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What to do when your video infrastructure faces end-of-life

A few years ago, companies who wanted high-quality, professional video conferencing had to invest in infrastructure to host their meeting service.

It was the wise decision to make at the time. In fact, it was the only decision. The high cost of buying, managing, and supporting this infrastructure? That was simply accepted as a cost of doing business. The way we work is changing, though.

  • Employees are no longer tied to their desks from 9 to 5, and need collaboration tools that work where they do.

  • Teams need a better way to communicate with external organizations who may use different tools. Not everyone has standards-based video conferencing systems today, and there must be a way to use existing systems to communicate with others on Skype for Business and G Suite, and vice versa.

  • Companies are increasingly moving applications to the cloud for scalability, innovation, and the future-proofing of their investments, as well as to capitalize on Opex versus Capex investments. In fact, a recent LogicMonitor study estimates that 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020.

As for video infrastructure? Revenues have declined over the past few years in response to these trends and the growing popularity of cloud-based services.

Video infrastructure is no longer the best answer to most video deployment architectures That doesn’t mean that purpose-built video systems from the likes of Cisco and Polycom have seen their day. Nor does it mean that your existing investment in these devices has become obsolete.

Instead, it means secure, high-quality video conferencing no longer requires you to own video infrastructure; cloud services can accomplish this, while protecting your investments and saving money at the same time.

How to decide between on-prem and cloud

If you’ve received an end-of-sale or end-of-support notice from your video conferencing hardware manufacturer, you’ll need to make a decision about how to move forward. Otherwise, you are setting yourself and your organization up for trouble when your collaboration system breaks and cannot be fixed. Your entire system could go down, and because it is no longer maintained, there would be no way to replace it.

Imagine your C-suite on an important call with investors when the meeting suddenly fails (and cannot be replaced for months)… not a scenario you want to imagine for very long. Fortunately, there are great options to help you future-proof your investments.

First, check your manufacturer’s recommendations and decide on the best option for your organization. For some, on-premise infrastructure will make the most sense. If you work for a highly-secure location that needs to keep all media traffic onsite and away from the public internet, for instance, you might fall into this camp. But before you buy the vendor’s newest hardware product, consider the following:

  • You’re making another capital expenditure that includes not only the hardware itself, but the software licensing and maintenance.

  • You’re likely going to have a single point of failure in this type of environment, as well, so any clustering for availability options is going to be another cost.

  • You’ll need to make sure your IT staff is trained to properly support, configure, and maintain the new equipment, with continuing education to stay up-to-date.

Instead of another on-premise installation, consider a move to the cloud

Many companies find that cloud video conferencing not only meets their current needs for a fraction of the cost, but delivers added benefits that will meet future needs, too.

There is no upfront capital expenditure, and the annual cost is minimal compared to an on-prem system. In fact, many companies simply reallocate their budgeted maintenance cost to a cloud solution, and still save money. Since the service is maintained by the provider, you can reduce help desk calls and IT requests, freeing up your team’s time for more strategic tasks. And, you’ll always have access to the latest and greatest features – no extra purchases needed.

Additionally, the hardware approach limits your geographic reach. While a hardware video bridge in Boston may be fantastic for hosting East Coast meetings, what happens if you need to talk to your London office? Either your call quality drops (since London traffic would be routed through Boston), or you have to buy another video server for London. Ouch. With the right cloud solution, you can meet with anyone – regardless of their location – since connectivity is handled on a local basis.

Here are 6 reasons to consider replacing your on-premises infrastructure with a cloud-based video service:

  • Flexibility - Since today’s workforce is no longer tied to the office, employees need to stay connected when they work from home or travel. A cloud-based service lets them talk to anyone, on any device, from any location – whether using a video system in the conference room, or joining via phone in the car.

  • Security - By registering your video systems to a cloud subscription service, you can keep meetings secure behind your corporate firewall with encryption. You can also access other security features like PIN codes, locking meeting rooms, and one-time-use rooms. Read more about security for video conferencing here.

  • Scalability - As your company grows, a cloud-based video solution can grow with you. There’s no need to purchase additional hardware or ports; simply add a new user license to your existing subscription.

  • Interoperability - We all have our favorite technologies. Some of us are Skype for Business users, while others just prefer the phone. At a company level, organizations also have their favorites. Cloud video conferencing opens up communications to everyone, so there’s no need to worry about systems working together. You can use your hardware to talk to someone on another video endpoint, Skype for Business, Google Hangouts Meet, WebEx, Zoom, Videxio, or any calling service quickly and easily.

  • Same great quality - One of the biggest reasons to invest in hardware is the quality, but did you know you can keep the same high-quality experience using the cloud? With the right provider, you don’t have to worry about dropped calls, choppy audio, or frozen faces. Look for a provider that has a dedicated global network just for video, so your calls do not compete with other media traffic.

  • More user-friendly - Unlike the days of complicated AV installations, you can register an endpoint to the cloud in seconds and get users up-and-running quickly.

When’s the best time to make a decision? Now.

If your infrastructure faces end-of-life, you need to plan your migration strategy now to avoid pitfalls down the road.

Also consider the seasonality of your business and the best time to migrate. An accounting firm should not plan any migrations leading up to tax day, for instance, and an online retailer should avoid the holiday season. For reference, on-prem solutions typically require up to six months to procure. While cloud solutions can be implemented in less than a week, you’ll want to plan enough time to set up trials and evaluate each service before making your decision.

How should I evaluate a cloud service provider

With so many cloud video conferencing services that all promise similar features and functionality, how can you choose what’s best for your organization? Look under the covers and ask the right questions about technical specs, customer support, and customer service. It won’t take long to find out who can provide the highest-quality, most reliable calls for the best price (while making your job easier along the way!).

Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Redundancy - What happens if a server goes down? Will traffic automatically reroute to the next-closest server? Will there be any impact on the user experience?

  • Availability - Ask what the provider’s network architecture looks like on the back end. How does this provide reassurances of high availability? What’s their SLA? How many 9s of uptime can they guarantee (because we all know that 99.9% is different than 99.999%)?

  • Failover - Are there mechanisms in place to allow services to continue in the face of catastrophic failure? How will this impact business continuity?

  • Quality of Service - How strong is the MPLS network? Is there global coverage? How many points of presence are there?

  • Security - Is traffic encrypted? What kind of encryption? Is any data stored on the service? If so, how is it protected – in rest and in transit? Is the service compliant with regulations like SOC2, SSAE16, and ISO 27001? Are there secondary security mechanism in places like PIN codes, dynamic conference IDs, and locking VMRs

  • Access to ports - How easy is it to access ports and resources?

  • Workflows - How will your existing workflows change? Can you preserve any? Which new capabilities and features will you get that you didn’t have before? (i.e. interoperability)

  • Usage - What kind of usage statistics do you have access to so you can monitor the health of the service?

  • Endpoint Support - Which products and model numbers does the service support? Some older models are not supported by any cloud service provider, so make sure you are covered.

  • Customer Support - What does the support program look like? Is it available 24/7 Are representatives easy to contact? How quickly do they respond?

  • Customer Success - Is there a dedicated customer success team? How will they help you roll out the new service? Will they provide training sessions for business groups? Are there resources available online to answer users’ questions?

How to ensure a smooth migration

Cloud solutions are easy to deploy and can be up-and-running in less than a week. Once you’ve chosen your provider, just review firewall rules together and make any necessary adjustments, then register your endpoints to the cloud. This provisioning process takes anywhere from 30 seconds to ten minutes, depending on the cloud provider and the toolset they’ve built to facilitate the process.

Lastly, check out these tips to ensure a smooth migration:

  • Update to the latest firmware - Once you lose support, you’ll no longer be able to access software updates, so install all updates before making any changes.

  • Configure your network to give preferential treatment to video and voice traffic - This will ensure higher-quality meetings and calls.

  • Implement a firewall vendor with flexible firewall rules - The firewall vendor device should have a flexible configuration UX which allows the user to configure via a number of methods: domain whitelisting, IP address space whitelisting, service-specific “awareness”, and others. Some firewall vendor makes are more limited in terms of how rules are defined, making them harder to set up to handle various cloud services.

  • Make sure local offices use local bandwidth - Rather than sending all media traffic through one location – which could be an ocean away – route all traffic locally to reduce last-mile connectivity issues.

On-premise video infrastructure is no longer required to give employees high-quality, secure meetings. If you purchased infrastructure that now faces end-of-life, you can replace that infrastructure with a cloud video service that will provide even more flexibility for a fraction of the cost. Give your employees a seamless, intuitive experience that lets them work from anywhere, and prepare your organization for the future of collaboration.

Article By: Videxio - Access the Guide Here



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