The term Five Nines is jargon cloud service providers  use to label service uptime. The phrase refers to 99.999% availability. That translates into 26.3 seconds per month of downtime or 5.26 minutes a year.
Small Business Trends contacted Mark Sher, Vice President of UC Product and Marketing at Intermedia . He explained why this matters to entrepreneurs who rely on their phones and how they can assure their provider achieves it.
Importance of Five Nines Uptime
“Success often depends on partners’, suppliers’, and customers’ ability to call and reach a business,” he wrote in an email. “This is just as important for employees who need to be able to call or communicate with each other. That includes any business with multiple offices or employees who are remote or travel frequently.”
Phones are still very important to small businesses. Sher points out these are especially critical because SMBs are more dependent on every sale than their bigger counterparts.
“According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40 percent of small businesses go out of business when faced with an unplanned disruption.”
Here’s another good statistic. According to Sher, “38.3 % of small businesses lost as much as $20,000 when critical IT services went down in 2014.
Another 10 percent lost as much as $100,000 and almost 20% lost between $50,000 to $5 million.” Those numbers were originally from the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council.
So, you need to find a service provider to keep your phones up and running so your business can do the same. Sher walks through what your company needs to be looking for. In other words, here’s what a small business needs to look for in a provider to make sure they achieve Five Nines.
Service in The Cloud
“There are other factors outside of a service provider’s control such as severe weather, power and internet outages,” he writes.
If the building you work in floods or a storm cuts the power, you lose your desk phones. However, a service like Intermedia bypasses those problems since it is cloud based.
“It automatically reroutes calls to your mobile device, so business can continue wherever your employees are,” Sher says.
Having a cloud based provider helps your business to do an end run around climate change.
The Right Tech
The average small business owner isn’t a tech wizard. However, you can check these boxes when you’re searching for a Five Nines provider. You’ll need to ask about the network architecture and the scalability. Check into the data centers being used. The network should be constantly undergoing tests too.
Specific Business Features
You can narrow down your choices by looking at business continuity features too. These include:
- An Automated Attendant
- Automatic re-routing to cell capabilities
- A Plug-And-Play phone relocation.
- A Mobile softphone option to call from a mobile device.
What You Need in An Agreement
Sher points out there’s one overarching feature you should insist on.
“When looking for the right five nines provider it is key to select a service provider who is willing to provide a Service Level Agreement (SLA) of 99.999% uptime,” he writes.
A good service agreement should be financially backed. For example, Intermedia compensates their clients for any downtime. A flat per user or monthly fee without a contract are good features to have. Look for unlimited local and domestic long-distance calls too. Free desk phones are another attractive option.