Now more than ever, businesses need dependable communications no matter what’s going on in the world around them. Certainly, COVID-19 has emphasized this point. Employees need to provide customer service and collaborate with colleagues, even if they’re working from their kitchen table. Organizations can’t afford disruption to their business.

Migrating communications to the cloud has become the way to ensure business continuity. In the third edition of Mitel's EU Cloud Survey, a third of respondents from European companies cited network availability as most important when considering cloud migration. Almost 40% said they want telephony applications to be available 24/7, 365 days a year. Unlike in previous surveys, European businesses are now more focused on network routing capabilities than the merits of cloud-based platforms in general. Service quality and guaranteed availability are paramount. In fact, survey respondents put them above the availability of software applications (17%) or platforms (27%).

Moving your telephony to the cloud is a major undertaking, but it has to happen. Legacy systems are expensive to maintain or become obsolete. However, just moving everything online without due diligence is a recipe for disaster. To ensure your cloud migration is smooth and resilient as you prepare for the big move, consider these three things:

Plan for Now, Plan for the Future

Identify stakeholders and discover their needs. As it does with most large undertakings, doing your homework pays off in the long run. Step one is to identify all the relevant stakeholders—those who will be most impacted by changes in applications and accessibility—and discover what’s most important to them. What are their key workflows? What applications and tools are essential for them to do their work? What’s most likely to be impacted by the migration? After the University of Liverpool completed this process, it was able to develop a detailed deployment plan that took each stakeholder’s unique needs into account. 

What goes and what stays? Once you’ve identified stakeholder needs, decide what will go to the cloud. It doesn’t have to be everything. Examine each application and determine if it makes more sense to migrate it, keep it local or upgrade it to a native cloud application or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application. Evaluate how each decision will impact your overall infrastructure. The discovery and evaluation process may also help you to project future needs. Thirty-six percent of respondents to an ITPro Today study said they plan to use the cloud for advanced functions like warehousing, analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. So, when designing your new infrastructure, be sure to take the long view.

Actively Manage Change

Change can – and usually does – create confusion. That’s why managing that change is half the battle with a project of this scope. In the EU Cloud Survey, over a third of the companies said it was important to consider the costs associated with change management when migrating to the cloud. When designing your cloud migration, identify each significant moving part that could create problems, and develop a plan to mitigate the issues. 

The right team with the right stuff. When you shift applications to the cloud, will you have the IT personnel with the skill set you need? If not, you might have to hire new team members or retrain current employees. Workflows will change. Responsibilities and roles may change. Think ahead and assemble the players you need. Consider forming a dedicated team just to manage the migration. In a survey by McKinsey & Co, companies that had dedicated resources migrated over half (52%) of applications, as opposed to 29% by companies without a dedicated team.

Take it step by step. Experts agree that a phased migration is most likely to be successful. During the discovery phase, identify the applications that are essential to your stakeholders and pay particular attention to how those systems will migrate. To avoid disruption, take it slow. For example, the University of Liverpool connected the VoIP infrastructure into an existing Siemens ISDX to avoid service disruption.

Test for Resilience Before Migration

Because resilience is so crucial to the business, it pays to prepare and test your systems before deployment. Here’s where support from your vendor or partner is essential.

Rehearse. Ask your vendors for demonstrations before you go live. They should be able to walk you through every step in the process. In the EU Cloud Survey, 29% of companies said they’d continue to depend on vendors and partners during deployment.

Access to real-time data. Because there will be bumps along the way, make sure you’ll have access to real-time data in case you want to step back and change your plan.

Test back-up systems. What’s your back-up and recovery plan? Can you protect the critical systems that the business needs? An IDC report found that organizations spend only 12.4% of their IT budget on recovery systems. Preparing for cloud migration is a good time to reevaluate your back-up solutions to make sure they’re strong and aligned with the company’s business strategy. 

Moving your communications to the cloud shouldn’t be scary. With a strong partner and good preparation, you can reassure your stakeholders—and yourself—that the migration will go smoothly.

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