Carriers and business continuity

16 May 2011 | Guy Matthews


Business continuity will be much on the minds of the carrier community at the moment.

Any carrier with a global footprint will by necessity have to maintain assets around the world. These must be afforded appropriate protection in order for the carrier to maintain the continuity of their own business, and also for the sake of the many enterprise and wholesale customers they service. Events have intervened this year in many parts of the world to prove how difficult this task can be.

Physical network infrastructure is, as is well known, easily disrupted by natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunami. Improved network diversity in most parts of the world means that overall impact on services is usually kept to a minimum in such an eventuality.

There’s more to the continuity of a network business though than just falling over from one cable to another when disaster strikes. If you are a network operator headquartered in, say, Frankfurt, Denver or Dubai, you might well have outsourced your customer support function to a part of the world where real estate and the right quality of human capital are cheaper than can be found locally. But what happens when events in these less developed parts of the world take a turn that nobody saw coming? How do you keep your support lifeline open when civil unrest upends what had seemed a rock solid status quo?

Orange Business Services recently faced just such a challenge to its business continuity planning. The popular uprising of February 2011 that toppled the regime of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak caused many multinational enterprises to reevaluate what had seemed a secure hub for their Middle East operations.

Orange’s Cairo support centre is one of four, sited at a strategic distance from each other. Corresponding services hubs in Brazil, India and Mauritius, working in conjunction with smaller, localised support teams in around 160 countries, mean that Orange can claim to be a global business and mean it.

The carrier’s business continuity strategy is designed to anticipate a range of problems and alternate scenarios. It is unlikely that even a support network as finely calibrated as this would have foreseen how quickly the political turmoil that started in Tunisia would spread to Egypt and the wider region. Rather as network traffic can be diverted to alternate networks, so Orange redirected the support handled from Cairo to its other service centres and an essential lifeline for customers was kept up. Is your business this resilient?



Guy Matthews can be contacted at: guy@transom-enterprises.co.uk