The UC-as-a-Service market as a whole is transitioning to the early mainstream phase for enterprise delivery. John Dunne, chief solutions officer, IR, analyses how IT departments can ensure maximum success when they come to migrate their UC to the cloud.
Ready or not, unified communications are starting to move to the cloud. Even those enterprises once reluctant to make the transition are gazing upward and putting small groups of users into the cloud, yet many IT teams are still concerned about the risks of migration.
When you’re transitioning to a cloud solution for unified communications, not only do you have to worry about the performance of your own internal network, you also have to worry about the Internet service provider’s network and the public Internet which sits between you and your cloud vendor’s UC service. It’s hard enough to control the performance of your internal network; guaranteeing the performance of the ISP and public Internet is another matter entirely.
For this reason, moving UC to the cloud is a larger challenge than moving other functions. Here are five steps to help ensure success when you decide to move UC to the cloud:
Embrace a hybrid approach. Moving to the cloud is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Many organisations take a hybrid approach, transitioning some systems while continuing to run others on-premise. This works for UC as well. It might be ideal for some functions to move to the cloud right away, while other functions, such as the contact centre, stay on premise.
Assess and test. It’s crucial to assess and test your environments before, during and after migration to ensure readiness and quality. Don’t just test for the number of users or usage patterns you have today. Test for what your usage will look like in the future and when you’ve added headcount, and test for the type of usage you envision for your organisation, such as desktop video conferencing. Networks are living, breathing entities and they change continually; that means continual testing is an absolute must.
Avoid the pilot trap. It’s common to conduct a cloud pilot with, say, 500 users to see how it goes. But what happens when you go live and add another 5,000 users? Forced to handle this additional traffic, your new system may suddenly not work so well. At a minimum, you need to ensure your Internet service provider has provisioned you with the right levels of bandwidth to account for all potential users.
Proactively monitor quality and performance. When you proactively monitor the quality and performance of conferences and calls, you put yourself in position to troubleshoot issues and isolate problems before the user experience is significantly impacted. In a hybrid cloud environment, in particular, there is a lot of equipment from many different vendors in play. This means you must be able to take data from several sources and stitch it together to get a complete picture of what is happening across your entire solution.
Create a long-term management strategy. You need a strategy that supports a broad set of vendors in your journey to the cloud. Most organisations today are not on a single unified communications platform, they’re on disparate platforms from many UC vendors. That’s why you need a holistic communications experience management solution that can accommodate the vendors’ various technologies, especially as you shift from one platform to another and transition more and more of your UC operations to the cloud.