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Taking a Staged Approach to Cloud Communications

Moving communications workloads into the public cloud can deliver lower operating costs and produce IT environments that offer rapid, integrated, automated development and operations. But for organizations that have complex IT architectures, transitioning communications applications and data to public cloud platforms will involve a set of technology, security, operational, and financial issues that can hinder implementations.

Take It In Stages

Best practices advice is not to jump into the migration. Rather, take it in phases. By blending public and private cloud solutions into hybrid cloud configurations you should be able to take advantage of cloud services with little or no disruption to your IT architecture and operations. However, do take care in estimating the operating costs of a hybrid configuration and in considering the sequence of functions you want to move to the cloud with an eye on meeting your goals while minimizing risk.

And remember, you're giving control of your applications to someone else. Make the migration project a dedicated, not part-time, assignment. As much as possible, look for an agile solution and streamlined operation using automated services. Above all, keep in mind that you're also changing your security solutions to an external party.

Suggested Stages

Migrating communications functions -- basic telephone services, UC, or contact center -- to a public cloud can be both beneficial and risky. Before you dismantle your private cloud functions, make sure the public cloud works the way you want for at least 30 days. That way you'll have a fallback position in case the public function doesn't work as expected. If you're phasing in many users, don't eliminate the private system until you're sure the public system can handle all your users and their peak traffic demands.

When you're planning your migration, the best choice is to start with communications applications that can deliver performance improvements or cost savings with low risk. Establish a statement or policy for assessing applications with respect to the performance and cost considerations. Then have the staffs from business, application development, and IT infrastructure conduct the assessments and evaluate the applications accordingly.

Here's is suggested phased approach for a cloud migration:

  • Start with basic telephony services
  • When the telephony is acceptable, add messaging services
  • Next, add voice, video, and screen sharing conferencing services
  • Add the contact center
  • If you don't have omnichannel, add it now
  • Implement communications platform as a service (CpaaS) with your applications and website

Issues to Consider

No matter how you decide to make the cloud move, the following issues are worth exploring:

  • Are there any application dependencies that may hinder your implementation and cause failures?
  • Have you accounted for your present security controls, at a minimum, for the communications services you'll be getting from a cloud platform?
  • Will the cloud platform handle your regulatory requirements, both domestically and internationally? Do any applications consume services or data that you are or aren't planning to move to the cloud?
  • Is your management system and other elements of your infrastructure and architecture suitable for a hybrid solution?
  • Will you need to rewrite code and change configurations to implement a public/private cloud solution?
  • What are the total planning and implementation costs, as well as costs associated with decommissioning the existing solutions?
  • Will you be able to reduce utility costs?
  • What are the business risks if you do or don't implement a hybrid solution?

Don't Forget the Network

Lastly, as you plan your cloud migration, don't forget to evaluate your network connections for quality of service, bandwidth, reliability, and availability. If you've implemented a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solution, make sure it has enough capacity to support the migrated functions and traffic. If you don't have an SD-WAN, you should consider implementing it yourself or contracting with an SD-WAN service provider. You don't want network limitations to lead to dissatisfaction with the cloud services.