You are here

Distributed Architecture: Ready for Takeoff?

Facebook LinkedIn Google+ Twitter


Imagine that it’s the 1920’s, at the dawn of the air travel boom, and you’re responsible for managing all air travel throughout the world.

In order to save money, you begin with only one air traffic controller (let’s call him Bob).

Suppose Bob lived in Chicago and all flights had to go through Chicago to receive instructions before they reached their final destination. As more and more flights get added to the schedule, Bob would soon be inundated with activity so you would need to hire more air traffic controllers.

To keep costs low, you keep everything at one location and hire additional air traffic controllers in Chicago. Perhaps one of these air traffic controllers could be dedicated to managing radio communication between multiple pilots and another could be dedicated to writing down messages to be relayed on to other pilots at a later time.

Soon, you’d have a bunch of air traffic controllers in Chicago and everything would be working great….until one of them catches a cold and calls in sick…or worse yet, all of them catch the same cold and call in sick.

If this happens, all flights would be grounded. So to make sure that this doesn’t happen, you hire a backup air traffic controller for each area of responsibility and have them sit at home until needed.

This would quickly get quite expensive and managing all of these different air traffic controllers would be a nightmare. Furthermore, what if a storm hit Chicago and kept all flights from entering Chicago airspace?  Once again, all flights would be grounded.

You would soon find that it is far more efficient to have air traffic controllers located throughout the world in areas of major activity. Instead of hiring backup air traffic controllers at each site, you could have air traffic controllers with excess time on their hands at other locations take over in the event that one of them needs a break. By keeping the air traffic controllers separated, you would also reduce the risk of them catching the same cold should one of them become sick. In addition, to further ensure that flights continue, you could hire just one additional backup air traffic controller to cover for any of the other air traffic controllers in case any one of them does call in sick.

Similar to the example above, businesses with more than one site risk having outages if they rely on a centralized location for their communication needs. Local call control at remote sites is essential to ensure that communications are always available. A distributed architecture puts call processing closer to end users, eliminating dependency on connectivity to a centralized location for making calls.

ShoreTel’s voice switches can be placed at remote sites to ensure uptime even if communication is cutoff between the remote site and headquarters either due to a switch failure (like people calling in sick) or a WAN failure (like storms over Chicago). Furthermore, ShoreTel’s V-switches can be used to not only ensure call control uptime, but voicemail and auto attendant uptime as well. ShoreTel’s built-in redundancy scheme utilizes excess capacity at other switches to guarantee that calls are always connected and with optional N+1 redundancy, only one additional switch is needed to take over for any of the other switches in the event of a failure.

When considering a communications solution, it is imperative to plan for a worst case scenario. Proper planning upfront will keep your business from being grounded and ensure that your business continues to fly high.