There is more to Unified Communications (UC) cloud migration than meets the eye, especially for large businesses with significant workforces.
Moving to the cloud is an important strategic decision that requires the appropriate consideration and planning. That’s why so many companies adopt a hybrid approach and use it as a stepping stone to moving all their UC to the cloud.
Our experience of migrating UC to the cloud is that there are four stages you need to get right to master migrating to the cloud.
Create a plan
Define your reasons to migrate to the cloud and set your objectives, whether it’s cost reduction, avoiding large capital expenditure or providing enhanced SLAs and management capabilities. Scope out your approach, assess what should and shouldn’t be moved to cloud. Many organisations are choosing a hybrid approach as a stepping stone to their wider cloud goals, is this you?
If your organisation is going hybrid, outline exactly what is remaining on-premises and to avoid confusion note the reasons why, e.g. existing capital investments in telephony systems. Check if the on-premises equipment (session border controllers, cloud connectors, video network infrastructure) has interoperability with your cloud provider.
Now, define clear roles and responsibilities for internal teams, partners, service providers or system integrators who will assist you in the transition. Everyone must be aware of the success criteria for the initial deployment and the overall migration rollout plan.
Have a clear expectation of the features necessary for each region and department. Take the time to understand all the possible requirements in terms of people, process and technology.
Transition non-customer facing departments first
When migrating UC to the cloud it's best to begin transitioning subsets of users in non-critical facing departments first. Business critical departments such as contact centers should only be migrated when you have confidently transitioned other parts of the business. Different and more challenging complexities will emerge when wide scale transformation occurs, and can be better handled once you have experience to draw on from moving smaller departments first.
One of the biggest requirements during a UC migration is having a targeted assessment of your existing environment. Make sure you can answer these questions:
- What does the network environment look like?
- Is there enough bandwidth to support UC traffic on the WAN? Do you need to upgrade?
- Will I be able to make calls successfully once in the cloud?
- What results did you obtain from your existing UC monitoring solution?
- What results did you obtain from the network assessment tool?
- What technical support do you have? Are all your needs covered? E.g. Internal, vendor or partner.
Keep user adoption at top of mind
As you move from the smaller groups, review the key learnings and successes taking these benchmarks into the wider roll out. It is key to track performance, adoption and train users throughout the transition.
- Ensure all departments receive appropriate training as required to drive adoption.
- Track adoption and usage patterns with utilisation reports in your environment.
- Throughout the migration journey communicate clearly to users about what changes they will experience (e.g. lost/added features).
- Evaluate the results of the rollout against the original objectives set.
- Utilise a performance management solution throughout the pilot, rollout and ongoing operations to identify and resolve problems/issues.
Users are a key part of your transformation, empower them to make the change effectively. Provide ongoing support, refine tools and processes, and continually gauge progress.
Test, assess and optimise
- Refine the processes for monitoring and managing your UC environment.
- Ensure users are adopting new cloud features as intended by monitoring usage reports, spot checking, and short surveys. If they aren’t, explore why.
- Setup threshold alerts for visibility of potential issues such as reaching capacity limitations.
- Put together reports that provide an understanding of your environment to ensure you are meeting SLAs.
- If your organisation deployed a hybrid approach to cloud UC migration, understand your on-premises infrastructure and how it relates to your cloud providers and monitor performance in real-time.
- Have clear demarcation points to ensure success when moving from on-premises to cloud hosted services.
- Provide ongoing training programs to help people successfully adapt to the cultural change of adopting new capabilities in your cloud solution.
UC cloud migration can be challenging. Many companies work with an experienced partner to adopt a hybrid approach and use it as a stepping stone to move all the UC to the cloud. When an organisation has the right level of commitment, appreciates the importance of user adoption and plans their gradual rollout coherently, they are on track to have a successful UC migration to the cloud that will transform their organisation.