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POTS Be Gone: Legacy Tech Migrations Still an IT Priority


A cloud graphic
Image: Skorzewiak - Alamy Stock Vector
I’ve always loved the term plain old telephone service (POTS). It’s so folksy and unassuming. It’s also very clearly a product of a monopoly system, where the technology provider didn’t have to worry about any competition. Can you imagine a marketer today at any tech company — or any cereal company, for that matter — labeling their product “plain-old” anything?
In the era of Zoom, ideation boards, augmented reality glasses, and the like, POTS has never seemed more plain or old. And now much of the regulation that governed POTS for over a century is going away, and even the most cutting-edge enterprises may feel an effect.
Throughout the first half of this year, No Jitter has been covering the carriers’ planned sunsetting of POTS, with several posts offering practical advice to prepare for a post-POTS world. POTS lines remain in many enterprises, serving elevator phones, alarm systems, and other legacy endpoints where it hasn’t seemed worth the trouble to replace analog. This week, consultant Aaron Stoermann of Spend Nova Consulting has a post dealing with the challenge of carriers actually raising prices on POTS. Consultant Molly Zraik has also weighed in with advice on No Jitter.
The retirement of POTS is one milestone in enterprises’ migration away from legacy technologies. The overarching trend, of course, is the move to the cloud. At Enterprise Connect 2022 last March, consultant Steve Leaden of Leaden Associates delivered a presentation titled, “NOT Moving to the Cloud: What are Your Risks?” Steve began that talk with a couple of key points:
  • A significant portion of the premises UC market (TDM, VoIP) is at end-of-support.
  • Risks associated with end-of-support UC include lack of help desk/support; having to use all refurbished replacement parts; the risk of a multi-day outage; and a declining number of technicians available to support the system.
The vendors don’t talk much about premises-based UC systems anymore; their R&D is essentially directed exclusively to their cloud offerings. But that doesn’t mean every enterprise has to move to the cloud. Melissa Swartz of Swartz Consulting pointed out on No Jitter that she still has clients that wind up choosing premises systems for new procurements. “It’s definitely not a case of one size fits all, ” she concludes.
If you’re a large enough enterprise, you’re likely to be grappling with some or all these legacy issues somewhere in your installed base. The technology may be plain and old, but the money at stake may be considerable — so they’ll continue to be important topics to follow.