As Microsoft Lync Celebrates First Anniversary, Telecom Providers Embrace Unified Communications

TossingoutthePBXinfrastructuretosupportdeskphoneswillsaveSprintmorethanUS$44millionperyearinreducedofficespacerental,localcarrierchargesandutilitiescosts,aswellasthecompleteeliminationofPBXmaintenancecosts。

In2006,ifyouhadlookedatournetwork,therewere489PBXsscatteredacrossthecountry,saysJoeHamblin,managerofunifiedcommunicationsforclientservicesatSprint。

WesetoutavisionandsaidwewantedtohaveallofthesePBXsgonefromtheinfrastructureandbeleftwithtwodatacentersandthatiswhatwehavebeenabletoaccomplish。

Afterthecompanydecidedonanetworksolution,SprintdeployedMicrosoftOfficeCommunicationsServer2007R2acrosstheMicrosoftwithSprintGlobalMultiprotocolLabelSwitching(MPLS)networktoprovideenterprisevoice,IM,presenceandconferencing(audio,videoandWeb)capabilities,alongwithintegratedemailandunifiedmessagingcapabilitiesavailablethroughitsMicrosoftExchangeServer2007deployment。

Toprovidethemobilityemployeesdemanded,theITteamwantedacommunicationsolutionbeyondthetraditionalPBXsystemitwasusing,whichwascostlytooperateduetoongoingconnectioncharges,on-sitemaintenancefeesandannualupgrades。

ItdecidedtoreplaceitscostlyPBXsystemsbyusingasoftware-poweredapproachfromMPLSandSIPtrunking。

Thecompanyeliminatedall489PBXsystemsacrossalllocations。

TobettersupportitsMobileWorkforceinitiative,SprintupgradeditscommunicationssolutionwithMicrosoftLyncServer2010forall39,000employees。

Wewantedtouseourtechnologytoallowemployeestoworkvirtuallyanywhere,saysScottWoodrome,strategymanager,EnterpriseRealEstateatSprint。

Inourlargestcampusfacility,wedeployedWi-Fithroughout,ensuredthatwehadopenseating,andimplementedahomepavilionwithmultipleareastosit。

Wealsocreatedcustomer-friendlyareassoemployeescouldbringcustomerstotheoffice。

ThroughtheunifiedLyncclient,employeesnowhaveasingleinterfacewheretheycanviewpresence,sendinstantmessages,placevoicecalls,orsetupadhoccollaborationsessionsandonlinemeetings。

SprintalsodeployedlocationserversthatenableLynctodetectemployeeslocationsautomaticallybasedontheirnetworkconnection。

Ataglance,employeescanseelocationinformationforco-workersthroughtheLyncclient。

Peoplereallypayattentiontopresenceandlocation,Woodromesays。

Nowtheycanseenotonlyifsomeoneisavailablebutwherethatpersonis,sotheydonotwastetimewalkingovertoanotheroffice。

AndSprintemployeesarenowmoreproductivethanever。

MicrosoftLyncallowsustobemoreproductive,morecollaborativewithourteams,tojoinaconferencecallwithoutanynumbersorwithoutanycodesyoucanjustclickabutton,Woodromesays。

Withtheclickofamouse,wecanmovefromaninstantmessagingsessiontoaphonecalltoanonlinemeetingwherewecansharedocumentsandapplications。

Sprinthasreducedbothitsoperationalcostsanditsenvironmentalimpact,inadditiontoprovidingamoreproductive,flexibleworkenvironmentforemployees。

ThecompanyestimatesatotalcostsavingsofmorethanUS$44millionperyearinreducedofficespacerental,localcarrierchargesandutilitiescosts,aswellasthecompleteeliminationofPBXmaintenancecosts。

ByupgradingtoLyncServer,Sprinthasmovedevenclosertomeetingitsgoalstoreduceitsenvironmentalimpactandensureavirtuallyanywhere,anytimemobileworkforce。

Whenweimplementedunifiedcommunications,Woodromesays,wehadanopportunitytofurtherexpandonthedefinitionofmobility,leveragingthetechnologythatSprinthasintroducedtobusinesscustomers。

Nownothingtiesaworkertoaparticularspotinanofficeenvironment。

SwisscomDialsIntotheFuture

InnovationrulesintheSwissmarket,wherecustomersexpectthelatesttechnologiesineveryproducttheyuse,fromkitchenappliancestocomputers。

ForSwisscom,thelargestprovideroffixednetwork,mobilenetworksandunifiedcommunicationstechnologiesinSwitzerland,thisdemandmeanscontinuallyembracingtheforefrontofcommunicationsinnovationstounderstandwherethefutureoftelecomtechnologyisheaded。

Tothatend,SwisscomrecentlydeployedMicrosoftLynctoits20,000usersforenhancedcollaborationandvoicecapabilities。

Asaresult,SwisscomisnowrespondingtoRFPs20percentfasterandisanticipatingatotalof$17millionincostsavingsoverfiveyearsacrosstelephonyoperations,travelexpensesandtheeliminationofPBXupgrades。

WealreadyhadOfficeCommunicationsServerR2inplace,sotheupgradetoLynctookusjustfourweeks,saysMichaelKerle,seniordirectorofproductstrategyatSwisscom。

Theimplementationwasnotdifficult。

Whatwefaced,mainlyatthebeginning,isthatpeopleareusedtoworkingwirelessly。

Wedontusecablesatall。

Wedonthavefixedoffices。

Werunfromoneofficetotheother。

Wejustsitdownwheretheressomethingavailable。

SowereallyhadtoheavilyinvestinourwirelessnetworkwhenweupgradedtoMicrosoftLyncbecausethepreviousnetworkwasntmadeforreal-timecommunications。

Thecompanydecommissioned94legacyPBXsystemsfromanumberofvendors。

Afteracertainnumberofyearsyouhavetoupgradethemandthatcostsmoney,Kerlesays。

Anditsnotreallyfuture-orientedanymorebecauseyourebasicallyreplacingonephonesystemwithanotherphonesystem,andthefunctionalityisthesame。

Butyouspendalotofmoney。

Plusmanaging94differentPBXsystemsrequired94differentmanagementsystems。

LynchasboostedcollaborationforSwisscominacoupleways。

Forone,employeesdonthavetotravelasoften。

Teamscancollaborateandsharedocumentsfromanyoffice,anywhere,evenfromhome,savingtimeandexpense。

Inaddition,collaborationcanbemorespontaneous。

Ifyouworkonprojectteams,littlequestionscomeupallthetime,andwithLyncyoucaneasilyclarifythings,Kerlesays。

YoucanquicklyshareaPowerPointpresentation,Excelspreadsheetorwhatever。

Andthat,Ithink,hasreallychangedhowpeopleworktogether。

Weremoreefficientinthewaywecollaboratenow。

PartofthatefficiencyisbecauseofMicrosoftLyncspresencefeature。

Employeesnolongerhavetospendtimetryingtotrackdownco-workers。

Ifsomeonesstatusissettoaway,employeescanwaituntiltheotherpersonisavailabletosendanemailormakeacall。

SwisscomhasnotonlyembracedMicrosoftLyncacrosstheorganization,butthetechnologieshavebecomeacorepartofwhatthecompanyisofferingtoitscustomers。

Swisscomprovidesmanagedcommunicationsandcollaborationservices,whichincludeMicrosoftLync,ExchangeandSharePoint2010,alongwiththecompanysconnectivityandsecurityofferings。

Theseservicesareavailabletobusinesscustomersforafixedpriceperuser,permonth。

So,intheendpeopledonthavetoinvestinthosethingsanymore,theyjustgettheservicefromSwisscom,Kerlesays。

Weruntheserviceeitheroutofourdatacentersoroutofthecustomersdatacentersonpremiseatthecustomersiteiftheywish。

KerlesaysthatsomeofSwisscomscustomersareunsurewhethertheyarereadytoletgooftheirdeskphones。

Soweletthemvisitourofficestoseetheresnotasinglephoneleft,andthereareactuallythousandsandthousandsofpeopleusinghandsetswithMicrosoftLync,andmakingcalls。

Thathelpsalot。

TheNewNormal

MicrosoftLyncenablespeopletocommunicateinnewways,increasingproductivitywherevertheyare。

WithfeaturesthatincludeHDvideo,conferencerecordingandsocialfeaturessuchasstatusupdatesandactivityfeeds,Lyncgivespeopleamorecollaborative,in-personexperiencethanstandardPBXsystems。

Peoplecanchoosehowtomanagetheirconversations,redirectcalls,settheirlevelofavailability,anddecidehowandwhentheycanbereached。

Afewyearsago,BillGatespredictedthatsoftwarewouldchangethewaypeoplecommunicate。

Today,wearewitnessingthatvisioncometofruition。