ipc-migrate-uc-to-cloudIn our last post, we discussed the importance of taking a measured approach when migrating from legacy phone systems to modern unified communications (UC) systems. Such moves deliver undeniable business benefits, but they also require careful planning and diligent management to minimize operational disruptions.

The rise of cloud-based UC platforms seems to offer a far less complex path to migration. While UC-as-a-Service solutions do create advantages in flexibility, scalability and manageability, they nevertheless require thoughtful and deliberate preparation.

The UCaaS model allows you to access enterprise-class UC technology and applications on any Internet-connected device for a monthly fee. There’s no need to purchase, configure, deploy and manage on-premises gear. Those costs and responsibilities are shifted to a service provider.

UCaaS is not without risk, however. You might say that risk is simply rearranged. UCaaS eases the burden on your internal infrastructure, but increases your dependence on a service provider’s network and the public Internet. Network congestion, latency and configuration errors can result in unpredictable performance. Such unpredictability may be tolerable for cloud-based storage, but it can wreck communications through the introduction of latency, jitter and packet loss.

Because UC places considerable demands on IP networks, a thorough network assessment is an indispensable first step when beginning a transition to UCaaS. This process is key to ensuring that both your network environment and the carrier connection to the cloud can handle the workload.

This process will involve running frequent and simultaneous tests of voice, video and collaboration applications to establish quality benchmarks and identify any potential chokepoints. The provider should be able to demonstrate and modify the behavior of switches and routers, shape traffic, and control the flow of data packets.

You should also test to ensure that UC works reliably over a Wi-Fi connection. As the mobile workforce continues to grow, providing voice, video and collaboration across the wireless LAN has become a business imperative. Moving UC traffic moving over a WLAN requires different service values and traffic-prioritization standards than in wired networks.

ShoreTel Connect CLOUD does a great job of addressing all of these issues. The ShoreTel solution can be delivered through either public Internet circuits or via dedicated Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) circuits, with a managed router placed on premises. If the Internet is used, there are options for configuration assistance to implement Quality of Service (QoS).

An experienced ShoreTel partner such as IPC can help further ease the transition. When a new installation is planned, we make it standard practice to conduct assessments to ensure that voice traffic is prioritized through the circuit.

And with ShoreTel, UCaaS migration does not have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. ShoreTel’s hybrid option offers a way to transition some systems to the cloud while continuing to run others on premises. This is a great choice for companies that have hardware assets that are not fully depreciated. It also makes sense for multisite organizations that want to get on a single system — you can keep your onsite installation in headquarters while adding remote locations via the cloud.

While UCaaS is not without challenges, there is a widespread perception among telecommunication experts and industry analysts that UCaaS will inevitably overtake on-premises solutions as the platform of choice for organizations of all sizes. ShoreTel Connect CLOUD, backed by IPC’s expertise, can help make the transition easier.