If you want everything to go off without a hitch, don’t go it alone
Why do people stay on an old UC version even to the point of being unsupported by Cisco? Simply put, there is a lot of risk to an organization when it comes to going through the upgrade. Some of the most business sensitive processes rely on a fully functioning collaboration system and every minute it is down can cost millions of dollars or even worse, lives. After all, dialing 911 (112 in Europe in case you are from Croatia like me) does require a working phone.
Benefits to upgrading
Given all of the risk, there are still a lot of benefits of moving to the latest version. In the last few years, there has been a lot of new productivity features added that are important to the bottom line and to the next generation of employees entering the workforce. One example is Cisco Webex teams and hybrid services enabling new ways of team collaboration for which you need the latest version of UC code running on your on-prem systems.
Inevitably customers decide to proceed with an upgrade on their own and most of the time things do not go well. Results vary, but for the most part they run into longer downtimes than expected, multiple outages during the work days that follow and potential repeats of the scenario again during subsequent attempts. In 15 plus years of working in collab, I’ve seen many of these stories unfold before we got asked to help.
Typical reasons for upgrade failures
What are the typical reasons for failure you might be asking? In most cases everything can be boiled down to lack of adequate planning. This is never intentional and it usually results from not understanding all the complexities and dependencies of the systems. Given the fact that the systems are highly flexible and customizable, each one is slightly different from another which makes it hard to rely on generic documentation OEMs provide. The best way is to run through the test ahead of the upgrade, which in most cases is challenging for organizations due to lack of time and resources.
Don’t go it alone! Rely on partners that can help on all levels starting with great design and all the services that follow. The key is to find a partner that has capabilities and extensive experience doing the complex system upgrades and lab work where they can run through the exact upgrade process prior to doing it on a live production system. Agile lab service is the differentiating factor as it removes a lot of the risk from the equation, but having a comprehensive list of services is definitely a must.