Information Technology Services

Going Digital with Joey Brenn

Does Redundancy Matter?

by Joey Brenn | Oct 31, 2013

Did you notice a problem on Tuesday that affected the campus phone system?  Not one complaint or inquiry was made concerning the telephone system during the problem period.  I was on the phone with one of those marathon conference calls when the incident occurred and I received one of those automatic trouble ticket emails.  It caught my eye for some reason, maybe it was because it said the circuit was down and the automatic ticket was created by our telephone vendor, ICore Inc.   While it does not occur often, it does occur occasionally and I was not worried because we have a total of three separate circuits to cover all of our inbound and outbound calls.  I was finishing up my call and when I received another ticket notice in my email, this one said that the problem was with the local carrier.  Again I didn’t notice anything wrong with the call I was on.  I hung up the phone and within 5 minutes, a third email came in about the problem being a fiber cut on the local vendor end of the circuit.  This worried me, having been through the last fiber cut in Columbia which left Claflin University without the Internet circuit for 36 hours, I decided that I’d better just go look at our phone router box and see which circuit alarm lights were on.  I walked over to the Data Center and looked at the box, all three circuits were down with the yellow alarm light glowing brightly.  I was a little shocked so I double checked myself by looking at each one more closely and all three were completely down.  How could this be when I was on the call for the last hour and during the time that each of the previous emails came in?

When we were planning for the telephone system, one of the things that we insisted on was using the Internet connection as a fail over circuit should we ever lose or over subscribe any of the wired connections.  This is called a redundant circuit with a different outbound path and it worked perfectly.  I never noticed the change in the circuit when the switch bridged the call from the failed dedicated Verizon circuit to using our Internet circuit.  It is just one of those things that you plan for but hope your never need but in this case it worked perfectly!  Redundancy is sweet and worth the extra time and money, especially when it simply works and nobody notices.

What do you think, is redundancy worth the time and money if nobody notices when it kicks in?

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