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Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise Platform Deployment

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This chapter covers the steps needed for planning a Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise (UCCE) deployment, installing UCCE software, and testing the deployment.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter covers the following subjects:

  • Planning for a UCCE deployment
  • UCCE software installation
  • Deployment testing

The initial deployment and installation of a Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise (UCCE) platform is only a small part of the total ownership and administration required to maintain the solution. However, getting the installation correct is an important step to ensuring that the solution remains supportable and problem-free.

As you discover in this chapter, the deployment of an advanced solution such as UCCE can be a long process requiring a dedicated project team with experienced technical specialists.

This chapter briefly introduces the Cisco Lifecycle Service methodology used by Cisco and its partners to deploy advanced unified communications solutions. Although the lifecycle covers the entire deployment process from the initial business ideas through to the solutions optimization, this chapter focuses on the design and implementation of the core UCCE software components that need to be in place before the application-level business requirements can be implemented. Chapter 7, "UCCE Application Configuration," details the aspects of application-level configuration.

It is common practice to split larger UCCE installations among various deployment engineers or several small teams of engineers. This is done because a complete UCCE deployment encompasses several different products or platforms that require specialist skills. The different technical skill sets required for a UCCE deployment include the following:

  • Business analyst: The business analyst is responsible for converting the business requirements into detailed technical requirements. The business analyst might also be required to collect the end-user data. This includes details such as the agent names, IDs, skill groups, teams, extension numbers, and locations. Solutions architect: Having the responsibility for the overall solution, the solutions architect is aware of the "bigger picture" of the technical aspects and understands all the integration interfaces of how the different components interact.
  • Microsoft Windows specialist: Many organizations prefer to deploy their own MS Windows architecture for UCCE because of its integration with Windows Active Directory. If the customer prefers that the Cisco partner perform the Windows and SQL Server installations, a specialist is then required with these skills.
  • Unified CM engineer: Responsible for the installation and configuration of the Unified CM cluster, including voice gateways and interfaces to the PSTN or any legacy time-division multiplexing (TDM) technologies.
  • Unified IVR/CVP engineer: The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) engineer is responsible for the installation and configuration of the chosen IVR platform and then the subsequent integration of the IVR into UCCE.
  • UCCE installation engineer and application engineer: Both of these roles can be performed by the same engineer. This is especially true for smaller deployments. For large installations that have hundreds of complex routing scripts, skill groups, and thousands of agents, these roles are usually split to ensure that the project is delivered on time. In practice, the UCCE installation engineer is also often skilled at IVR installations, so he can perform the initial installation of the core UCCE components and then hand over the application configuration to another engineer while continuing with the IVR work in parallel.
  • Third-party specialist: Several products exist outside of the core components that integrate into UCCE including voice recording, workforce management, speech recognition, and email/web collaboration. These products often require specialist installations by skilled engineers or the product vendors.

Lifecycle Services Approach

To instigate a consistent approach to network implementations, Cisco created a network lifecycle methodology that partners and end customers could use throughout to achieve their network-related business goals. As organizations began to deploy unified communications technologies, many people experienced challenges with implementing UC technology on their existing network infrastructure. Many of these challenges were because of a lack of a structured approach.

Cisco recommends that a proven lifecycle approach is followed when deploying complex solutions. When an organization engages with Cisco and a Cisco partner for the deployment of a UCCE solution, the Cisco consulting engineers use the Cisco Lifecycle Services approach to ensure smooth project delivery.

The Cisco Lifecycle approach is built to the standard of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and other standards-based frameworks. The approach, shown in Figure 6-1, comprises six distinct phases, collectively known as the Cisco PPDIOO Lifecycle Methodology.

Figure 6-1

Figure 6-1 Cisco PPDIOO Lifecycle Methodology

The aim of the lifecycle is to align the business and technical requirements at each phase:

  • Prepare: In the prepare phase of the lifecycle, an organization determines a business case and financial rationale to support the adoption, enhancement, or migration to the new technology. The organization is required to develop a technology strategy and identify a technology and a high-level architecture to meet those requirements. After the financial and business value of the chosen technology has been assessed, the company can validate the technology's features and functionality through proof-of-concept testing.
  • Plan: Successful deployment depends on an accurate assessment of an organization's current network and overall readiness to support the proposed technology. In the plan phase, a company determines whether it has adequate resources to manage a technology deployment project to completion. Certainly for UCCE deployments, a Cisco Authorized Technology Provider (ATP) partner is required for deployment, so this planning phase would almost certainly be a joint task between the organization and the partner. A detailed project plan is created to identify resources, potential difficulties, individual responsibilities, and critical tasks necessary to deliver the final project on time and on budget.
  • Design: During the design phase, a comprehensive and detailed design is created to meet the business and technical requirements. A design aligned with business goals and technical requirements can improve network and platform performance while supporting high availability, reliability, security, and scalability. Many of the features deployed for a UCCE solution are out-of-the-box components that require configuring to suit the organization, but UCCE also has several programming interfaces that can be developed against to provide the organization with enhanced, custom features. These should also be documented during the design phase. The design phase can also guide and accelerate successful implementation with a plan to stage, configure, test, and validate network operations.
  • Implement: In the implementation phase, an organization works to integrate the UCCE solution in accordance with the design—without compromising network availability or performance or impacting the current operation of any existing voice or contact center solutions. The implementation phase is probably the most visible phase to the organization as the project work takes progress. For a solution as large as UCCE that encompasses contact center, telephony, and networking components, the installation, configuring, integrating, testing, and commissioning of the systems usually requires a large team of engineers with a wide range of skill sets. After the solutions operation is validated, an organization can begin expanding and improving IT staff skills through professionally delivered training courses and on-the-job ad hoc training from the Cisco partner.
  • Operate: Day-to-day platform operations represent a significant portion of an IT budget. A key business driver is to reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a solution's running costs while continually maintaining, and potentially enhancing, performance. Throughout the operate phase, an organization proactively monitors the health and performance of a solution to improve service quality, reduce disruptions, and maintain high availability and reliability. Contact centers typically have a higher staff turnover rate than regular office-based roles. This has the impact that a large portion of work will be performing adds, moves, and changes.
  • Optimize: Contact centers are generally the first, and sometimes only, point of contact into the enterprise for an individual customer. Contact centers strive to be the best and to provide a high standard of customer service to their callers. Business best practices and contact center technology are constantly evolving to ensure that the caller is given a good experience. In the optimize phase, an organization is continually looking for ways to achieve operational excellence through improved performance and expanded services. This results in the changes to business requirements and the potential to implement new technology. In recent years, contact center technology has advanced so rapidly that occasionally technology drives through business change. Many new features available in recent versions of UCCE have resulted in organizations wanting to upgrade as they can see a direct competitive advantage for implementing the new solutions.
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