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Comments Off on Cloud: the Next Step in Unified Communications

Cloud: the Next Step in Unified Communications

Posted by Admin | November 24, 2016 | Unified Commuication

Six key point to consider when moving unified communications into the cloud

While many organisations have only just made the shift to unified communications, many more are already planning a shift to the cloud and, especially, a unified communications as-a-service model.

According to a survey by US unified communications software supplier Broadsoft, the number of organisations expecting to shift their communications to the cloud – where they can simply pay for what they use – will increase from seven per cent this year to more than 40 per cent by 2020.

That’s quite a leap, but organisations planning such a shift will need to plan carefully. Not only might it require corporate network upgrades in order to handle the extra traffic, it will also require an ultra-high availability internet connection, and you’ll have to calculate carefully to cover peak potential usage.

Here are the top-five recommendations for making such a transition, which ought to ensure that it is as smooth and trouble-free as possible:

1) Take a hybrid approach

While it’s tempting to go for a ‘big bang’ and to shift lock, stock and barrel into the cloud, a gradual shift is probably preferable. That means running some services on-premise and others in the cloud – mixing and matching according to your organisation’s needs.

Collaboration, for example, is rapidly moving towards the cloud. But a mission-critical contact centre can probably wait. With each service shifted towards the cloud you’ll get better at the migration process and know better the pitfalls to avoid.

2) Assess your needs and test, test and test again

You can’t take an iterative approach to communications – it’s all got to work at 9am on Monday morning. That requires an honest assessment of needs in terms of performance, and a benchmark of the corresponding ‘quality experience’.

You then need to devise multiple tests that don’t just involve one call, but tens, hundreds or even thousands, depending on the size of your organisation. Stress test the network to breaking point, not just to ensure that it has the capacity to handle the traffic, but also to see what that looks like.

And test using the various difference types and blends of traffics you expect.

Furthermore, keep testing: network traffic is constantly changing and evolving, and what may work one month may well not work the next.

3) Performance and quality monitoring

This probably goes without saying, but at the same time that you’re stress testing, it’s also important to monitor for both performance and quality in order to identify problems before or, at the very least, as they are happening. This will also give you a head start in quickly identify faults as they emerge and, therefore, in delivering solutions.

4) Pilot projects

While it’s always good to ‘try before you buy’, don’t fall into the trap of running a supposedly free pilot project, then investing so much into that project you feel obliged to buy.

Indeed, pilot projects rarely involve a ‘real world’ test. Shifting 100 users over to a cloud unified communications infrastructure is one thing, but what about 10,000?

In addition, take a step-by-step approach to minimalise costs – there’s no point investing a substantial sum in a pilot project if it ultimately leads to either disruption or you have to expensively reject the solution.

5) Create a long-term strategy

This may be a statement of the bl**din’ obvious, but it’s valuable not just to create a long-term strategy, but also to update it regularly as you learn more so that it evolves with corporate needs on the basis of your experience. The strategy will inevitably involve multiple vendors’ products and services, and they will need to work together seamlessly.

Ultimately, you’ll need to know what your organisation’s unified communications will provide to users in terms of their experience, and how you can apply your own performance management criteria to that.

6) Exit strategy

It may sound like a waste of time, but in any shift to the cloud an exit strategy always needs to be considered. Depending on the organisation, such a shift might be dictated by regulation, such as data protection legislation. And if prices rise or service declines, how will you extricate your organisation from your cloud provider? What will the costs be, and how much effort will be required?

In considering the exit strategy up-front, it’s worth examining any fees or costs associated with terminating licences or cloud services, as well as the raw (and no doubt painful and time-consuming) costs of migration.

Source: computing

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