Moving UC applications into the cloud will change the dynamic of network traffic. Yes, the company will free up bandwidth in its wide area network (WAN) as applications like email and videoconferencing move out of the on-premise data centre. However, as more enterprise applications move into the cloud, it becomes harder to manage and control performance as it relates to service level agreements (SLAs). Enterprises need to have granular, real-time control over applications in the cloud in order to address issues such as load balancing, encryption, and routing and policy enforcement that can impact performance. In addition, enterprises need to make sure that their cloud-based applications can support multiple network modalities, as cloud communications are often characterised by a mobile workforce with different paths of network access.
Re-integrating applications and data such as interactive voice response (IVR) systems and corporate directories (e.g. Microsoft Active Directory) with a cloud platform can take time and require special interworking-a consideration that also comes into play as employees access cloud applications through a variety of mobile devices. Do not expect cloud providers to handle interworking or legacy software vendors to support the latest cloud technologies. Instead, look for specialised devices such as SBCs and signaling gateways to provide the necessary interworking.
Even small changes in the user experience can have a disruptive effect on user adoption of cloud UC and result in lower-than-expected productivity gains. For this reason, it is important that enterprises re-train users on the nuances of the new system early in the process and clearly communicate new features to the user community. Device and application support is also central to the user experience. If the move to a cloud-based platform includes new soft clients or policies around the types of devices and apps supported, this also needs to be included in the re-training process.
While the benefits of a cloud-based UC solution can yield dividends both in reduced costs and increased productivity, enterprises need to make sure the migration from the on-premise data centre to the cloud is as seamless as possible. A phased migration approach can be beneficial in many cases as a way to gauge and address user issues early in the process, as well as provide a fallback in case issues with critical legacy applications arise down the road. An enterprise may wish to begin by migrating communications for select offices to the cloud, or by migrating specific communications applications (e.g. Voice over IP, audioconferencing, etc.) into the cloud. In both cases, if an organisation aligns its cloud migration plan where the return on investment is highest and where productivity can be improved the most, they will find that unifying communications in the cloud can work for their business.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.