7 Steps To Ensure A Successful Migration To Cloud Communications

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Migrating mission-critical services to the cloud are an increasingly popular choice amongst UK businesses. According to the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), cloud adoption rates are at 88%, with 67% of companies set to accelerate cloud migration in 2017.

Communications are also slowly shifting into the cloud, with large and small businesses keen to reduce costs, remove barriers and improve productivity with a Unified Communications (UC) strategy.

Businesses are starting to see the value in unified, cloud-based communication. Right now, organisations often have too much choice, leading to confusing, costly and overlapping communication channels: Landline, mobile, email, online messaging, and Voice over Internet Protocol services (VoIP), social media and numerous others. Migrating to the cloud simplifies, unites overlapping services, and generates positive time efficiencies and cost savings.

Undertaking a successful cloud migration means designing and implementing a plan. Here we share seven important steps you need to put in place to ensure a UC strategy launches successfully:

#1: Determine Your Goals
Before you migrate anything to the cloud, you need to decide what you want to achieve. Saving money, time and improving processes are useful general guiding principles, but you need to work towards specific goals to ensure a migration generates positive results.

Designing a UC strategy starts with an assessment of your current communication technologies and platforms, with a focus on why they're inefficient and need improvements.

#2: Assess Current Situation
Conduct an audit on your current communication infrastructure:

  • Make a list of the number of platforms and technologies used for internal and external communications.
  • Determine if they are self-hosted or already in the cloud.
  • Assess volume of communication through each channel.
  • Assess the cost impact over the year, including any downtime and support contract costs.
  • What are the costs of continuing to run your own physical servers, including property, security and backup support.
  • Evaluate current security systems and costs, and whether they are adequate to protect your communication infrastructure from modern threats.
#3: Design Objectives & Aims
Now you have an idea what your communication infrastructure currently looks like; you can create an outline of what you want to achieve.

Do you want to simplify channels? Improve security? Reduce the risk of downtime and get more value for money from your support provider? Design SMART objectives, working with the relevant internal stakeholders. Have a game plan before engaging any external provider, or shortlist of potential providers.

#4: Select the Right Partner
Moving voice, collaboration and communication channels to the cloud is not easy, especially when you have overlapping technologies and platforms. You need to the right partner to plan, migrate and provide on-going support.

Telecommunications partners with a strong reputation, known for delivering migration projects for small, medium and enterprise clients are ideal. Especially when they have extensive experience delivering best-of-breed solutions across a wide variety of complex environments, including when communications are hybrid - mixing on-premises, public and private.

Ensure you are working with a company that can provide examples of migrating communications from something resembling your current situation to one reflecting your goals.

#5: Select the Cloud Environment - Public, Private or Hybrid
We could write a lot about 'public', 'private' and 'hybrid' cloud environments, but we want to keep things simple.

Public clouds are where your services/channels - telephony, collaboration, customer services - are operating in public data centres, with thousands of other companies. Amazon, Google and Microsoft are some of the biggest names in this space, alongside dozens of others.

Private clouds are servers you own and control. This involves extensive and costly hardware investments, which is why more companies are moving away from self-owned systems.

Hybrid - a mix of public and private servers - is proving the most popular option, with 71% of companies preferring a hybrid solution, to reduce costs, whilst retaining some control over the most sensitive aspects of their communication channels, according to RightScale's State of the Cloud report.

#6: Plan the Migration
Once you have a clear idea what is being migrated, where it is going and what technology is being deployed, you can plan the migration, working with your telecoms partner.

Most companies start with a test migration. Keeping it small and simple. Internal communications and collaboration tools are a good starting point. Have a plan for this aspect of the migration, and then using this test data, design a more detailed plan that should include the following:
  • Migration order of priorities.
  • What a successful migration looks like, including milestones, timescales and metrics.
  • Who is responsible for what (internal teams, managers, external providers, etc.).
  • What training and new processes should come into play before, during, and after the migration.
  • Backup everything - before and after the migration. Ensure part of this migration includes an active emergency backup plan and facilities.
#7: Migrate, Tweak and Monitor
Migrating everything to the cloud could take weeks or months, depending on the complexity of your communication needs and channels, and how easily your organisation can untangle legacy systems. Backup everything before starting the migration. Staff may also need to get used to new technology and processes, so have training plans in place.

Once everything is successfully migrated to the new environment(s), keep testing and tweaking until your communication channels are operating smoothly. Test and monitor carefully for a while after, before you officially sign-off on a successful migration.

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