Unified Communications - Key for Service Providers

by Tabrez Khan    Mar 25, 2009

Being an IT services provider, it was imperative for Solutions Enterprise to be in touch with its customers 24/7. Its legacy communication systems proved inadequate. A new Unified Communications solution, UC500 from Cisco, helped it support business round the clock.

Overview

Solutions Enterprise Pvt. Ltd. partners with SMBs and Corporates in India by providing them with IT services and technology. The company specializes in cost-effective support and infrastructure management solutions that offers a comprehensive range of customised solutions specifically designed to meet the needs of their clients across verticals such as pharmaceutical, automobile, banking & finance, ITeS and travel industry in India, England and USA.

Business / Technical Challenges

In order to manage critical IT infrastructure of their clients it was very important that Solutions Enterprise had reliable and secure communication links between their regional offices and their customer sites. The key requirements from their communication network were Internet connectivity, telecommunication and mobile connectivity.

Initially, Solution Enterprises used SIP based IP phones and Analog phones that were connected using a combination of Cisco ATA / Linksys PAP2 / Vega Analog gateway and soft PBX (Astrix). The offices in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and partner companies in England were connected over Internet/VPN. However, the voice quality between these offices was unsatisfactory, therefore they considered using MPLS (MultiProtocol Label Switching) or International Private Leased Circuit, but the cost of deploying international MPLS circuit was significantly higher.

The other challenges included high cost of system maintenance as the solution required technical resources with good working knowledge of Astrix, voice and Linux. In addition, as their needs for add-on features grew, calls were missed and could not be traced. Another factor was that engineers missed urgent messages because they were on support calls.

At the managerial level, the director also missed calls because he could not always be seated at his desk, using an analog cordless phone did not solve the problem either as both the voice quality and battery life were unsatisfactory.

Integrating the new system with an existing non-Cisco IP enabled PBX system at an associate office was a technical challenge as this required configuring and reassigning extension numbers. Moreover, a control for dialing external numbers had to be implemented.

The main objectives of the project were to provide:
Superior voice quality 
Encryption 
Caller ID 
Voice Mail 
Conference 
Call forwarding / transfer / pickup 
Directory 
Call hunting 
Soft clients

The Solution

The Unified Communications 500 Series supports numerous rich-media client applications that not only improved user productivity but also simplified business processes, according to Solutions Enterprise. In addition Cisco offered a complete solution of network infrastructure, communications devices and software that provided a seamless collaborative workspace experience.

"Unified Communications 500 Series for Small Business as a solution eliminates multiple servers and combines voice, data, voicemail, automated attendant, video, security, and wireless capabilities. It also integrates with existing desktop applications such as calendar, e-mail, and customer relationship management (CRM) programs. It is an easy-to-manage solution that supports up to 50 users in flexible deployment models based on the clients needs," said Pratik Patel, director, Solutions Enterprise Pvt. Ltd.

"We are also utilizing soft clients installed at residences of support engineers, so even on holidays when the office is shut calls are diverted to these soft clients. Thus it enables us to be up and running 24/7."

Network Solution

-  Ahmedabad - India
UC520 48 users with 34 phones (combination of 7911, 7921, 7931, 7941 and 7961 phones)
-  Mumbai - India
UC520 8 users with 4 phones (combination of 7911 and 7941)
-  London - UK
2821CCME/K9 router with 25 users and16 phones (combination of 7941 and 7961 phones)

Benefits

Solutions Enterprise now operates with more flexibility and ease due to efficient pickup and incoming call features. As a corollary clients and co-workers can leave important messages while engineers are on support calls. Conferencing is being used effectively for group discussions / support calls giving users better control over outgoing calls. Overall inter office communications have improved resulting in improved efficiency and productivity.