Three Simple Steps to Avoid Common Cisco HCS Cloud Migration Pitfalls

Cloud communications can deliver significant business advantages by helping organizations to cut costs and streamline deployments while ultimately improving overall collaboration. To help businesses migrate communications to the cloud and leverage those benefits, Cisco offers its Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS).

While HCS greatly facilitates the migration from on-premise to cloud communications, it is still a complex process. A growing number of Cisco partners specialize in HCS solutions with deep expertise. They continue to build best practices for Cisco HCS deployments.

Through our own experience, tekVizion has identified a number of simple pitfalls that Cisco partners and customers can easily avoid to streamline their migration – allowing them to maximize the benefit of a cloud-based HCS communications system. They might seem like common sense, but these simple tips will accelerate the book-to-bill cycle for all HCS partners.

1.     Always run your test plan before the actual migration to give yourself a baseline. It seems logical enough, but you’d be surprised at how many migrations overlook this simple step. This is partly because verification is largely seen as a process for the end of any deployment to validate that it is working properly. The problem is that without running the test plan upfront — before the migration — you’ll have no baseline to understand how the new cloud solution has improved on the former system you are replacing. Or even if it has improved the solution at all.

 This hits on a bigger issue regarding testing in general. Testing and verification should be an integral part of any tech deployment all the way from the initial planning through to ongoing maintenance. This is how you measure and understand performance. Further, the verification process provides tremendous insight into where problems and even potential issues lie, allowing you to address them and maximize uptime.

For example, pre-testing the quality of your LAN network before migration gives you a baseline to understand how bandwidth might cause call issues. It can help you rule out networking as a problem and save a great deal of time in troubleshooting throughout the migration.

2.     Migrating to the cloud is almost always a phased approach. Plan and design for interoperability through the entire migration process. While migrating to the cloud has gotten easier, especially with solutions such as Cisco HCS, it’s not yet as simple as flipping a switch. Especially for companies migrating from a complex on-premise system. Most communications systems today are comprised of multiple applications in a mixed environment. The more complex your legacy communications system and more sites there are to transition, the more challenging the overall migration.

This typically calls for a phased approach and many companies will ease into a cloud-based communications system with a hybrid solution that continues to leverage some of the on-premise resources you have. That can be a smart way to take advantage of existing assets while also gaining the benefits of the cloud. But it’s still imperative to focus on interoperability between the premise systems and Cisco HCS through each phase.

For example, we were engaged with a partner whose customer migration was in jeopardy. After a deep dive into the issue, we discovered that the design for the phased migration was incorrect. The route patterns created on the on-premise PBX and the cloud PBX were too generic. This caused a call loop when dialing certain numbers, which in turn caused the system to exceed the CPU capacity and crash. Proper planning upfront and ongoing testing could have avoided this painful issue.

3.     Upgrade phone firmware to match the target firmware prior to migrating. This is especially important in moving from an on-premise system to a cloud-based solution such as HCS. By completing the firmware upgrade on the original on-premise PBX before migrating to HCS, the network will not be overloaded by hundreds of phones pulling down firmware to upgrade once they are brought online on the target HCS instance. Why wait until after migrating to HCS to find out if an endpoint will work with the new system? If the goal is to accelerate the deployment and get the new cloud system up and running with optimal performance quickly, then upfront planning is key and that includes firmware. This simple step will save a lot of time in the upgrade cycle.

Again, it may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many organizations overlook this step. It’s much easier to upgrade to verified firmware before the migration than to try to find what’s incompatible and not working after you’ve deployed.

This underscores the importance of better planning and building verification into every step of multi-phased migration projects. The good news is that verification can be streamlined and even automated to save both time and money. Look for automated solutions that can help you run that initial test plan before migration and continue to verify changes throughout all phases of the migration. It can even help you identify where firmware or an endpoint is not working properly.

Also consider the need to test and verify after the migration is complete to avoid any issues that may arise from changes to the system, such as routine updates, software upgrades and deployment of new technologies. We are in an increasingly fast changing IT landscape and staying abreast of potential pitfalls can deliver significant competitive advantage. Regular and even continuous verification can help you to stay up and running. It’s all about preempting the disconnect.

For more tips on HCS pitfalls, see our Infographic at and stay tuned for more blogs on HCS.

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