Unified Communications - What is the true cost of deployment and support?


We have all had these types of conversations in the past:
“Why can’t I get this music onto my iPod”

“Where is my copy of Guitar Hero”
“Sorry I leant it to my mate but I don’t know which one, it could be Roo or maybe Matt?”

“Dad, can you top-up my phone with credit and add a months data pack”
“Look son I showed you how to do it last month and the month before”
“But I can’t remember”

The same types of conversation happen in business however they are typically related to assets (servers, switches, routers), device builds (chassis, cards, processors, software) or configuration/support (IP addressing, features and parameters).

The ITIL methodology is a solid and proved way of understanding what you have, where it is, how it works and how to manage change. This is not just a benefit when maintaining the current network but also when new services are required.

One of the key elements for the design process of any upgrade is the Configuration Management DataBase (CMDB). The CMDB is where an organizations asset inventory is stored. The accuracy of the CMBD becomes imperative if there is an identified fault with specific type of hardware or software, or if an organization is going through change. These changes could include new services being deployed on an existing infrastructure (IPT, UC, WiFi, VC, etc), mergers/acquisitions or diversification.

Within ITIL there is also a Known Error DataBase (KEDB) which is an ever evolving support process. This is used to quickly identify issues seen before and the processes to resolve them. If an issue is seen on an ongoing basis then proactive maintenance should be implemented such as configuration changes, software upgrades or hardware replacement.

Management of services is also high on the list of requirements when deploying a new service, you know what they say "if you can’t monitor it you can’t manage it". As part of the design stage the management requirements need to be defined along with the service reporting, frequency and management vectors.

The biggest element of risk is Service Transition. This includes the undefined cost around remediation inc. hardware/software upgrades or provision.  A consulting approach is the best way to ensure that all costs are understood and deliverables agreed prior to project sign-off.  Once the functional specification is defined in conjunction with features and functionality then the hardware and software requirements can be established.  The consulting engagement will also encapsulate life-cycle services such as help-desk, management tools, support processes and performance/capacity management to meet the business's SLAs and ensure a positive user experience.  Combined with the an accurate CMDB the consulting engagement will allow a gap analysis to be created defining the full costs associated with the new service or upgrade.

“Your iPod is only 8Gb so remove some of your videos and games if you want to put on more music” – asset specification, capacity management and user support/processes.
“You leant it to Roo on the 8th May as I wrote it down” – asset inventory records.
“The link to the page where you apply a top-up and add a data pack is in your web favorites” process and support.

So what is your approach to infrastructure management and service transformation?

Andy Shuttlewood,

Photo: Courtesy of TANDBERG Corporation

Nicolas Jacquey
Andy Shuttlewood

I'm a highly respected telecoms professional with 23 years' experience and I currently manage the UK Consulting team within Orange Business.