This is the second of four blog posts in the series where we take a comprehensive look at transitioning your unified communications to the cloud. Last time, we gave an overview of the UC migration process from beginning to end. Now let's go in depth about what is involved in the planning phase.
Outline the UC Features you Require
During planning, one of the key areas to focus on is defining your organization's required UC features. If you have an existing on-premise unified communications environment, you must gain a clear understanding of what features you are currently using and decide whether or not you should offer those features as you move to the cloud. This aspect of planning can affect a large portion of your design and preparation for migration. It is also important to run an assessment on your network to ensure that it will be covered effectively. Otherwise, you risk having a poorly designed network that will break as soon as you deploy users to the cloud.
Put Together a Team of Internal and External Experts
If you have unified communications teams that manage resources internally, they should be involved in the planning process along with your network teams. Increasingly, however, we are seeing the requirement for partners to actually add expertise. If you are a smaller organization, we highly recommend that you go through a service provider, a system integrator, or a partner that can assist with the transition and provide guidance based on their expertise with other migrations and deployments. Their contributions will be extremely helpful if your organization does not have this expertise internally.
Decide on Complete Cloud or Hybrid Approach
The planning phase is also where you determine whether you want to adopt a hybrid or complete cloud solution. Your decision will be primarily driven by your organization's requirements, but it could also be driven by your migration schedule. If you have determined that it is acceptable for your enterprise to make a three to five year journey to the cloud, a hybrid model will fit more naturally into that plan.
Earn Internal Buy-in to Ensure Long-term Success
While managing the technological aspects is fairly straightforward, it is much more challenging to get people to buy into your plan. That is the key to long-term success—if people don't adopt the solution, then you have failed the whole rollout.
Planning does not solely involve the tech teams, of course—you need to establish the goal at an executive level. For the transition to be effective, senior management including the CEO and CIO need to buy in completely. Everyone must understand what the success criteria will look like, especially because you are providing different levels of services and you may not necessarily want to transition some of the legacy features/requirements when you make the move to the cloud.
Manage People's Expectations and Mindsets
One of the challenges around moving to new solutions is managing people's expectations and handling the overall cultural change. If someone has spent 20 years with a desk phone that had specific features, it could be jarring to move to a software model with just a mobile client directly connected to the cloud. Managing those mindsets is a significant part of planning and deployment. You must also be prepared to provide ongoing training programs to ensure that all the capabilities of your solution are adopted within your organization.
Set the Objectives you are Trying to Achieve
Set your goals from the context of what you are actually trying to achieve by moving to the cloud. There are many reasons for moving to the cloud; reduce costs within the organization, avoid expensive CAPEX in the form of hardware/software for your data centers, or provide better SLAs and management. Once you define these high-level goals from a company perspective, you will be able to move forward with your plan.
Once you have set clear organizational goals, created the design, and conducted a thorough assessment of your environment about your readiness to move to the cloud, you will be adequately prepared to start delivering on your actual deployment.