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How to Plan your Unified Communications Transition to the Cloud

About the author:

As global head of product marketing, Skip Chilcott leads worldwide product marketing at IR. He is a 20-plus year veteran of the communications and collaboration industry, dating to the early 1990s with his time at Placeware Web Conferencing. Before joining IR, Skip spent 12 years at Microsoft, involved early on in real-time collaboration, unified communications, and cloud productivity products and services. Most recently there, he focused on the Lync/Skype for Business and Office 365 go-to-market strategy and execution.


More From Skip Chilcott
About the author:

As global head of product marketing, Skip Chilcott leads worldwide product marketing at IR. He is a 20-plus year veteran of the communications and collaboration industry, dating to the early 1990s with his time at Placeware Web Conferencing. Before joining IR, Skip spent 12 years at Microsoft, involved early on in real-time collaboration, unified communications, and cloud productivity products and services. Most recently there, he focused on the Lync/Skype for Business and Office 365 go-to-market strategy and execution.


More From Skip Chilcott
12-Dec-2016
The ease of transitioning to the cloud is foggy territory – transitioning unified communications (UC) to the cloud or taking a hybrid cloud approach is often stormy. Moving UC is more complex than moving other functions because it encompasses end-to-end infrastructure, systems, vendors, teams. The costs of getting the UC cloud/hybrid transition wrong is also greater: sales, customer loyalty and maybe even your job are at stake. 

Watch our webinar with No Jitter on Getting the Hybrid/Cloud Transition Right now.  
 
There are three distinct phases in transitioning your unified communications to the cloud: planning, delivering, ongoing maintenance. This blog looks at the first phase: planning.
  

Visualize the Finished Product

  1. Describe Current Environment - Establish a baseline by defining the current situation of your unified communications and their performance on-premises. Stating “this is where we are today” can help understand how far you have to go and keep in mind the minimum requirement – the project must not make things worse.
  2. Confirm KPI Metrics – Write down what constitutes success of the project completion in terms of numbers.
  3. Establish Project Owners and Team Members – Decide who will be leading the project at various stages.  
  4. Outline the Business Case – Be clear in defining the business case and say why you are transitioning to the cloud. It will be helpful for shaping internal conversations to gain buy-in. 
  5. Identify Hazards & Mitigation Plans – Take steps to avoid common pitfalls. Having contingency plans in place: these can be the difference between an agile moving feast and a delayed bottle-necked roll out. Reducing and averting risk is key.
  6. Discuss Deployment Architecture – Define how the business will roll out UC in cloud in the long-term.
  7. Create Adoption and Roll Out Maps – Adoption is when people start using the new system and start relying on it 100%, ask and answer questions such as: 
    • What size pilot group do we need?
    • Which team or region will be first to adopt the cloud UC?
    • How long will it take to onboard first adopters until last adopters? 
Timeline
1. Profile the main activities.
2. Identify each activity duration.
3. Prioritize the key activities based on dependencies. 
4. Make a shareable file for key participants with activities and timelines. 

Consider Key Variables & Dependencies
Project Team Availability. 
Budget Considerations.

Give Clear Role Narratives
Define clear roles and responsibilities and name the people assuming each role. 

TOP TIP: “Share early key successes to keep people enthused and informed.”
 – John Hand, Microsoft Global Alliance Director, IR.

Evaluate End-to-end Readiness

End to end readiness can be broken down into being ready from an IT & infrastructure point of view; having personnel scheduled to carry out the work, operationally; having the people in the company ready to switch to the new platform and adoption; being able to fully migrate and rely on the new system.

Carry out a UC Network Assessment

What impact will using cloud-based or hybrid unified communications have on your network? Carrying out a network assessment is a crucial part to successfully transitioning UC fully to the cloud or adopting a hybrid approach. In a typical network environment where you are using Excel or Word online the network impact is relatively small but when you start to have live broadcast, voice and video over your network it’s going to have a specific impact.

A UC Network Assessment, like Prognosis UC Assessor, should generate insights from multiple sites within your environment and report back on what is sufficient. Best practice is for network assessments to include load tests with simulated traffic to find problems in the network for voice, video, and desktop sharing. Prognosis UC Assessor is a 100% software based solution meaning it doesn’t require any costly and timely probes in your environment.

*Prognosis UC Assessor is the only certified Network Assessment tool for Skype for Business Online.


Blueprint the Solution

Design your transition to the cloud solution and include all of the following:
Hardware
Conference dial-ins
Security
Licenses 
Certificates
Emergency numbers
Managing users
Telephony co-existence
Voice mail 

In conclusion, smart and detailed planning for moving your unified communications to the cloud can play a large part in sailing through a turbulent transition unscathed.

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About the author:

As global head of product marketing, Skip Chilcott leads worldwide product marketing at IR. He is a 20-plus year veteran of the communications and collaboration industry, dating to the early 1990s with his time at Placeware Web Conferencing. Before joining IR, Skip spent 12 years at Microsoft, involved early on in real-time collaboration, unified communications, and cloud productivity products and services. Most recently there, he focused on the Lync/Skype for Business and Office 365 go-to-market strategy and execution.


More From Skip Chilcott