This is the third of four blog posts in the series where we take a comprehensive look at transitioning your unified communications to the cloud. Last time, we talked about defining necessary features and setting clear goals during the UC migration planning phase. This time, let's delve into the key areas to consider when it is time to implement your plan.
Tracking Adoption Rates when Deploying UC Cloud
During deployment, it is important to track how users are adopting and using services. Monitoring management from day one can ensure that you will be able to proactively address issues and resolve them as quickly as possible. This, in turn, will reduce your support costs. It would be beneficial to track the usage profiles within the environment as well as determine exactly who needs certain features/functions from a licensing perspective. As a result, it will be possible to ensure that the right mix of features exists within the environment.
Understanding each modality of how users are using and adopting different services is a key practice during the deployment phase. To get the best from your UC cloud deployment, it's critical to know which features your users adopt, which they ignore and how they navigate the entire cloud UC application. When you understand which features are most likely to lead to adoption, retention and customer satisfaction, your unified communication cloud deployment will make for a better user experience. The ability to gain these insights and adjust onboarding flows in a single platform will ensure you're addressing your business's most important KPIs.
From a cost management perspective, you can determine if some users actually have too many features in the environment. Do they need sophisticated inbound/outbound calling features or are they mainly doing internal audio/video conferencing? Detailed tracking allows you to see the usage profile and determine where it makes sense to adopt unified communications more aggressively.
UC Cloud Deployment Training & Communication
The most important part of a user adoption strategy is end user training, so it's crucial to supply and maintain updated training programs, especially if there are significant departures from the traditional systems that users have become accustomed to. Focus on change management. UC isn't just about technology. We talked about the importance of people in previous blog posts, and communication is an important factor in making sure that everyone understands which (if any) features they will lose during migration. It is also crucial that people understand how to use the solution, especially if they have only used traditional telephony without unified communications in the past. All the departments within your organization need to be involved so that the IT team can develop effective training processes explaining how to use the software. Everyone within the organization needs to be able to support the roll-out of these programs as part of migration.
Monitoring and Testing your cloud UC
No enterprise can leverage the benefits of cloud technologies fully without implementing a robust monitoring and testing strategy. You'll need to perform different types of software testing to ensure that the application remains functional, stable and compatible in the cloud environment. Testing gives you the ability to validate that you are delivering on quality expectations for unified communications on an ongoing basis. It provides you with the continuous ability to monitor the environment, even when you have only deployed services for a few users. Testing can also be used as a validation point demonstrating that you are delivering on your internal SLAs.
Properly Planning your Cloud Deployment
If you haven't done adequate unified communications migration planning upfront (as we detailed in the previous blog post in this series), you will likely see the consequences during this phase. Just to recap, there are some vital steps in the planning process, including:
- Establishing the cloud migration-architect role
- Choosing your level of cloud integration
- Single cloud or multi-cloud?
- Establishing cloud KPIs
- Prioritizing cloud migration components
- When to switch over production
While it is possible that you will deliver full quality experiences, there may also be frequent failures or inflated expectations around how quickly the roll-out will take place. All of the risks that you will face during the cloud deployment phase relate to how well you created a plan, how well you performed the assessment, and how you built the monitoring framework. The people, process, and technology build the foundation of the infrastructure on day one.
When businesses operate in multiple geographic regions, this can introduce additional complexity, so it's important to consider this in your overall cloud migration strategy. Issues include:
- Asset distribution
- User access profiles
- Compliance requirements
- Regional resiliency
Aside from executing your plan from an organizational perspective, you should also execute your UC cloud deployment plan with a clear understanding of the unique features that are available in your region. Because different regions of the world have different features, where you are situated matters greatly in terms of whether unified communications in the cloud will work for your business. For instance, the U.S. is relatively mature in terms of UC, while Australia and much of the Asia-Pacific region is not yet ready for full cloud unified communications implementations. Over the next couple of years, though, these regions will evolve to provide a more mature unified communications cloud offering.
Public, Private or Hybrid Cloud Based Deployments?
While you've probably already made the decision to deploy either public, private, or hybrid cloud, it's important to consider the benefits/drawbacks of each option.
With a public cloud based deployment, all hardware, software and other supporting UC infrastructure is owned and managed by the UC solutions provider. You access services, and manage your account using a web browser, and share the same hardware, storage and network devices with other organizations. Advantages include lower costs, no maintenance, near-unlimited scalability and high reliability. Limitations faced with outsourcing your UC technology to a public cloud include loss of control over your UC services. Service reliability is also another issue, as is security. Also, with public solutions, your visibility is limited, meaning that IT teams may not be able to properly manage the company's infrastructure. With only generic options available the public environment can restrict any customization you may wish to implement.
A private cloud UC solution consists of computing resources used solely by your organization. This can make it simpler for an organization to customize its resources to meet specific IT requirements. Advantages include more flexibility, so that you can reallocate resources dynamically, wherever they are needed most. Improved performance and reliability are also distinct advantages, as the resources within the private infrastructure are at the disposal of only your company, not shared and therefore less vulnerable to attack. With total control, you are free to build and configure your private network in any way you like. Disadvantages are that with exclusivity comes increased cost. Private cloud networks generally require a large capital outlay, so this is something that needs to be factored into a company's budget. The decision to use a private solution also comes with the risk of under-utilization, which can also come at a cost, and impact a company's ROI.
Often referred to as the best of both worlds, hybrid cloud UC solutions combine on-premises infrastructure (or private clouds) with public clouds. This means that your business can reap the benefits of both. Hybrid solutions mean that data and applications can move between private and public for greater flexibility and more deployment options. For example, with a hybrid UC solution you could use the public cloud for higher-volume, lower security needs such as web-based email. You could then use private services, or other on-premises UC infrastructure for more sensitive, business-critical operations.
Hybrid cloud services are credited with fluent data transfer between public and private networks. Ultimately this means a far more complex system architecture, and therefore requires a more detailed approach to management and maintenance. The complexity of your deployment will partially depend on whether you chose to implement a hybrid or full cloud UC plan. Because hybrid deployments are more complex than complete cloud deployments, you will need to consider on-site equipment along with your cloud service providers. You will have to deal with session border controllers, cloud connectors, and a variety of technologies along with video and hard phone infrastructure. If you still have large amounts of physical equipment running on-premise, it will be necessary to manage and monitor it in addition to your cloud infrastructure.
Adopting a hybrid cloud service can be an effective strategy for a business experiencing fast growth. It is, however, important to ascertain how a hybrid solution will affect each aspect of a business, including potential services or applications that may be in the planning for the future.
Whichever cloud based solutions you choose to deploy, your business needs to see the full picture and consider the advantages and/or drawbacks of each. Ultimately, cloud migration is like a physical office move from a small office to a larger one, however in this virtual move, your business could end up with substantial cost savings and greater flexibility.
Please join us for the fourth post in this series, where we will wrap up the discussion by investigating ongoing strategies and gauging the success of your cloud transition.