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Migrating to Cisco Unified Communications Platform Checklist and Strategy

IR Media

Written by IR Media

media@ir.com

More organizations are choosing Cisco as their preferred platform for integrated unified communications (UC), collaboration, video conferencing and contact center solutions.

Whether your organization is considering a complete migration to Cisco, or an extension or upgrade of your current setup, this guide highlights critical areas to address along your journey, proven tactics to successfully manage the transition and a strategic migration assurance checklist.

Any change or update to your organization’s infrastructure can involve a major investment of money, time and resources. It’s important to know why you’re doing it and what you’re hoping to achieve.

Before you start, ask yourself some basic questions. Are you:

  • Replacing an aging system?
  • Implementing additional functionality?
  • Looking to implement the productivity gains that Cisco provides?
  • Investing to gain financial savings?
  • Taking advantage of the Cisco Flex Licensing opportunity to test the water in the cloud?

Answering these questions will help you start a plan, identify stakeholders and determine how to measure success.

It’s also important to remember that all IT projects involve three key components; people, process and technology. The people aspect is too often neglected; however, it is usually the people that are going to make or break the project. Communicate to your people early and often, clearly articulating the vision, to get their buy-in and make them feel like active participants in the process.

This guide breaks migration planning and execution down into the 4 phases of the migration lifecycle:

01: Understanding Your Environment 02: The Migration 03: Ensuring Stability
(on-going monitoring)
04: Run State
  • Pre-migration testing & assessment
  • Scoping the migration
  • Track migration & monitor performance
  • Train users and track adoption
  • Analyze & remediate
  • Rapid & predictive troubleshooting
  • Measuring usage & ROI

01: Understanding Your Environment

Before you start, it is imperative to understand your current UC ecosystem, network quality and capacity. Stress testing critical components will help ensure compliance with quality and performance, as well as aligning key business drivers and system requirements.

Pre-migration testing and assessment – test technical deployment and network architecture:

  • Check the health of your network.

  • Check network connectivity.

  • Note the tools and resources you require to set up a test environment.

  • Document the tools and techniques you use to ensure the proper assessment and provisioning of the underlying network.

  • Take baseline measurements of existing usage prior to deploying new Cisco UC, Collaboration and Video Conferencing platform.

  • Assess whether the test environment is scalable to test larger or more complex deployments.

  • Record the existing systems (e.g. ticketing, monitoring, etc.) that will need to be updated or reconfigured for your new Cisco UC ecosystem.

  • Plan back-ups of all databases impacted by migration.

  • Ensure that you have the necessary license files for the new release.

    • Use the Prognosis license report to monitor the Cisco licenses in use and relinquish any licenses you are paying for but not using.
      TIP: there may be a massive cost saving to be made here!
  • Utilize an end-to-end testing solution to pinpoint weaknesses in network and infrastructure.

Scoping the migration:

  • Plan migration in phases or controls groups, rolling out smaller locations before moving critical functionalities/departments to new Cisco platform. Apply lessons learned to each new phase.

  • Determine whether you need to deploy new end-point hardware – phones, headsets, video conferencing devices, etc.

  • Check that the software version you are upgrading from is running on  virtual machine.

    • Determine whether you need to update the virtual machine configuration.
  • Identify whether you can upgrade or migrate directly from your current installed version, or whether you need to upgrade or migrate to an intermediate version before proceeding.

  • Identify the type of deployment you have – on-premise, hosted, managed service, private or public cloud, or hybrid.

  • Utilize Cisco’s suggested upgrade documentation based on the needs of your deployment and the recommended upgrade or migration method.

  • Verify whether your existing servers or network will meet the requirements of the release you are migrating to. If it doesn’t (or if you are changing vendors) move your deployment to a supported hardware platform.

  • Leverage multi-vendor, network and UC performance management, monitoring and troubleshooting tools with end-to-end visibility to ensure success of your migration.

02: The Migration

When migrating or upgrading, it is vital to have a robust Cisco monitoring and troubleshooting solution in place to give you the migration assurance you need to mitigate risk. Third party monitoring tools, like Prognosis, can help manage this process by providing end-to-end visibility of your new and legacy UC ecosystem and simplifying troubleshooting during these transitions.

Track migration success and monitor performance:

  • Use pre-migration discovery findings to ensure minimal impact to end-user during transition.

  • Check connectivity of all systems to CUCM – including IM and Presence.

  • Collect configuration and login information.

  • Record the registered device count, number of assigned users and key parameters.

  • Export user records.

  • If your organization is deploying a hybrid environment, determine whether the on-premises equipment (SBC’s, video equipment, etc.) will operate smoothly with your managed or hosted service provider.

  • Ensure you have end-to-end visibility to quickly diagnose voice or video quality problems.

  • Define your success criteria (e.g. call quality, user-experience, timing, cost, etc.).

  • Perform regular and ongoing testing to confirm that you are delivering on quality expectations and meeting internal service level requirements.

  • Have a clear understanding of the features available in your geographic region (e.g. PSTN calling plans and availability).

  • Deploy and turn-up new UC platform – hardware, applications, databases, end-point devices, etc.

  • Verify critical services are up and running, then begin validating all other connected applications are operational and have migrated to new platform.

Train users and track adoption:

  • Ensure all departments are receiving training from your internal IT team.

  • Determine how will you track adoption and usage patterns in your environment.

  • From a licensing perspective, allocate the right mix of features and functions for each type of user.

  • Track whether users are effectively adopting new Cisco UC features and applications.

  • Don’t give users excessive features that they do not need.

  • Throughout the migration journey, communicate clearly to users about what changes they will experience (e.g. lost/added features).

  • Ensure your plan has realistic expectations that are aligned with your desired outcome. Have reporting available to track usage, user experience, performance and utilization of new Cisco UC, collaboration and video conference platform and end-points.

03: Ensuring Stability (on-going monitoring)

Once you have deployed your new technology, the key to long-term success is to provide ongoing support to end-users. Make sure you have systems in place to continue to refine tools and processes, and gauge progress as time goes on.

Analyze and remediate:

  • Determine your support model now that your organization has deployed the solution and users have migrated to the new Cisco UC platform.

  • Put in place a dependable and efficient method of identifying and correcting failures or enabling features for users.

  • Continue to refine processes for monitoring and managing your environment.

  • Evaluate the ability to leverage APIs to integrate UC platforms into business process applications?

  • Ensure you can troubleshoot issues reported by the users effectively and easily.

  • Set threshold alerts to preemptively avoid costly service outages.

  • Establish reporting that provide an understanding of your calling patterns to ensure you are meeting SLAs.

  • If you chose a hybrid environment, understand your on-premises infrastructure and how it relates to your cloud providers, so you can monitor performance in real-time.

  • Have clear demarcation points of UC environment component ownership to ensure success and speed any issue resolution (e.g. internal IT, UC provider, and telecommunications provider).

Rapid and predictive troubleshooting:

  • Have adequate support staff or help available to answer questions and provide Cisco UC troubleshooting capabilities.

  • Before problems arise, ensure you have the tools in place to quickly pinpoint and resolve them.

  • Have a performance monitoring solution that will enable you to pre-emptively avoid costly outages by providing alerts before problems occur.

  • Get tools in place to monitor, report and troubleshoot all aspects of Cisco UC ecosystem to optimize overall performance.

04: Run State

As with any project undertaken in a business environment, it is important to be able to show evidence to support ROI as a measure of success.

  • Track your return on investment (ROI) to determine if you realize the ROI expectations made during your initial forecasts.

  • Create utilization and adoption reporting using a tool that provides complete visibility across entire UC ecosystem and network infrastructure.

  • Determine if you were able to successfully and effectively manage costs during the migration to Cisco UC platform.

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Topics: UCaaS management Voice system testing Real-time monitoring Cisco