The past two months have been a chaotic and exciting time to be a Lifesize Gold partner and a member of their channel.
As we watch the industry innovate or implode, we are witnessing an exciting time for Lifesize as they make some needed and necessary changes. Unfortunately, some of these changes have been painful to our customers and their internal user base, so wanted to comment on this to share perspective. Technology can be a pill, but we pride ourselves in finding the lemons and making lemonade.
Finding lemons? Yes! We like finding the bugs or learning about the challenges technologies we sell can surface. Listening to our clients helps us react to their real-world scenarios. In this particular case, however, we are also handed some lemons.
Lifesize has announced a massive upgrade to their bridge. The great news there is that more features and integration to 4k equipment will accelerate feature release, provide scale and stability while also integrating the new video systems. The bad news is that some of our customers (and many of Lifesize’s customer base) will lose some great integrated features. Those are the lemons. Cloud-connected Lifesize gear does some amazing bridge call merging, auto escalating and calls can be transferred from a user and their paired device. Trying doing that with any number of the freemium solutions in market! Also, 220s are old and this old gear (that should be replaced) are now being forced off the bridge outside of a normal budgeting cycle, without a lot of advanced planning. Sounds dramatic, right?
Really, it wasn’t. Why? The 220 systems still work. They still make H323 calls, SIP calls and support some of the best audio, echo cancelling and resolutions. The unforced error was timing, so some of our customers (and you maybe) have been rightfully miffed. Our lemonade experience here, however, is that we got ahead of this, planned and communicated options to our customers. If you didn’t get an experience like this from your Lifesize reseller, perhaps you need a Lifesize reseller PARTNER like us.
Put simply, we helped our customers see three options.
Do nothing. The systems would eventually disconnect from cloud and the users would let you know. Once they do, a simple call from the system to the bridge auto attendant (dial lifesizecloud.com or an IP address)- and then get connected.
Disconnect or reset, then set H323 calls and SIP calls to point to the bridge (lifesizecloud.com). Once at an auto attendant, the users just need a meeting ID. This function is just like 99% of the audio bridges out in the market. There are a number of other proactive steps that can be taken here and those are outlined below. If you are reading this because your 220s are causing you a headache, you should probably call us.
Upgrade or replace- We had some customers migrate to all new Lifesize gear or spin out to another platform, with or without PVC.
Here is a recording that reviewed the implications of the cloud-220 change that was easier for our customers to follow. We didn’t want to oversimplify this all, but really once the cloud bridge change happened, there were quick actions that could be taken to help the users continue a great video conferencing experience.
How to manage your Lifesize 220s in the coming days:
- You can do nothing, for now. Your user will need to dial by SIP or IP, but the systems will work.- and then enter the meeting ID.
- You have not chosen to upgrade, so there will be user impact on how they call in the coming days.
Once the Lifesize Cloud upgrade happens this month, the 220s will no longer automatically get upgrades nor will they get a directory entry from Cloud pairing. Very soon (but not in time for this upgrade) Lifesize will be sending over instructions on how to connect to the bridge for directory services from your Lifesize Cloud bridge. We don’t have those instructions, so I wanted to make sure you know the options.
Below are two messages- one an excerpt from the communications we had with our customer base. If your partner is not communicating like this and proactively, try us for a better (perfect) experience.
Excerpt 1- PVC to PVC customers
We recommend that you disconnect the systems from LIfesize cloud now or factory reset to reduce confusion. Once they reboot you can put them back on the IP address you assigned or leave them on DHCP. They will work as old-school "stand-alone" video systems like all video systems have been doing for 30+ years.
Come Monday, we are expecting some of your users to be confused. We would strongly recommend you dial into the Lifesize Cloud Bridge via IP and just get the auto attendant. Once you do that, hang up. Then your team can save the entry in the directory on the home screen and in presets.
- Your users will only need to dial into the IP address, or lifesizecloud.com (I do both in the demo) - and enter a virtual meeting ID extension.
- You can upload a CSV file that has the Lifesize Cloud directory entries in there, if you want to provide your users with a full directory.
- You do NOT need to break the SIP connection to your PBX.
- You should not need to change firewall settings, but you might depending on how content sharing is experienced.
Excerpt 2 - Lifesize and PVC to Customers
On Wednesday, May 15th we will upgrade your Lifesize service from our existing cloud environment to our new cloud platform. We understand that you received our offer to trade in your 220 systems and have opted not to upgrade. If you chose not to upgrade because you no longer have, or are no longer using, the 220’s than there is nothing for you to do. Consider this a courtesy notification of your upcoming upgrade date.
If you would like to continue using your 220 system after the upgrade, please use the following instructions for continued use.
- 220 systems that are paired to the Lifesize service should be automatically updated before the upgrade.
- On Thursday, May 16th, or as soon as you need to use the 220 devices, you will need to register the unit to the Lifesize cloud service. Instructions are provided in this online guide.
- Credentials for your systems will be available for download in your Admin Console under Account Settings > Downloads no later than Sunday May 12th.
- Please ensure you have completed the necessary firewall and DNS changes before that date.
This latter part was actually one of the better tasting glasses of this lemonade. In some occasions, we had lost meaningful engagement with a PVC-Lifesize customer. This event helped us garner knowledge about their intentions and directions so we could either service them better, or stay away so someone else could.