Considering moving some of your telecom assets and applications to the cloud? Just like any other move, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Companies need to think strategically about everything from costs, scalability and increased flexibility, to how the cloud will impact how team members work. Before making the leap and even thinking about comparing cloud-based solutions, whether it’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or cloud-based Unified Communications (UC) tools, organizations should perform a sort of ‘service inventory’ outlining what their existing environment looks like today, what existing contractual obligations may exist and how their existing environment’s services at might look in a cloud environment. This article will highlight critical questions teams should ask themselves when building their telecom service inventory. Because asking the right questions now could save thousands of dollars and countless headaches once a cloud migration begins.
What’s your current UC environment look like?
The ubiquity of mobile services is changing the nature of how we work. UC platforms offer advanced voice capabilities with IM messaging, conferencing, mobility, and collaborative applications which enable real-time communications anytime, anywhere, and via any device. As workers become more virtual and mobile, UC platforms are also moving up the food chain in terms of how enterprises see them. Because of this shift, there’s a growing appeal of the cloud-delivered, hybrid UC models, and UC-as-a-service models. If your company is looking at migrating from an on-premise UC solution, there are several important questions to answer. Start by looking at your current phone system and communication requirements and how those will play out with an IP-based integrated and mobile-centric services UC platform.
- What features do you currently have? Ask what sort of conference services, instant messaging, document sharing and mobile functionality you have today. Are all those features critical to have in your cloud-based solution? What features are nice to have and which are essential?
- What type of Private Branch Exchange (PBX) functionality you have today? Do you have an IP PBX or a conventional PBX? Do you need the more advanced features, analytics, and controls found in a contact center environment? What will that look like in the cloud?
- Do you have the bandwidth to support a “cloud strategy?
By understanding how your team uses your UC solution for collaboration with all teams, including remote employees, business partners, and customers the organization can determine what features and level of control they’ll require for a cloud-based IP phone system.
What software applications are you running?
If your organization is growing but doesn’t want to make a substantial investment in servers, data centers, or additional personnel, and you’re looking to extend the life of laptops and computers, you may be considering a Desktop-as-a-Service solution. A cloud-hosted virtual desktop solution gives companies the ability to provide applications, content, and data anytime, and from any device while simplifying desktop operations. Organizations can also rely on less expensive machines, including computers with less memory, processing power, or those with high-end graphics cards, for instance, resulting in lower computer costs. Before looking for a DaaS solution ask yourself these questions:
- What type of applications do your users need access to? Is it simply Office 365 and Salesforce, or are there homegrown applications they require, like an application to help technicians during a customer installation? Or are there industry-specific applications like the 3D design and modeling tools?
- Is BYOD a consideration? Does your team offer ‘company-issued equipment’ or is BYOD standard?
- What about mobility? Is your team traveling or on the road? Do they require access to their desktop via smartphones and tablets?
What’s your server and infrastructure inventory look like?
If your company is looking to virtualize some of its infrastructure components (i.e., computer, storage, and networking), first look at what your server inventory looks like today, including server technical specs and bandwidth requirements.
- Look at bandwidth requirements vs. workloads? Ask your team how much bandwidth will be required for the workloads you’ll be deploying? This might include communication between the various deployed components, like storage and other servers. Understanding your latency requirements could affect raw bandwidth needs.
- What networking equipment is being used today and how much control does your team want to retain? Review controls for switches, routers, firewalls, updates, antivirus, etc. What does your team want to retain control of?
- Review other operational needs? With this baseline, you’ll know what is needed to support users and you’ll be able to make a list for other operational needs where you might want support, like maintenance, upgrades, and backups, for example.