Working Outside the Box
Rob Hamlin, Director Solutions Engineering, VOSS
We regularly hear concerns from enterprise organizations that their UC management tools do not deliver the exact functionality they would like "out of the box". When building a management solution, it is difficult to create a "one size fits all" approach when it comes to UC. Increasingly, we are being asked by customers to help their administrators to work out of that box to make their UC tools match their specific business processes.
Our VOSS technology has been architected so that it can deliver a standard set of features, but also support the ability to evolve these standard features or even add new features quickly and effectively using our Adaptation framework. The UC operations management technology we have supplied to Cisco via Cisco HCS partners for many years contains the standardized set of features of our solution. These standard CUCDM features augmented with the Adaptation framework and the Adaptations created to date are available to HCS partners under a Cisco sanctioned H.O.M.E. program whereby partners can move from CUCDM onto VOSS-4-UC.
One of the biggest advantages of moving to VOSS-4-UC and working directly with VOSS is the ability to work with our engineers to adapt your UC management platform to suit your very specific business needs. The turnaround time to make these fundamental changes to your UC environment are often times below a week.
Recently, I had the opportunity to work with a US-based UC carrier. They have been long-time users of CUCDM but experienced certain limitations in functionality and there was a perceived lack of flexibility in the architecture. The carrier decided to follow the VOSS H.O.M.E program to migrate from CUCDM to VOSS-4-UC. I worked with the carrier to quickly adapt VOSS-4-UC into the provisioning solution that aligned fully with their business processes. Here is a small glimpse into that process.
The first adaptation the carrier wanted to address was their dislike for an "out of the box" dial plan. They had run into the problem that their in-house developed dial plan would not work within the standard dial plan schema that is shipped with HCS. In an HCS style dial plan most of the heavy-lifting is done with translation patterns so there is the ability to create those patterns in several ways. For this carrier though, their dial plan utilized route patterns to do most of the work. This different approach could not be accommodated with the standard shipped capabilities so they could move their own in-house dial plan into schemas. To solve this problem, I introduced a new set of tools into their VOSS-4-UC platform that allowed management of dial plan elements in a new and much more flexible way.
The new dial plan tools provide the carrier's administrators with new ways to push dial plan into CallManagers, and a way to store those dial plans locally to VOSS-4-UC and expands the scope of dial plan elements available to be modeled. From SIP trunks and route groups, media resources and all the way down to site level CSS, the new dial plan models can push virtually all elements in between. Those dial plan elements are all configured in separate data models inside VOSS-4-UC for easier management of the configuration within the models. This is also a departure from the schema model where administrators often find the data hard to edit.
The second dial plan adaptation the carrier wanted to address was to set specific fields in a CallManager phone line. The call manager feature is the +E164 Alternative Number and it can be used in place of translation patterns that are purposefully built for call routing. The solution we introduced into VOSS-4-UC was to utilize some new tooling that enables VOSS-4-UC to trigger new workflows from existing ones, like Quick Add Subscriber, to enable the addition of the data required. We built a custom workflow that would initiate just after Quick Add Subscriber, to look up the selected directory number of the configured subscriber and look up against the +E164 association table to gather the assigned +E164 number. We then took that +E164 number and the partition configured for E164 lookups and updated the lines of the configured phones. The lines configured exactly as required.
The third adaptation for the carrier went hand in hand with the second. For reasons of contact center, the carrier needed the alternate extension of each end user in Unity Connection to have the same +E164 identifier assigned. We quickly built another workflow to set this specific value and triggered that workflow just after the +E164 line update.
The final adaptation for the carrier was to set the primary extension on every configured end user that was on-boarded to CallManager. This was for a backend billing requirement, and since most companies like to get paid, one could argue, a crucial requirement! After assessing the situation with their business practice, we were able to introduce a very simple change in the form of a new set of macros in an existing configuration template. The carrier has a business rule where the first line of a configured phone is always that identified primary line. This made the creation of the macros quite simple and straightforward. Again, we aligned VOSS-4-UC with the carrier’s process using quite a simple change.
There were other minor adaptations that we introduced, and this process is a good example of a VOSS customer who transitioned to VOSS-4-UC via the H.O.M.E program, working through their unique set of issues in order to adapt the system into one that works for their business process. These changes were all carried out in just one week's time.
It is rewarding to see administrators and users of VOSS products evolve from people who resist the use of VOSS-4-UC to champions within their community, when it functions outside the box and meet their needs.
For more information about the H.O.M.E program an about VOSS Adaptations, please contact us.