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What role do legacy UC devices play in a cloud migration?

Migrating to UCaaS doesn't mean organizations need to leave legacy hardware behind. But organizations must ensure UC devices are compatible with cloud provider platforms.

When migrating from an on-premises unified communication (UC) platform to a SaaS-based architecture, the reuse of legacy voice and video equipment is often desired. After all, enterprise-grade UC devices can be quite costly to replace. That said, determining whether legacy UC endpoint hardware is compatible with a UC-as-a-service platform is often easier said than done.

I've witnessed UCaaS migrations grind to a halt because the proper due diligence was not put into verifying that legacy UC hardware will operate on a cloud-based platform. By the time the incompatibility is discovered, it's too late to turn back, resulting in an unexpected Capex hardware cost to replace UC devices.

In order to avoid this problem, organizations must work with their UCaaS provider to ensure the UC endpoint hardware and firmware are going to be compatible with the new system. This process often requires more due diligence than simply looking at model numbers and comparing them to the UCaaS provider's hardware compatibility list.

For example, let's say a company using an on-premises UC platform with Cisco 8861 IP phones -- a common desk phone model -- is planning a migration to UCaaS provider RingCentral. While the Cisco 8861 IP phones are on RingCentral's list of supported phone models, not all 8861 IP phones are the same.

In fact, there are two different types. One Cisco 8861 IP phone is an enterprise version while another is called a multi-platform phone (MPP) model. The enterprise model is not compatible with RingCentral's offering while the MPP model is. While Cisco provides steps to migrate the enterprise phone firmware to MPP, it often requires purchasing an upgraded license.

It's also important to note that legacy phones may not look and operate the same once moved to a UCaaS platform. Some of the devices' features and functionality used in an on-premises deployment may not be available on the new platform. Thus, keep in mind that end-user training and documentation may have to be updated to reflect those changes.

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