- Today, agencies face an ever-expanding threat landscape
- Understanding reliability: choosing the best platform to support communication and collaboration
- Collaboration technology that’s purpose-built for reliability
If the last couple of years have proven anything, it’s that “business as usual” is a concept we can no longer take for granted. Between COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, record-breaking wildfires, ever-growing cyberattacks (one so huge it took down the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S.), organizations have been subject to a head-spinning array of threats, both natural and human-caused.
For government agencies, tasked with providing essential services to citizens and keeping the lights on for the country, there’s a heightened imperative to mitigate operational vulnerabilities. While cloud technology and digital transformation are (rightly) seen as important ways to maintain access and resource availability during periods of disruption, proactively addressing risks remains a key challenge for many agencies.
In an annual assessment of management and performance challenges facing government agencies conducted by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, IT security and management was the top response cited by 73% of respondents. Nearly half said disaster preparedness—also directly linked to business continuity—was a chief concern.
Says Matthew Foosaner, RingCentral’s Regional Vice President of Federal Sales: “Today, agencies face an unprecedented level of challenges. Whether it is the fact that the number and intensity of named hurricanes doubled since the 1980s or that major fires have increased their destructive areas by 46% since the 1990s, natural disasters impact agencies throughout much of the U.S. COVID-19 has also forced the government to rethink the traditional office-bound employee and how they are able to support the millions of citizens that depend on government services.” Emphasizes Foosaner:
As agencies begin to implement technologies that facilitate remote work and enhanced citizen engagement, they now also have to consider cyberthreats that seek to disrupt mission-critical communications.
When disruptions occur, the risks go beyond reducing or halting an agency’s capacity to deliver on its mandate. Americans’ trust in the government has declined substantially—from 73% in 1958 to 24% in 2021—an erosion with significant implications, even to democracy itself.
Among the key concerns cited in the Inspectors General report was ensuring continuity of operations. But even the best-laid contingency plans can’t provide the same level of assurance as choosing the right technology to begin with. Foosaner says:
What agencies need are solutions that are not only secure against cyber threats, but that are reliable without exception from the very core of their capabilities.
“Government employees need tools that facilitate collaboration within and across agencies, as well as directly in their interaction with citizens that they support,” Foosaner continues. “Having collaboration tools that have minimal downtime, whether planned or unplanned, is no longer an option. It’s a requirement.”
There’s a lot to consider in choosing the best platform to support communication and collaboration. For government agencies that need to be able to support citizens regardless of what’s happening externally, reliability is a key consideration.
When it comes to cloud technology, reliability means knowing your solution will deliver what you need when you need it. But reliability isn’t an abstract concept. Service providers guarantee their levels of uptime, and a maximum threshold for outages, within their Service Level Agreements (SLAs). An SLA of 99% annually translates to 7.2 hours of downtime a month. On the other hand, an SLA of 99.999% or “five nines” (often viewed as the gold standard), translates to only 26 seconds of downtime per month.
There are several factors that roll up to overall reliability:
Scalability is a provider’s ability to keep up with capacity requirements as an agency’s needs change, in both planned and unexpected circumstances. Ideally, a provider should be able to quickly and seamlessly scale up as needed.
Redundancy refers to a provider’s architecture and built-in backups, which allow service to continue in the event of a localized disruptive event. Data centers in multiple geographic locations and other redundancies allow data to be rerouted and service to be maintained when such outages occur.
Quality of Service
It doesn’t take an outage to bring communications to a halt. Voice lags, static, and other Quality of Service (QoS) issues can be equally detrimental to agency effectiveness. Look for robust QoS analytics and responsive support and troubleshooting to quickly identify and correct such issues.
The risk of domestic and foreign cyberattacks continues to grow, and weak links can make cloud services particularly vulnerable. As such, it’s important to seek out solutions that offer multiple layers of protection, including policies and procedures around change management, access management, vulnerability management, incident response, fraud monitoring, audits, access reviews, training, and third-party testing.
Given the risks involved, government agencies can’t afford to treat reliability as a nice-to-have feature when selecting tools to support their workforce.
“RingCentral understands the meaning of the ‘zero fail’ missions that federal agencies face every day,” Foosaner says. “Now, more than ever, government agencies need to utilize collaboration tools that are there when they need them, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to support our citizens.”
To learn more about how government agencies can ensure collaboration tools are up to this imperative—including specific questions to ask potential service providers to assess reliability—download our Understanding Reliability Playbook now.
Originally published Oct 05, 2021, updated Dec 20, 2021