by Alan D. Percy, Senior Director of Marketing, AudioCodes

Back in the days of PBXs, deploying phones was a pretty straight forward process – when a new employee joined the company (Betty in our example), the PBX administrator assigned a port on the PBX to the office/cubicle assigned to Betty and had a technician install a phone in her office.  A move-add-change configuration on the PBX assigned her a phone number and you were done (at least until Betty moved to a new office).

Now the time has come to move to a new Unified Communications system, retiring your old and expensive PBX, and replacing Betty’s desktop legacy phone with a new IP Phone.  It’s not just Betty, but everyone in the business gets a new phone.   Deploying those new IP Phones is entirely different from the process used years ago with your legacy PBX. Any phone can be plugged into the LAN anywhere.  If the IT staff has any hope of keeping track of who has which IP Phone (and where it’s located), there is some serious record keeping that needs to occur.   Without tracking the MAC address, serial number or other identifying details, the devices vanish into the organization, with little management. Not a wise way to manage a fairly expensive fleet of IT assets.

All the major manufacturers of UC systems recognized the challenge with provisioning IP Phones and  offer some form of automatic provisioning system, detecting new devices, loading the correct firmware and configuration data into each device. “Self-provisioning”, where Betty and her co-workers are handed a device and asked to do the physical installation and some minimal activation procedure - a great way to reduce the labor involved with large deployments.

The challenge starts after the installation is complete - monitoring the operational status of all the devices in an organization.  Are all the devices operating correctly and providing good voice quality?  Do all the devices have the correct version of firmware and configuration?  How does Betty configure her new IP Phone and add speed-dial buttons and labeling?

“Plug and Play” is the goal, but often chaos is the result.

The value of ongoing management of an organization’s fleet of IP Phones, headsets and other IT assets is only now coming to light, causing the emergence of a new class of IP phone and associated management system.  The “Managed IP Phone”, a bundle of the IP Phone devices, embedded monitoring capabilities and a management system that allows the IT staff to know the operational status of every device in the organization, detecting voice quality issues, inadvertent disconnects and remotely manage the device personalization.

With Managed IP Phones, Betty doesn’t need to know how to configure her phone; instead the IT staff can quickly access the device remotely, adding new speed dial buttons.  When the Ethernet cable is inadvertently pulled from the phone in the conference room, IT knows about it before anyone else and can correct issue.

When planning your migration to UC, give some consideration to whether your IT organization is planning to manage the fleet of IP Phones or preparing for chaos?

AudioCodes offers 400HD-series IP Phones and One Voice Operations Center, enabling a fully-managed solution for Microsoft Skype for Business and Lync. From more information, visit: http://www.audiocodes.com/Microsoft