Figure 36 Traditional Flash Cut from Old PBX to a New PBX

In this example, training for new users begins when they get their new phone. The problem is that when they get their new phone, the new system is already live and in production. This allows for only a short span of time where the telecom organization can focus on training users before they have to move on to the task of maintaining and managing the system, i.e., keeping it up and running, changing user configurations, handling employee moves, adds and changes, etc.

An easier approach to training would be possible if the company could somehow bring the new technology in-house while the existing technology was still in place. Furthermore, it would be helpful to extend the training timeline to allow months to train employees instead of days. IP telephony, through what is referred to as an incremental deployment, enables this transitory period.

In Figure 3-7, which depicts an IP telephony incremental deployment, there is an interim step during the deployment process. This is referred to as an incremental deployment because the employees of the organization are incrementally migrated (or deployed) from the traditional PBX to the new IPT solution.

Figure 3-7. Incremental Deployment of IP Telephony

Figure 3-7. Incremental Deployment of IP Telephony

Notice that an incremental deployment is a three-phase approach. Phase 1 shows the traditional PBX environment that is being replaced. In Phase 2, an IP telephony call server is added to the network, along with a gateway. The call server handles the traditional PBX functions for an IPT environment.

In Phase 2, new IP phones become part of the network. These represent a limited number of employees who have been selected to initially migrate to the IP network. Notice how there are now users connected to the PBX, and users connected to the network-based call server.

The gateway shown provides the connection back to the PBX, which allows employees connected to the PBX and employees connected to the network to continue to call each other. Furthermore, they continue to use three-, four-, or five-digit dialing, whichever was used with the PBX system. In this way, only the new users who have a new phone have encountered any change. Otherwise, everyone else continues to communicate with one another as they did previously. Users of the IPT solution on the network use the trunks from the PBX to make and receive external calls. The gateway provides the connection back to the PBX trunk facilities.

The benefit of this incremental approach is that the organization deploying the new telephony technology can decide how many users should migrate to the new environment, and how quickly this migration should occur. For example, Company A might have 500 employees on its PBX in Houston, Texas. It makes the decision to migrate to an IP telephony solution, and identify the first 50 employees who will move from the corporate PBX. The company deploys a relatively inexpensive call server, installs a gateway between the PBX and the call server on the network, and gives these 50 users new phones connected to network switches.

Now these 50 users each have a new phone, and it looks like the training nightmare is ready to begin. The difference is that right now, only 50 users need to be trained, not the entire 500! This is the benefit of an incremental deployment: a few weeks to train these 50 users on the new feature set and the new applications (and identify new applications based on the users' requirements). After a few weeks, the company identifies the next 50 or so employees, perhaps migrating users in a department-by-department approach. These employees receive new phones and training next. A month later, another 50 or so employees migrate, and so on, until all 500 employees have new phones, and at that time, the old PBX is removed from service.

How quickly (or slowly) the company decides to migrate users, and how many are migrated at one time is entirely the company's choice. The technology enables this because it does not require an entire new PBX that supports 500 users immediately. Instead, a server that supports 50 users can be brought in. With IP telephony, the company can continue adding to this solution (without changing out servers) and grow the environment at its own pace.

At the end of the day, most companies deploying IP telephony indicate that their users are better trained and ready to take advantage of the new technology. This is not because the technology is easier to use or easier to learn, but because the process by which the new technology is deployed is easier and more cost-effective, and the process for training employees is more flexible and realistic.

So in the end, the question "What about my features?" can actually be better addressed by an IP telephony solution. The IPT solution has proven to produce users who actually know how to transfer, conference, forward, camp on, redial, park, and pick up calls with more confidence and fewer errors than ever before. This, in turn, creates a more productive employee, which is one of the major design goals of an IP telephony solution.

Not only is the IPT technology different from that of a PBX, but how this technology is deployed is different also. Increasingly, IP telephony is looking less like a PBX than originally believed. So, if it is not a PBX, what is it?

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