Calling All Centrex Users: Your Cloud Solution Is Dead! (Part 3)

October 8, 2017



In Parts 1 and 2 of this series entitled “Calling All Centrex Users: Your Cloud Solution Is Dead!”, I covered a synopsis for the original Centrex and what it was known for (more about reliability than features and functions of the premise-based systems of yesteryear). I also covered a discussion with Genband on an upgrade path they offer to their customers (carriers). I also covered basic cost ranges for Centrex and UCaaS, timing associated with a new deployment, and the why for a Centrex replacement plan.

In Part 3 of this series, you will able to follow a Centrex Replacement Plan that will get you to your end game of a fully supported UC solution that is cost-effective for your corporate environment.

The Centrex replacement plan will involve the following key steps necessary for CxO management approval

  1. Identify the Centrex ‘Under The Skin’ (if Available) and Determine your level of risk with the current legacy Centrex – for staying with the Centrex and capacities and possible outages due to lack of spare parts, (lack of) knowledge base, and fewer trained technicians

  2. Baseline and inventory your current enterprise Centrex and data infrastructure - for possible replacement purposes

  3. Review your corporate and IT strategic plans - for possible growth and change and how a replacement to your Centrex could incorporate such updates

  4. Develop and execute a Request for Information (RFI) - for budgetary purposes, as needed, for a replacement UCaaS solution or premise-based solution

  5. Leverage any capital investment or increase in OPEX with cost-saving and cost-avoidance opportunities to manage cost increases

  6. Develop a budget for the project

  7. Document and execute on the Centrex Replacement Plan and overall project plan

Your Centrex Replacement Plan


The details of your Centrex Replacement Plan should include

  • Identify the Centrex ‘Under The Skin’ (if Available) and Determine your level of risk for staying with the Centrex

    • Identify whether Genband’s UCaaS solution is ‘under the skin’ and has been upgraded, or if there are short term plans by the carrier to do so. If the Centrex is still legacy then there is risk.

    • If Lucent Technologies, NEC, or Ericson, identify whether or not there is an upgrade path or again if legacy and if risk

    • Identify capacities, and possible outages due to end-of-support (we have 2 such clients)

    • Identify changes in your own enterprise's business needs

    • Ask KEY questions:

      • Does the Centrex offered meet or exceed your UC plans for features and functionality

      • What is the cost compared with a new replacement UCaaS solution or premise-based solution

  • Baseline and inventory your current enterprise Centrex and data infrastructure - for possible replacement purposes

    • Inventory your current Centrex equipment and data infrastructure, all touchpoints, end points, interfaces, integration with 3rd party system (for example paging), cabling, etc.

    • Document your WAN infrastructure for converged a fully IP QoS-based network

    • Identify other areas of risk: capacities, end-of-support, parts availability, technician knowledge, and risk of a possible multi-day outage

    • Determine the "business cost" to your organization's bottom line in the event of any extended outage beyond 2-4 hours

    • Assess all local closets for QoS-readiness - HVAC, cabling/patch panels, PoE switches, and routers

    • Diagram all sites and network components

  • Review your corporate and IT plans - for possible growth and change and how a replacement to your Centrex could be managed - include

    • Mergers and acquisitions, sale of any business units, growth at company sites, and expansion or reduction of the number of locations

    • UC enhancements, including SIP trunking, a full UC suite deployment (presence, IM/chat, audio/videoconferencing, collaboration softphones, mobility)

    • Contact Center CX enhancements (include multi-channel, improved SLAs IVR, CTI, WFM, preview and predictive dialing, speech recognition, virtual hold/callback, score cards, speech and text analytics, more)

    • Integration of CRM and other APIs and SDKs into your UC environment

    • Migration to a new cloud or hybrid cloud solution (or manufacturer’s offer to upgrade within their environment)

    • Newer technologies integrating with UC, including SD-WAN, IoT, AI, CPaaS, and more

  • Execute a Request for Information (RFI) - for budgetary purposes, as needed

    • To help facilitate budgeting for a new solution (cloud or premise). The RFI should comprise all possible replacement components, including the full UC system and Contact Center, UPSs, PoE switches, cabling, and other key trends

    • The RFI should contain a high-level specification, general incentives and offerings that some competitive vendors could leverage for legacy Centrex users, including upgrades / replacements to a new UCaaS solution

    • Consider proposals from other private cloud providers (or public cloud provider if SMB) for possible fast ramp-up if needed

    • Determine timing requirements for deployment based on number of sites – think project deployment in terms of a single weekend, a series of weekends, several months, or 24-36 month period based on your enterprise needs

  • Leverage any capital investment with cost-saving and cost-avoidance opportunities to manage costs

    • Look to manage capital through cost-savings and cost-avoidance measures, thus creating a strong ROI and the case to move forward with a UC and contact center investment

    • We had one customer who moved from a legacy premise-based environment to a UCaaS environment. The UCaaS environment was more costly than a premise-based solution, however, we were able to manage a $2M annual spend with $3+M annual savings, thus creating a hard ROI for the project in year one and on.

  • Develop a budget for the project, using a balance of CAPEX, OPEX costs and savings from the ROI analysis, telecom audit and network optimization

  • Document and execute on the Centrex Replacement Plan and overall project plan

    • Include an analysis of costs, benefits, and risks

    • Migrating to new platform via a request for proposal (RFP) and migration to a new system, whether cloud or premise. A detailed RFP with vendor SLAs and creative options can help achieve the project goals you may be seeking

    • Look to develop an overall project schedule for full system replacement.



Today’s new ‘cloud’ solutions, or UCaaS, are a bit more robust than the legacy Centrex. As my colleague and No Jitter Editor Eric Krapf recently posted, “we have come full circle and it is Déjà Vu all over again” with cloud replacing legacy systems, in this case the original Cloud, Centrex.

The new ‘cloud’ is here in its new form as UCaaS and CaaS, and it is time to take a look at a Centrex and ACD replacement with a similar but more robust cloud solution. A premise solution is, of course, another option, but today’s buzz word is ‘cloud’. If your organization is already on a Centrex and OPEX model, then the migration to a new OPEX model is not as painful as one would think.

If you are at risk, then it’s time to replace your Centrex (or upgrade it) – you and your organization have too much at stake!


This article was originally published on BCStrategies.

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