Technical Issues to Consider for a Cloud Move
The sales pitch makes a cloud migration sound easy, but that’s not always the case.
A move to the cloud takes preparation and planning. See this article for some steps you can take for advance preparation. In addition, below are some technical considerations that can help ease the transition.
First, your risk is moving from your data center to your connection to the cloud. If you have a premises system now, then you're at risk for a failure of the system in your data center, and for a failure of your connectivity to the outside world (PRIs, SIP trunks, etc.). When you move to a cloud environment, the risk of system failure moves to the cloud provider. Your provider mitigates this risk having multiple data centers, redundancy in power, cooling, etc. and establishing security protocols, among other things.
But for you, all the risk now centers around your ability to connect with that cloud provider. Without that connectivity, your services are either nonexistent or severely compromised. Making sure that this doesn't occur becomes more important than ever when moving communications to the cloud.
You can mitigate this risk in several ways:
- Multiple connections (two or more Internet or MPLS connections from the same provider for backup if a connection fails)
- Multiple providers (connections from different providers to safeguard against connection and provider failures)
- Different types of connections, such as a primary MPLS connection with an Internet connection for backup, or a primary Internet connection with wireless as backup
- On-site device that serves as a backup to the cloud service if connectivity is lost, providing local call processing and storage for recordings and messages
- On-site device that controls routing over multiple connections, always selecting the best connection is always chosen
Costs vary for these options, and you'll need to do some configuration to make failovers seamless. Figuring out the best solution for your situation can take some investigation and analysis.
Second, your infrastructure must be ready for VoIP. Your premises-based system may still support digital phones and/or true analog connections. If you haven't moved to VoIP already, you need to ensure that your network is ready to support it because cloud solutions require IP voice connections. Cloud providers don't support digital devices and require converters for analog devices. The list of infrastructure considerations includes the ability to support Power over Ethernet (PoE), and configuration of your network for quality of service (QoS). You may require new cabling at locations where a phone exists by itself (like a lobby, break room, etc.) and connects by Cat 3 cabling, since this cable doesn’t support VoIP. You may also need additional power and UPS in the closets at the edge.
Third, you must be prepared for porting your numbers. Typically, the cloud provider takes over your phone numbers and points them into its cloud, routing the calls to you over the oh-so-important connection mentioned above. Moving the numbers to the cloud provider is called “porting” the numbers.
The most important thing you can do to prepare for this is to compile an accurate inventory of your existing numbers and identify their use. Sounds easy, right? This is often much harder than it sounds, especially if you have a system that’s been in place for some time.
The first step is to obtain a record of the numbers that your existing carrier thinks you have. Sometimes this list doesn't match what you have in service, and getting corrections made can be a laborious process. Give yourself time to get this done, if needed.
Next, you should work with your cloud provider on your migration strategy. Do you want to have one big move, or are you planning to move more gradually? Can your provider support your strategy? We've seen a lot of variation among providers in the “rules” that govern these moves, so don’t assume anything without talking to your provider about whether they can accommodate your plans.
For a more in depth look at number porting, see this article.
Fourth, ensure your WAN is able to support the increased real time traffic. To do this, you will need a network assessment. Although the scope of a network assessment can vary, in general devices are put onto your network to simulate the voice traffic and the quality is measured. Network assessments can identify configuration issues and ensure that your call quality is satisfactory.
It is important to know the existing utilization rates on your WAN; moving voice onto the WAN will increase traffic so you must be sure that you have the capacity to support it, along with any future growth.
Choosing a solution that provides visibility into the network, and gives you the tools needed to troubleshoot issues, is also important.
A move to the cloud involves a lot of decisions and isn't always as easy as promised by the sales team. Becoming aware of the issues and challenges will help you prepare and improve your chances for success.