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Cisco Employee
Cisco Employee

I have been planning, designing and deploying the Cisco CUCM Clusters for almost a decade now. The Clusters I deployed varied from Small-Medium-Large. Most of the Enterprises who deployed the clusters few years ago didn’t think about the growth or big picture. I don’t really blame them because technology changes the way we learn. Also there could have been some limitations to deploy single cluster for multiple regions or countries. In the past customer deployed clusters wherever they felt they needed an IP Phone, almost at multiple sites where they had regional offices. During those days the WAN connectivity between the sites was limited and expensive for most part of it.

So here we are, many customers today have multiple clusters deployed at their different locations. Customers have their staff to administer and maintain each cluster. There are various reasons that necessitate Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) cluster consolidation for the Enterprises with multiple CUCM Clusters. Some of the benefits such as less Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), lower operation and maintenance charges, lesser management/administration overheads for the customers. The CUCM Cluster Consolidation can simplify UC Solution Architecture, improve UC Scalability and Consistency. CUCM Cluster Consolidation can also reduce Dial Plan Complexity UC Application Dependency. Reduce Configuration Complexity Eliminates Operational Challenges (Application Software Revision Consistency).

Architecture Validation and Discovery of existing environment would help to plan for Cluster Consolidation. A detailed planning and design process is required for successful CUCM cluster consolidation alongwith careful Capacity Planning. Customers need to keep in mind the important considerations with regards to various UC dependent applications. Some customers may have Clusters with different CUCM versions that they would like to consolidate. In some circumstances consolidation after upgrading the clusters to the same level may seem right. The built in tools like DMA(Data Migration Assistant), BAT(Bulk Administration Tool) etc. along with some of Cisco Advanced Services Tools can come in handy to consolidate the Data of multiple CUCM Clusters. Lab validation of Cluster Consolidation before performing it in the production is another key for success. Performing Cluster Consolidation in the Lab can validate the process and avoid any unforeseen issues. If Cluster Consolidation will be done after upgrade, Administration and End User training is equally important. The customers need to build test plans to perform tests after the Consolidation that can measure the success criteria.

Concisely Cluster Consolidation benefits the Enterprises to reduce TCO, Maintenance Costs and overall it also helps the environment by utilizing less number of servers and power.

Below is summary of High Level Cluster Consolidation Best Practices Tasks,

•         Ongoing End-End Project Management to keep track of Cluster Consolidation Activities and Document Lessons Learned
•         Architecture Validation and discovery of existing UC environment to identify dependant applications
•         Detail Design of Consolidation, Pre-Migration Lab Test, Implementation Plan Development
•         Deployment with Acceptance Test Plan and Knowledge Transfer
•         Post Consolidation Operation/Optimization Tasks

The approach above based on a proven methodology for consolidating Cisco Unified Communications Solutions. However, I would really want to know the challenges you are having out there in the field with UC Consolidation, also are there any specific tasks/areas the Engineers need help with.

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