Two of the biggest trends in business today are unified communications and the cloud. But companies that wish to combines these concepts by moving their unified communications apps to the cloud should use caution, according to Gurmeet Lamba (News - Alert), vice president of Research and Development, unified communications management at OPNET. The process is a lot more complicated that it might seem.
In an exclusive interview with TMC (News - Alert), Lamba pointed out that UC voice and video components are quite sensitive to problems in a server or on a network, since those communications are working in real-time. He urges companies to keep this in mind when migrating to the cloud, advising them not to base the migration on “hope and hype.”
He points out that the mere mention of the cloud seems to create both hope and hype, and that companies should disregard these in favor of data, metrics and best practices. “SLAs are your friend in this space,” he says, and a key to making UC migration to the cloud successful.
In terms of best practices, Lamba recommends a four-step process: benchmarking, modeling, migrating and validating.
In the UC space, users need to “go deep.” They must benchmark what works in their current deployment and how well it works, in terms of service, availability, etc. This should involve automated testing and QoS analysis for each branch office, monitoring call traffic, failed calls, etc. Companies should benchmark UC-specific metrics including service availability and performance. They need to validate what works and what doesn’t, so they are not chasing red herrings after the migration. If they see what is wrong now, they can focus on new problems later. Also, Lamba urges companies to benchmark from an end-user perspective, looking at calls between braches, parking and pick up, how traffic is distributed across a trunk group, etc.
Next, companies need to model how their metrics will change, focusing on areas like network performance, Web service performance and more. In UC, it is important to calculate how traffic is distributed across trunks and how that will evolve. Lamba suggest starting with some basic computations on the network, servers, performance, traffic distribution, etc.
Finally, once the migration is complete, companies need to validate the migration using the benchmarks. Does the new arrangement perform? If not, why not? In UC, with voice and video, it is important to perform automated testing to validate service availability before and after. Lamba recommends looking at call patterns and distribution over multiple weeks before and after migration. He says companies should also look at configuration and set up before and after. Any changes should be explainable or problems may rear their ugly heads in the future.
Ultimately, with UC, companies need to go beyond what they would do for non-real-time apps, given the sensitivity of voice and video to network conditions, virtualization and cloud deployments.
Edited by Jamie Epstein