There are many possible scenarios which may prompt a unified communications (UC) migration within an organization. It may be that an organization decides it’s time to move from their legacy telephony system to a more modern feature-rich UC with all the benefits it brings.
Else, a UC product may reach the end of life and vendor support for it dries up. Or, a new product may be offering features a current UC system doesn’t have.
Whatever the reason, the UC migration needs to be well thought out and planned to facilitate a smooth transition from the one system to the other.
In this article, we take a closer look at the things to consider and the methods that can be employed to achieve this.
1. Strategies for migrating legacy systems to UC
There are a number of methods one can employ migrating legacy systems to UC, and there are pros and cons associated with each.
The one you choose depends on things like available time, acceptable user impact, your expectations and the amount you are willing to spend.
- The parallel build strategy
With a parallel build strategy, a new system is built alongside the existing one using PSTN number overlays.
Migration is gradual and controlled by PSTN forwarding and dial plan manipulation using steering codes.
Benefits of this strategy are having a blackout plan if something goes wrong and the ability of the users to familiarize themselves with the new system before it becomes live. Some of the disadvantages are the cost of having duplicate systems and having to complete the entire network before migration can happen.
- The hot cut strategy
A hot cut strategy is suitable for small migrations where the old system is turned off, and all resources are migrated to the new system.
This method is the least resource intensive and the fastest way of migration, but it is also the riskiest and carries the highest testing overhead.
- The gradual migration strategy
The preferred method is a gradual migration strategy. To effect this kind of migration trunking is set up between the existing and the new system. It requires detailed dial plan design and possibly a session manager or session border controller.
Using this strategy requires the most significant effort but carries the least risk.
It allows you to move small groups of users at a time, gives you the option to roll back changes and have dual phone deployment. The downside of this method is that you may have a large number of interconnections, it requires a detailed dial plan and is more complex than the other ways
2. Migrating to a new UC platform
Migration from an existing UC platform to another usually involves the extraction of multiple sources data, validating and enhancing it, and then using it to provision the new platform.
The data that describes your current communications is where the new UC system begins.
Network information such as:
- Device pools containing site layout information.
- Locations and regions describing bandwidth and codec usage.
- Trunks and gateways providing trunking information.
- Dial plan requirements that are held in the route and translation patterns.
- Device mobility details containing IP address management knowledge.
- Media services.
- SIP profiles for interoperability.
- Service and enterprise parameters exceptions.
- CTI device data describing 3rd party applications.
Various low-level methods and tools are available to help with the extraction of legacy data.
For instance, with a bulk administration tool or SQL queries, you can extract specified data from the databases. Alternatively, many products supply API’s that enable you to access the data.
New data that is not part of your legacy data may also be required. This will need to be obtained from the organization and users and added to the extracted data.
3. Validating and cleaning the data
Extracted data needs to be validated and cleaned; duplicate data must be found and removed.
Analyzing usage data such as call data records, extension mobility data, and real-time data enables you to see if devices like telephones and features like extension mobility, hunt groups, pickup groups, and single number reach are being used.
With this knowledge, you can determine inactive users, devices or features and decide if they should be treated as redundant and discarded or should be used to provision the new platform.
Directory information can be compared to user configurations to find discrepancies that can be further investigated.
Once the data has been verified and cleansed, it must be transformed into the format required and then loaded into the new UC platform.
Loading the new platform depends on accurate error-free data. Configuration exceptions or missing dependencies will cause failures necessitating redeployment wasting time and energy.
Whatever strategy is right for your business, we really advise you to think about automating UC migration workflows. The value of automating and standardizing migration workflows cannot be stressed enough. You will improve quality, reduce resource requirements, costs and delivery lead times and increase consistency.
Software like the Kurmi Migration Tool package the functionalities described above into a comprehensive product that can deliver a successful UC migration.