secure connectivity that, when paired with the right SD-WAN solution, can deliver inbound failover as well.
Military-grade encryption, greater redundancy, lower costs and failover for your inbound, not just your outbound, connections all add up to a solution that’s not just best-in-class, but smart business as well. So, when that fire, flood or backhoe takes all your wireline continuity options, your business avoids that connectivity flatline altogether, saving you productivity, reputation and your customers to boot.
Ready to Disaster-Proof Your Connection with Inbound Continuity?
Contact Us Today!
California-based telecommunications provider GeoLinks, has joined the Federal Communications Commission’s pledge to “Keep Americans Connected” during the coronavirus outbreak. The formal joining of the pledge is a vow from the company to ensure that its customers remain connected to vital information infrastructure during these uncertain times.
The Keep Americans Connected Pledge reads as follows:
Given the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on American society, GeoLinks pledges for the next 60 days to:
(1) not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;
(2) waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and
(3) open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.
“When my cousin (Chief Technical Officer, Ryan Hauf) and I founded GeoLinks in 2011, it was our mission to improve people’s lives by connecting them to information,” said CEO, Skyler Ditchfield. “We continue to stand behind that mission today and we are dedicated to making sure that our customers remain connected during this challenge.”
GeoLinks is also taking additional steps to ensure that its residential customers have access to enhanced levels of service by increasing speeds for customers who are working remotely due to social distancing guidelines, when possible.
In a news release, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai commended businesses such as GeoLinks for taking these additional steps. “I applaud those companies that have already taken the Keep Americans Connected Pledge” said Chairman Pai. “They are stepping up to the plate and taking critical steps that will make it easier for Americans to stay connected during this pandemic and maintain much-needed social distancing. I urge other companies to join them. This may be a difficult time for our nation, but if we all work together, I am confident that we can rise to the challenge.”
“As leaders in the business community, it is our duty to set the right tone,” concluded Ditchfield. “By showing that we are committed to helping our community, we can show the world how to make it through this difficult time, by working together.”
How to Prepare Your IT for Wildfires in California
Wildfires in California are a serious concern for any business. They present both a danger to the people working at your organization and to your operations as a whole. Many businesses create plans for the former concern, which is, of course, the most important. However, the latter, continuing operations during and after a wildfire, can be overlooked, especially concerning IT. Below are some tips on creating an IT disaster plan for California wildfires.
1) Analyze Your Vulnerabilities
Consider how your information technology would be affected by a natural disaster. For example, do you have server hardware on-site in your main office? Do you rely on Internet connectivity to work? If you have IT resources outside of your headquarters, where are they located?
Understanding your vulnerabilities is essential to creating an IT disaster management plan. By thinking through what would happen if your physical location(s) were shut down, you can prepare your business for lasting operations during and after a wildfire.
Keep in mind that IT disaster planning doesn’t just revolve around safeguarding computers and data. More important are the essential personnel who help keep your IT infrastructure running. Hopefully, you already have a plan in place to ensure the safety of your staff. If you don’t, that should be your number one priority.
Once you have planned for your team’s safety, consider how they will resume work during and after the disaster. Will they need to connect remotely? If so, how will you enable them to do so?
2) Set Priorities
In the event of a disaster, there are scenarios that may prohibit your company from immediately resuming full operations. To determine what business elements are most important to get up and running again quickly, set and communicate priorities beforehand.
For example, perhaps the top priority is to get everyone connected to your network and each other again. Or it may be to ensure your proprietary data is both secured and accessible.
Understanding these priorities will help you to create your IT disaster prevention and disaster recovery plan. It will also help your team members to maintain clarity in the event that things don’t go exactly as planned. They can make decisions on the fly more easily when they have pre-determined goals.
3) Plan Redundancy
One of the most important elements of any IT disaster management plan is redundancy. IT resources can become unavailable in the event of a disaster. This can include hardware hosted at your place of business, overall network infrastructure, off-site resources, and more.
For example, if your business currently uses a terrestrial-based Internet connection, you may find yourself disconnected in the event an earthquake or wildfire damages nearby network infrastructure. Unfortunately, repairing damage can take a long time depending on the extent of the destruction. A great solution to avoid this vulnerability is to have two Internet circuits, a fiber optic connection (terrestrial) and a fixed wireless circuit (air), that issues automatic failover via a SD-WAN device in the event one experiences an outage. Having duel Internet circuits also ensures a business’s hosted VoIP connections remain active during a wildfire.
All in all, establishing IT redundancy ensures business continuity in the case of a wildfire or other natural disaster.
4) Plan for Data Continuity
No matter what business you are in, data is important. Perhaps your business is quite literally based on collecting and analyzing data. Perhaps you use customer information to make critical marketing decisions. Regardless of how you use the data, having access to critical business information is vital.
If you let it be a vulnerability, you may find your bottom line significantly impacted when a wildfire hits California.
Thus, cloud-based data back-ups are an absolute must for any business. If your business isn’t currently leveraging the cloud, it is time to get started. Additionally, you should have at least one back up drive located off-site. Issuing nightly backups of your key data is also strongly encouraged.
5) Evaluate Your Insurance
For many businesses, IT resources represent a significant investment. You need the proper insurance coverage to ensure that you can reestablish your operations promptly without risking your cash flow. This is especially true for California businesses given the state’s frequency of catastrophic events including wildfires and earthquakes.
Policies such as business interruption, loss of use, and extended coverage are worth significant considerations for any CA-based business. Insurance should be a component of every business’s IT disaster plan.
Getting Ready for the Next Wildfire
Whether you are ready or not, you may be affected by a wildfire in the very near future. It is best to have a plan in place so you’re prepared to handle the situation. Having a strong IT disaster management plan can make all the difference in the world.
Finding the right resources, such as GeoLinks’ GeoLit Bundle, will help you ensure your business continues operations even after a disaster.
5 Disaster Prevention Tips to Help California Businesses Better Prepare for Natural Disasters
Natural disasters can be both unpredictable and unavoidable. From loss of structure, habitat, property, and life, the associated damage can be unthinkable.
For businesses, natural disasters can prove detrimental in many different ways. From preventing staff from making it into work, to facility power loss halting operations, to IT crashes causing critical data loss, and much more, there really is only one all-encompassing way a business can endure a natural disaster – plan ahead.
With the state of California now experiencing a new year-round fire season, in addition to recently braving the two largest earthquakes to hit the state in twenty years, it’s more important than ever for companies to have a concrete disaster prevention plan.
Here are 5 disaster prevention tips that can help California businesses better prepare for natural disasters.
1. Plan Safety First
To protect your business, first protect your employees and clients. For any brick and mortar business, it’s essential that staff know how to physically respond during a disaster. From practicing evacuation routes, to knowing who to call for what emergency, to having life-saving supplies available on site, to knowing where backup generators or susceptible gas lines are located – the number one rule in disaster prevention planning should always be safety first.
While business owners may have these items personally available, it’s critical this information is both shared and available to any and all staff on site.
2. Get and Understand Your Insurance
When was the last time you looked thoroughly into your company’s insurance policy? Do you know what aspects of your business are covered in lieu of a natural disaster? Have you calculated if this coverage is even close to enough to keep your company afloat in the aftermath?
Investing in adequate insurance coverage is imperative in preparing for natural disasters. Aside from insuring your physical business property, with California’s frequency of catastrophic events, further researching business interruption, loss of use, and extended coverage packages are worth serious consideration.
Do you know how much downtime can cost your business? Learn more by checking out our “The Cost of Internet Downtime” Infographic.
3. Communicate Business Critical Priorities
In the event of a disaster, does your team fully understand what your business-critical priorities are? Do you? For example, is your first priority to communicate with your customers? If you’re a liquor store, is it to save all your unbroken inventory? Perhaps a hotel places top priority on evacuating all staff and guests rather than securing cash drawers; do new employees know this?
Whatever a company’s priorities are, it’s crucial to have them not only documented but also communicated company-wide. Once priorities are established and well-known, businesses should create an associated action plan of how to clearly execute in a variety of natural disasters and emergency situations.
4. Get Redundant
Most all businesses these days require some sort of access to both a power source and the Internet. Thus, what happens if a fire knocks out your building’s power and literally destroys your terrestrial fiber line? Can you still conduct business as usual? Well, if not prepared, the answer is likely no. In fact, it might take a while – even months – to get reconnected and operational depending on the damage. This unfavorable situation, however, is avoidable.
How? Get redundant – or in other words – have “backups on deck”. Get a power generator (or 2), and upgrade your internal network. A truly redundant Business network should integrate both air and ground technologies, such as a fixed wireless and fiber circuit. This prevents a single point of failure from potentially wiping out both circuits running through the same conduit. In the event of a full network outage, if you bundle in an SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide-Area Network) device, it can trigger backup failover automatically.
5. Protect Your Data
Natural disasters have the power to destroy office networks, online systems, hard drives, and really any physical source responsible for storing critical business information. Thus, tip number five – protect your data.
If able, back up data nightly to both dependable hard drives (at least one housed off site) and to the cloud. If your company hasn’t already began to migrate business records to the cloud, it’s time to get up – literally – and onramp. Learn more about Cloud On-ramping here.
Ultimately, it’s time for California business owners to shift from a disaster recovery to a disaster prevention mindset. Natural disasters will continue to be inevitable – whether your business survives and thrives, however, depends entirely on what you strategically plan and prepare for.
For further disaster prevention tips read: “Disaster Recovery Plan – The Only Way to Ensure Business Continuity”.
To learn more about GeoLinks GeoLit Disaster Prevention Bundle, call and talk to one of the GeoLinks’ team members today!
Dr. Graham Kent, Director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory at the University of Nevada, gave a TEDx talk in March discussing fire cameras, crowd sourcing wildfire detection, and the significant state-wide accomplishments that have derived from GeoLinks and ALERTWildfire’s ongoing collaboration.
Lessons Learned in San Diego – Panel at California’s First Ever Wildfire Technology Innovation Summit
Jessica Block, Assistant Director of WIFIRE Lab, Qualcomm Institute, UC San Diego
1. Skyler Ditchfield, CEO, GeoLinks
2. Tony Mecham, San Diego Unit Chief, CAL FIRE
3. Brian D’Agostino, Director of Fire Science & Climate Adaptation, SDG&E
4. Graham Kent, Director, Nevada Seismological Lab, University of Nevada-Reno
CAMARILLO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–GeoLinks, a California-based telecommunications provider and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, has successfully installed and provided high speed, low latency, symmetrical data connections to 88 high-definition, pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras throughout Southern and Northern California to provide critical situational awareness during wildfire events. In collaboration with ALERTWildfire, University of California San Diego, University of Nevada, Reno, CENIC, Southern California Edison (SCE), and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the multi-hazard camera technology provides data related to fire ignition points critical in informing situational awareness and wildfire response.
This state-of-the-art camera network, developed and managed by UC San Diego and the University of Nevada, Reno, connects firefighting agencies with real-time imagery and environmental data enabling first responders to allocate and scale resources appropriately. Situated on GeoLinks’ vertical solar and wind-powered assets, the collected data is transmitted via GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network then handed off via a strategic partnership to CENIC’s private research and educational network to reach the universities, fire officials, utilities, and other users. This vital information allows involved parties to confirm ignition locations, verify 911 reports, image fire behavior, and ultimately deploy informed response and public warning.
“To give a little more context on GeoLinks involvement, we really dove head first in state disaster recovery efforts when hundreds of our clients, neighboring anchor institutions, and team members became displaced during the 2017 wildfires,” said GeoLinks Co-Founder and CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “When vital communications towers were destroyed by the fast-moving wildfire, our team worked around the clock to restore critical connectivity throughout affected counties. The same responsiveness transpired during 2018’s wildfire season; this included providing the same-day installation of a high capacity circuit for key Red Cross shelters free of charge. I realized what a difference we could make in this space with our unique capabilities of building rural and urban networks in off-the-grid locations where these are needed. Our dedication, passion, agility, and unique capabilities in supporting disaster recovery, initiated our involvement with our university collaborators.”
State, private, public and first-responder support for the expansion of this camera system is persistent and irrefutable. “The safety of my firefighters and the communities they protect is my priority, so having more information about a fire before we encounter it is an added safety measure that benefits our first responders,” said former San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Brian Fennessy. “Having access to a live view of our highest fire risk areas will greatly improve situational awareness and our coordination with CAL FIRE. In turn, that allows for quicker response times, better response strategies and faster evacuation orders to ensure our communities are better prepared in the face of a wildfire. During the ignition of the Church Fire, I could watch the smoke on my iPhone, the color, the direction, and immediately knew the resources that I needed to deploy and the time they would be engaged. Furthermore, the crews could watch how the fire progressed on their iPads as they approached the fire, real-time situational awareness — these fire cameras are a game changer.”
The 88 new cameras are located throughout high fire-risk areas throughout California. SCE and PG&E, along with public agencies and the general public, have access to the camera feeds around-the-clock through the www.alertwildfire.org website to monitor wildfire activity. Up to 160 cameras are expected to be installed by GeoLinks throughout SCE’s service area by 2020, which will allow approximately 90 percent coverage in high fire-risk areas. Similar efforts are underway at PG&E to cover their service area.
“I see this project as more of a mission than just a new line of business. None of this would be possible without the amazing work of Dr. Neal Driscoll of UC San Diego and Dr. Graham Kent of UNR who have been the pioneers of this work,” continued Ditchfield. “Our collaboration is now to super charge their founding efforts. Also, big kudos to the utilities for getting this underway; it truly shows their dedication to making a difference in future fire mitigation. The effects of this work will be nothing short of lifesaving.”
For media inquiries contact Lexie Smith, GeoLinks’ VP of Business Development, at [email protected].
GeoLinks, a Southern California based telecommunications provider and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, is recognized on both a state and national level for its unparalleled capabilities in supporting disaster recovery. Named “Most Disruptive Technology” in the 2018 Central Coast Innovation Awards, GeoLinks’ innovative proprietary network, ClearFiber™, utilizes a combination of terrestrial fiber optic backhaul, carrier-grade full-duplex fixed wireless equipment, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensed spectrum, to deliver ultra-reliable high-speed broadband Internet access to businesses and anchor institutions throughout California. With the unique ability to build solar and wind-powered redundant telecommunications facilities “off the grid,” GeoLinks is able to deploy broadband to remote and unserved communities in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost of fiber. Consequently, the company is recognized as a leader in closing the digital divide and proudly sits on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups, including: the Schools, Healthcare & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition; the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA); the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC); and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee. Recently the Company received the Christina Haska Distinguished Service Award from CENIC for GeoLinks’ pro-bono services providing critical data circuits to institutions during California’s recent natural disasters.
About CENIC • www.cenic.org
CENIC connects California to the world — advancing education and research statewide by providing the world-class network essential for innovation, collaboration, and economic growth. This nonprofit organization operates the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network designed to meet the unique requirements of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students together with educators, researchers, and others at vital public-serving institutions. CENIC’s Charter Associates are part of the world’s largest education system; they include the California K-12 system, California Community Colleges, the California State University system, California’s Public Libraries, the University of California system, Stanford, Caltech, USC, and the Naval Postgraduate School. CENIC also provides connectivity to leading-edge institutions and industry research organizations around the world, serving the public as a catalyst for a vibrant California. For more information, visit www.cenic.org.
CENIC Honors AT&T, GeoLinks, and CENIC NOC for Outstanding California Wildfire Response
CENIC announces recipients of 2019 Christine Haska Distinguished Service Award
Read the full release here:https://cenic.org/news/item/cenic-honors-att-geolinks-and-cenic-noc
La Mirada, CA & Berkeley, CA — February 28, 2019 — In recognition of their immediate and effective response to ensure emergency connectivity to communities and organizations affected by catastrophic wildfires, AT&T, GeoLinks, and CENIC’s Network Operations Center are being recognized with CENIC’s 2019 Christine Haska Distinguished Service Award, which honors individuals who have provided extraordinary leadership and service to the CENIC community.
Project leaders being recognized are: Ryan Adams, GeoLinks; Skyler Ditchfield, GeoLinks; Rhonda Lutz, AT&T; Cheryl Santiel, AT&T; and Stanley Han, CENIC.
When wildfires struck, AT&T, GeoLinks, and CENIC quickly engaged with affected communities to troubleshoot circuit failures, deploy equipment, repair network sites, and provide connectivity for essential emergency services. As a result, anchor institutions, which often serve as communication hubs for first responders and meeting places for area residents during a disaster, were able to maintain Internet connectivity. Evacuated residents were able to contact loved ones and let them know they were safe. People were able to send and receive critical emergency alerts, access email and the Internet, and get vital information immediately…..
…In nearby Oxnard, GeoLinks deployed free temporary microwave circuits to provide Internet access to the main library and two branch sites. Statewide, AT&T’s Network and Disaster Recovery team also deployed portable cell sites and recovery equipment. Meanwhile, CENIC offered to leverage its relationships with ISPs, provide temporary communications links, and donate decommissioned hardware.
“The commitment shown by these organizations and their talented staff was integral to providing critical Internet access that helped affected communities respond and recover during this catastrophic emergency,” said CENIC President and CEO Louis Fox. “We thank them for their dedication to this important work at such a critical moment for these individuals and institutions.”
Established in 2018, the CENIC Christine Haska Distinguished Service Award honors individuals who have provided extraordinary leadership and service to the CENIC community and its partners. The award is named in honor of Dr. Christine Haska (1951-2017), a treasured member of the CENIC community with an exuberant personality, boundless energy, and wide-ranging interests. She brought foresight, grace, and an innovative spirit to all her work, and remains an inspiration to colleagues working in research and education institutions across the nation. Haska had a long career in higher education and in 2002 joined the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California, where she served as vice president of information resources and chief information officer. She played a vital role in establishing both NPS and the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center as CENIC members. Retiring from NPS in 2013, Haska went on to successfully lead an initiative to connect the major health care institutions in Monterey to the CENIC network.
The CENIC Innovations in Networking Awards are presented each year at CENIC’s annual conference to highlight exemplary people, projects, and organizations that leverage high-bandwidth networking. The CENIC conference will be held March 18 – 20, 2019, in San Diego, California. Learn more and register to attend.
ALERTWildfire, a consortium of the University of Nevada Reno, UC San Diego and the University of Oregon has officially partnered with Camarillo-based telecom GeoLinks to deploy wildfire detection, prevention and situational awareness systems across California.
Demand for the expansion was inspired by a new wildfire camera pan-tilt-zoom technology developed by Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Lab at the University of Nevada Reno, that became instrumental in both the response and containment of the 2017 Lilac Fires in San Diego County.
GeoLinks plans to deploy 28 additional such cameras by year’s end.
“ALERTWildfire is excited to work with GeoLinks as their resilient communications network throughout California enables a rapid deployment of fire cameras in critical regions of the state,” said Kent. “No other service provider is able to scale to this urgent task.”
Located on GeoLinks’ vertical assets in Southern California including Ventura County, the cameras will send data over GeoLinks’ network to UC San Diego. There, WIFIRE, an integrated system for wildfire analysis, will analyze the data to create real-time simulations, wildfire path predictions and visualizations of wildfire behavior. The system ultimately will provide strategic advantages for early fire detection, situational awareness for first responders, fire mapping, predictive simulations and evacuation planning, GeoLinks said in a news release.
“The fact remains that California is now faced with wildfires year-round,” said Skyler Ditchfield, co-founder and CEO of GeoLinks. “Wildfire detection, prevention, and situational awareness systems provide a solution that could make an immediate, lasting, and radical impact on the spread of fires and associated costs, damages and casualties. … If we had assets installed prior to the Camp Fire’s ignition, for example, we could have saved countless lives. This is really the future and next step in advanced firefighting and suppression.”