Cloud-based unified communications (UCaaS) provide businesses and organizations with many advantages over on site-based systems.
They are more cost-effective. You can reduce capital expenses on upfront hardware payments and move to a more predictable operating expenses accounting model where you buy what you need when you need it.
The burden of communications hardware and software maintenance and support is transferred to the communications service provider (CSP) leaving your business with fewer IT department demands and allowing them to focus more on core business activities.
UCaaS can provide your business with enterprise level resources that are more up to date, more reliable and offer better security. There remains, however, a certain resistance within many organizations to move their UC from on-site systems to the cloud.
They continue to spend more, have larger IT departments and use older software and hardware that is currently available.
Why is this the case?
1. The resistance to the move
Many companies are hesitant to migrate their system to the Cloud mainly due to concerns about network stability, service performance, and an over-reliance on legacy systems.
David Walters, in part one of his multi-part series entitled “Migrating your communications to cloud” says,
“The complexity of migrating communications to the cloud is holding up modernization.”
“Despite the apparent ‘inevitability’ and benefits of cloud-based communications, the majority of businesses still operate premises-based PBX systems.” David Walters
The effects of a communications outage on your business can be devastating and the risk of this happening while migrating UC to the cloud often outweighs the benefits.
There are, however, specific steps that can be taken by cloud service providers and businesses to mitigate these complexities and risks.
CSPs and IT managers must work together to achieve this.
2. The use of a phased migration process:
During a UC migration to the cloud, businesses and users want:
- To be able to continue with and complete their core business activities.
- To understand how the new cloud services provide the features they had on the old system.
- To begin exploring the new productivity-enhancing features of the new system.
The danger of the big bang approach is that it never gets past the first phase of the migration.
Walters outlines how to remove the risk involved in migrating your UC to the cloud by avoiding a big bang or rip-and-replace approach and recommending an incremental and structured plan using two methods that can be used independently or together.
- The first method: A phased migration of services
Communications services can be split into various areas that can be separated from each other and delivered independently.
For instance, line level services, like call forward and call hold, are different from group level services such as hunt groups and IVRs.
Collaboration services, like instant messaging, conferencing and presence, and trunking services (TDM / SIP) form service areas that can be separated from each other and migrated independently.
Each group of services can be implemented and tested before moving on to the next one; this enables the users, business and the CSP to familiarize themselves with each new cloud service and to ensure each is fully operational.
- The second method: A phased migration of sites
This allows CSP and IT staff to focus on one site at a time and to ensure that each is working properly before moving on to the next.
A shortage of qualified staff able to implement a UC migration is a significant problem.
Concentrating on one site at a time allows a smaller group of individuals to perform the migration one bit at a time.
This method limits risk to one site at a time, minimizing the effect an outage has on the business as a whole. It also provides a learning curve for IT and CSP staff that they can carry forward to the migration of the next site.
Each phase needs to be well planned and executed to ensure that each part of your UC system continues to function during and after the move so that there is no downtime or error.
The way to achieve this is to move slowly and surely. A little piece at a time. Testing each migration fully before moving on to the next one.
A big factor in reducing risk during migration to UCaaS is building a working partnership between CSP and business’ IT departments, and taking a phased and structured approach.