Migrating Collaboration Workloads to Cloud – Part 2

In part 1, I discussed multiple cloud solution options for collaboration services and a sample decision tree to help decide the right cloud option (WebEx, UCM, HCS). Then, I touched upon hybrid cloud connector which not only acts as a way to burst into cloud for additional capacity but it provides interoperability and serves as an interim stage for customers who are moving their collaboration workloads form on-prem to pure cloud.

In this part, I would like to share a sample plan on what is actually involved in migrating to cloud. I will pick on on-prem Meeting solution as an example. But why Meeting solution ? On-Prem Meeting solution has the least operational complexity and 3rd party integration points as compared to Calling and Messaging solutions and makes a good candidate for migration. Secondly many customers who has on-prem Meeting solution has connectivity to WebEx cloud through the CMR (Collaboration Meeting Room) add-on solution.

On-Prem Meeting Solution Building Blocks

Lets understand the key building blocks and associated components of the on-prem Meeting solution which is shown below in Figure 1. These blocks are categorized under core and extension blocks. Core blocks provides essential video communications and the video calls stay within a siloed IT environment. With extension blocks, it is possible to extend the video communications towards PSTN, B2B, MRA and WebEx services allowing broader reachability.

Figure 1 – Core and Extension Blocks of On-Prem Meeting Solution

The next 2 sub-sections describes the WebEx edge and Hybrid connector blocks as these were developed specifically for on-prem to WebEx cloud connectivity and these are relatively new solutions.

Edge To Cloud

WebEx edge block is relatively new add-on solution powered by expressways that provides a private cloud connection from your on-prem data center to the WebEx cloud through partner interconnects (e.g., Equinix..). This solution also allows WebEx to localize meetings within the customers network using strategically deployed WebEx Video Mesh conferencing services. It is deployed in on-prem data centers for localizing video traffic but fully managed from cloud.

Hybrid, The Bridge

WebEx hybrid services are a group of services hosted on-prem which integrates Cisco WebEx services with the on-prem IT services. These services include calendar services, directory services, call services and data security services. For example, calendar service which integrates with exchange or O365 enable OBTP (One-Button-To-Push) call launch for the video devices.

Envision The Final State

Once the on-prem solution building blocks are understood, its important to know what the final state of the solution looks like after the migration to the cloud is complete. In this final state we can envision the following:

  1. Video devices are registered to the WebEx cloud by leveraging its native Calling and Meeting capabilities.
  2. Existing user workflows are preserved or augmented as a result of migration to the WebEx cloud
  3. Video Conferences that are initiated from on-prem video devices are hosted on the WebEx video mesh as the primary bridge and spill over to WebEx cloud if the capacity exceeds
  4. CUCM still exists but provide minimum services like routing calls to the PSTN gateways.
  5. On-prem scheduling and conferencing services are retired eventually.

Retain, Replace or Retire Strategy

With the final state in mind, below you can see a simple framework to understand which solution blocks could be retained, replaced or retired based on your business requirements. As obvious not all on-prem building blocks are necessary after migration but some of them may need to be retained for short term or to provide some basic services like PSTN.

Description of the terms:

  1. Replace : Replace current application with a new one
  2. Retain: Retain, Obtain or Phase out
  3. Retire: The application is no longer needed
Figure 2 – Retain, Replace and Retire Strategy of On-Prem Meeting Solution

Plan for Migration

Once you document the final state solution and determined the solution blocks necessary for achieving the final state using retain/replace/retire strategy, its time to plan for migration.

Checklist

There are few additional aspects to be considered as pre-requisites during migration planning:

  1. Document your existing user workflow before, during and after the video meetings and make sure if this workflow is still supported when the endpoints are migrated to the WebEx cloud.
  2. Survey your endpoints hardware, software and features to make sure that it is supported in the WebEx cloud and if there aren’t any unsupported devices.
  3. Make sure you have the new support model and your video operations team is trained on WebEx Control Hub
  4. Migration scripts can be used to speedup the migration. Cisco can help with this process

Migration Timeline

Depending on your size and spread of the Video endpoints, this would be probably a phased migration as opposed to flash cut. Developing a migration timeline with milestones and resources needed at each stage is important. Whether you want to start from migrating certain building floors, then entire building, then campuses or region based migration. All these aspects needs to be well documented and communicated to stakeholders and actual users.

Summary

We started off this part by understanding the building blocks of the on-prem Meeting solution and elaborated on the WebEx Edge and Hybrid Connectors blocks. Then we imagined a final state Cloud Meeting solution and created a retain, replace and retire strategy for each of building blocks. Finally we laid out migration checklist and discussed the importance of the migration timeline. I hope this would be a good companion resource as you plan and prepare for migration in your unique situation.

Good luck with your journey to ‘Meet in Cloud’ !

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