How many people does it take to manage the service infrastructure supporting over 150,000 hardware phones, 50,000 soft phones, and 10,000 room and desktop video devices. That’s the size of our UC infrastructure at Cisco, and today we manage all our voice, voicemail, and video services with an integrated voice and video Tier 3 operations team of 25 people, and another 5 people supporting contact center applications and services. We do this by continually finding new efficiencies – learning new ways to support existing services so we can spend more time learning how to support the new technologies.
Cisco IT has deployed voice infrastructure around the world in order to handle our 1+ million voice calls per day with high levels of quality and reliability. We used to manage this infrastructure with four separate regional teams: one managing the Western part of North America, another managing Eastern North America and Latin America, the third Europe/Middle East/Africa, and the fourth Asia/Pacific. But we found that this regional organization led to inconsistent operations because the regional teams had different ideas on how things should be done and they applied our corporate standards in different ways.
Our early lack of global consistency led to inefficiency in our support operations. We would have people from different time zones trying to help troubleshoot problems and be unable to support an unfamiliar configuration. And this meant that our regional teams had to provide around-the-clock support by themselves – which led to sleepless nights and frayed nerves.
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Just a decade ago, supporting enterprise voice services was simpler, our voice operations support scope was smaller, and one person could be proficient in everything you needed to know for voice operations. But as IP telephony capabilities grew into Unified Communications, the skills our engineers had to be proficient in grew exponentially.
Today, we support UC systems and collaboration platforms, both on traditional hardware and now on virtualized server platforms (Cisco UCS). We still support phones and softphones, but now we also support mobility services, video phones and mobile devices like the Cisco Cius, voice and video conferencing, menus of phone-based services, and ever-more sophisticated customer support tools in our contact centers. There are now so many things within the scope of the UC systems that we manage that it would be extremely difficult in an enterprise the size of Cisco to be an expert in everything. So, individuals on our voice operations team need to specialize.
Learn the four most common threats that put your IP phone system at risk
There’s a big story about phone hacking that has kept newspapers in the U.K. and U.S. busy over the past month. Some former reporters of a popular tabloid newspaper in the U.K. have claimed that hacking into the phones of celebrities and members of the Royal Family was rife at the paper. The publication of conversations and messages between celebrities may be fun to read, but the unauthorized interception of communications inside businesses is no laughing matter.
The security of your small business phone system is just as important as the security of your network. Consider if someone hacked into your phone system and compromised your company voicemail. What could they learn? You need to be as diligent about voice security as you are with data security, particularly if you use IP telephony.