Derive Technologies Relies on ShoreTel Cloud Phone System During Hurricane Sandy
“Being able to manage the business remotely in such a crisis meant we could continue to do what we do best – help our customers, especially when they needed us most.”
Bill Eggers, Vice President, Derive Technologies
Derive Technologies ™ is a technology infrastructure consultancy that has served the needs of worldwide, nationwide and New York metropolitan area corporations and the public sector for more than three decades. Its principal business-technology practices surround data center architecture and business continuity, virtualization, cloud computing, application lifecycle support, workforce mobilization, security and end-user device lifecycle. Its Tier One Alliance Partners include Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Cisco and Apple. Bill Eggers is Vice President for Derive Technologies, leading the Healthcare and Public Sector Practices.
When Derive Technologies relocated offices a year ago, it willfully left behind a 20-year old legacy PBX phone platform that provided little in the way of modern technology. Being a company focused on innovation, it only seemed appropriate for Derive Technologies to use the opportunity to transition to a hosted, voice-over internet protocol (VoIP) phone system. VoIP technology enables users to forego the constraints of traditional land lines in favor of an often lower cost, lower maintenance, smaller footprint and more functional Internet-based solution.
Derive Technologies chose to partner with ShoreTel to provide the VoIP phone system and a year later, as Hurricane Sandy struck havoc in the northeast, the company was thankful for their decision. As power went down across multiple states, many companies with traditional land lines found themselves not only in the dark, but unable to communicate with each other, partners, vendors or customers for weeks. Credit card machines were inoperable, internet access was impossible and millions of dollars were lost in sales.
“I think we were all caught off guard with the severity of the hurricane and the extent of the power outages,” says Eggers. “Without the ability to forward calls to cell phones, it would have been devastating for our company. Most of what we do is service related. Our group’s largest involvement is with the major hospitals in New York. With their power outages, it was vital for us to get people to those sites to provide technical support. Without the VoIP phone system, there would have been no way to communicate with the hospital or our staff.”
The ShoreTel cloud solution permits users to log into their phone system from any phone and enter into a portal to listen to voicemails and quickly construct phone preferences, such as forwarding calls to cell phones and the Find Me Follow Me feature. Most Derive Technology employees enabled these features prior to the hurricane, allowing those with cell coverage during and after the storm to take the reins and keep the company operating when others without power or cell coverage had no option. Once the power went down, however, so did the Internet access.
“The cloud-based phones became a lifeline for those of us fortunate enough to have power and/or cell coverage,” continues Eggers. “Having full, remote access into the phone system allowed us to find the reachable Derive employees that could respond to urgent technical needs, bringing up customer data centers and addressing business continuity systems. We could also change settings so calls would not ring a person who we knew wasn’t reachable; instead, their phones would automatically ring their fallback. Being able to manage the business remotely in such a crisis meant we could continue to do what we do best – help our customers, especially when they needed us most.”
Although ShoreTel has distributed facilities for disaster recovery, many of those facilities were in the large area that was affected by the storm. Still, ShoreTel did it’s best to remain available to customers desperate to get back on line. “I was able to reach ShoreTel to make a few changes we couldn’t do on our own, mostly because we weren’t trained yet on the features, such as modifying hunt groups and adding approved profiles,” says Eggers. “We now understand how important those features can be and will further leverage the many features of the system.”
Most of the employees at Derive Technologies have been significantly affected by the aftermath of the storm with flooded homes, fuel shortages that prevented them from refueling generators, and no power or water. Weeks after the storm, 10-15 percent of their workforce is still dealing with these issues. “It has been a team effort to help our burdened employees get back on their feet and get Derive Technologies running at full speed again,” says Eggers. “It was an unusual phenomenon to lose both of our facilities and have power down as long as we did. Hosted VoIP phones offer so much more functionality than land lines and can help organizations plan for the unexpected.”