Meeting the Challenge of Redundancy: Protecting Your Network and Your IT Hero Status

By Pete Engler

The Asterisk community is filled with passionate users dedicated both to the open source Asterisk project and to the way in which they use it in their organizations. It’s part of my job, at Digium, to make sure users have all the tools needed to make their project implementations successful and one challenge that consistently shows up is that of a redundancy.

As an Asterisk user, you can probably relate to the following scenario:

The Asterisk system you built is a masterpiece. Everyone in the organization is more efficient since deployment of it. It’s your baby and the boss is thrilled. Then the ugly question: What have you done to prepare for a failure? The list of components that that could fail in any network and bring down the system is long. Power supplies, hard drives, software…I could go on. The question posed now becomes your mission –  resolve the redundancy issue. Otherwise, the risk to your system, the company, and possibly your own job security is significant should a catastrophe occur without being prepared for it.

Not to worry. Digium has your back.   Part of my role at Digium has been helping to ensure Digium is offering solutions that keep our community of Asterisk users protected. With the recent release of two products, the R-Series and Gateway Series appliances, I can proudly say that we absolutely do that – keep your Asterisk-based networks humming along! By the way, my job is to also make sure the Community knows these products exist and to help educate users on implementation. So, my apologies in advance if this feels like a sales pitch, but I want you to see how these great new products can truly make your job easier (and more secure). Not to mention, last year Digium experienced first-hand the wrath a natural disaster can have on your communications network and your business – so we can attest to the critical importance of redundancy.

How do your prepare your Asterisk system?

For starters, the R-Series is an appliance that will provide physical layer failover of your provider’s PSTN lines. Digium provides step-by-step instructions for turning your system, along with another Asterisk server into a clustered, mirrored solution. The backup server sits on the sidelines and monitors the primary for any hardware and software failures. If a failure is detected, the R-Series moves the PSTN lines to the backup server. The backup server then springs into service within a matter of seconds, with all communications services fully intact!

Now, suppose you are thinking of implementing another Asterisk-based system to help your expanding business needs. Are you doubling your risks? Actually, deploying a new system to help with the communications services will certainly improve service for your customers. Using our new Digium IP Gateway and preferably with our new Digium IP phones (yes, that was a shameless plug), a secondary path for incoming and outgoing calls can automatically happen. It’s just a matter of configuring incoming and outgoing calling rules in the Gateway and an alternate host (to both Asterisk systems) in the Digium phones. That means, if one Asterisk system is down, the other will handle the services for all phones, never leaving users without a PBX to which to connect. The Gateway will route calls to both servers during normal operation and if one server becomes unavailable, it will adjust by sending all calls to the operational one.

As you know, when these systems are up and running you are the one sitting pretty, with no cares in the world. When they are down…revenue dips are at stake, customers are frustrated, and everyone is looking at you with snake eyes. So, the moral of this story? Digium has your back with solutions that help you maintain your status as an IT Super Hero within your organization, and that help keep your company in the best position to serve its customers.

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There's One Comment

  • Pete,

    Nice Blog. Maybe you could make a mention that the redundancy can be made even better by adding a MultiWAN router. We have actually fully interop tested Draytek’s Multi WAN routers for this and made a youtube
    showing it

    We added the Draytek line to ABP’s IP Portfolio because they handle VoIP so well and offer a cost effective business router that ensure business continuity, offer QOS and great security at a truly amazing cost while still protecting reseller margins.

    Would be great if you could talk about this sometime.

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