What IT Teams Need to Consider Before a UC&C Migration
Unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) is becoming a staple of today’s enterprise, and of greater importance as businesses of all sizes grapple with remote workforces and maintaining business collaboration and agility. Where UC&C used to be a nice-to-have business option, organizations now see significant value in replacing their legacy voice equipment, messaging systems, and conferencing solutions with a single, cohesive platform. UC&C is ideal for enterprises with multiple locations or remote workers and whose IT staff prefer not to manage PBX and PSTN trunking.
This blog looks at a few different UC&C migration strategies, the types of migrations they’re most suited for, as well as highlights of planning and testing.
The Foundations of UC&C Migrations
A shift to UC&C is a major undertaking, and businesses need to carefully consider the process in terms of time, money and resources. Choosing the right migration approach reduces a lot of pain points.
One part of migration is the conversion of existing telephone lines and ISDN-PRI trunks to SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunking. Moving from a TDM voice infrastructure to SIP makes it much easier to voice-enable the UC&C service an organization selects. A SIP trunk vendor can maintain the required equipment and manage data transmissions, or an organization can choose to manage voice trunking and PBXs themselves. But where businesses really need to focus their migration strategy first is deciding if they’re going to do a complete migration of their communication systems, or dip their toes in the water and take a slower approach, changing a selected number of lines or locations at a time.
Changing a Few Lines or Locations to SIP Trunking
If your business chooses this strategy, it involves a gradual transition of lines to SIP trunking. This is the typical multi-phased approach most enterprises take. It requires a good deal of planning to assess and prioritize groups of users, create a dial plan and features design for the transition, and potentially set up users with dual phones temporarily.
When prioritizing groups, non-critical, non-customer–facing departments should be first. Migrate business-critical departments (call centers, etc.) last, if possible, after resolving issues during earlier migrations.
The gradual transition strategy is low risk—if you encounter a significant issue during any part of the transition, just revert those lines back to PRI, resolve the problem, and start the transition again.
See Unified Communications and Collaboration: Navigating the all-or-nothing misconception for additional details on the phased approach to UC&C migration.
Changing All Lines and Locations to SIP Trunking
This is an all-in approach: the transition is carefully planned and tested, often with vendor bake-offs, and when the time is right, all lines are switched at once. This approach tends to work well for smaller migrations, such as for a branch office. A significant drawback is if a transition fails, everything must be converted back quickly.
A safer but more expensive option is to build a new system, test it thoroughly, and then “flip the switch” to transition from the old system. This approach enables you to thoroughly test and vet the new system while the old system is still in place, offering a softer landing once the migration is complete.
How to Plan and Test a UC&C Migration
Large and small migrations require planning and testing. To make your migration a success, assemble a team of people from various departments to develop a requirements document with realistic objectives and goals, and invite your vendor to join this process as early as possible. Build a migration plan, and make sure you include representatives from groups beyond IT: customer service, employee administration, training, billing, accounting and sales. They can better meet your needs and help you create a more comprehensive plan if they understand all factors involved.
At a minimum, the plan should describe prioritization (the order in which lines/user groups will be transitioned), the migration steps, a communications plan, and the type of training needed for both IT and users.
The larger the migration, the more likely you’ll encounter complexities that were not considered in the planning phase, such as adequate network and Wide Area Network (WAN) bandwidth. Running tests and pilots help to reveal those challenges rather than having to handle them in a live environment. It’s also much safer and greatly reduces risk. Select users from each major department to be part of the test and pilot groups, including non-critical, non-customer–facing users as well as critical, customer-facing users. After testing is completed, consider inviting some trusted customers to participate in the pilot along with employees.
Things to watch for during your SIP pilot:
- User adoption
- Provider’s quality of service (QoS)
- How your internal network interacts with the provider network
- How the service provider responds to problems
Tips for Migrating to UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS)
The basic approaches to SIP trunking also apply to UCaaS, or cloud communications, migrations. In this scenario, the business or organization is opting to do away with legacy Private Branch Exchange (PBX) or other premises voice equipment used to connect to the PSTN in favor of a hosted or cloud communications solution. Because a potential weak point of UCaaS implementation is bandwidth, your first step should be to assess your current bandwidth needs for data transfers and applications.
It’s especially important to consider how much bandwidth you would need to support an upper limit of calls and video conferencing. For example, if your organization typically handles hundreds of calls simultaneously, use that number in your calculations. Also consider expected periods of even higher call volumes. How many video conferences are hosted by employees each day? Adequate bandwidth is critical to ensuring service reliability and quality.
One way to make the transition easier is to engage with professional services through your UC&C vendor to guide you from planning through full implementation, or at least for phases that require expertise you don’t have in-house. It’s easy for IT staff to become overwhelmed with a UC&C migration project while still maintaining their daily workloads. The pressure increases if the planning team failed to properly scope the project in the first place. Arranging for adequate resources is essential to successfully migrating to UC&C.
Simplify your UC&C migration with CenturyLink Voice Complete.
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