Hosted VoIP eases office relocation

Group GSA is an architectural firm with 100 staff located in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Group GSA's continued growth meant that its Sydney office move to larger premises in August 2006 - relocating all staff and their head office operations.

Group GSA is an architectural firm with 100 staff located in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Group GSA's continued growth meant that its Sydney office move to larger premises in August 2006 - relocating all staff and their head office operations.

Group GSA owned a traditional PABX system that was less than two years old. Moving to the new building and retaining it would require them to cable the building for both voice and data, adding to the project's capital costs. A PABX relocation would also require the total loss of telephony for at least three days while the hardware was removed and recommissioned at the new building. Additionally, Group GSA would also have to foot the bill for all the mandated technicians to attend.

While a proprietary VoIP upgrade was suggested by Group GSA's incumbent PABX supplier, their six-figure price tag seemed somewhat excessive. Jim Wright, Group GSA's IT manager, soon became very receptive to the concept of a hosted VoIP solution.

The system offered by ValueNet provided a thorough cost and operational analysis of the current and proposed system, a hosted IP telephony service and additional features such as teleconferencing, reception console, authorisation codes, hunt groups, unlimited lines and more. Some of the recognisable business benefits included telecommunications flexibility in adding new users and new sites, installation simplicity as there was no PABX installation required, reduced costs for moves, adds and changes, reduced office cabling and associated costs, and disaster recovery ensures calls can be redirected to another location for ongoing communication. As well as an important quantifiable benefit, ie the estimated cost savings, was increased customer service without the need for additional resources.

Hosted VoIP follows a model similar to traditional Centrex where the carrier, in this case ValueNet, owns, manages and rents access to all of the necessary network equipment. The service is then delivered to the customer over dedicated broadband 'tails' from ValueNet's closest point of presence (POP).

The proposed hosted VoIP solution would be 50% of the cost of a traditional PABX solution. Additionally, the hosted system also provided Group GSA with a number of productivity benefits such as the ability to create a centralised receptionist who has visibility of all staff availability whether in Sydney, Brisbane or Perth.

Jim Wright estimates a saving of up to 25% off the company's current communications costs. He is still working on how to measure the business productivity impacts on the additional functionality achieved.

Group GSA's offices in Sydney and Brisbane connect to ValueNet's highly optimised network via dedicated SHDSL or frame relay connections. The use of dedicated connections allows ValueNet to offer a guaranteed quality of service (QoS). ValueNet has full control of all elements of the service (access circuit and backbone network) which also allows a variety of services to be bundled with VoIP with no voice quality degradation being experienced.

Group GSA's Cisco IP-enabled handsets connect directly into the company's new LAN. The PCs connect through the in-built switch in each phone, saving on office cabling costs. Adding new handsets is as simple as plugging them in and assigning a phone number. Auto-configuration then occurs using the parameters defined in the onsite DHCP (dynamic host control protocol) server.

"The implementation went smoothly with no productivity loss and the business benefits kicked in immediately - something that took us all by surprise. Group GSA has an in-dial range of 100 numbers as direct lines for all our staff. I was expecting to lose those numbers during the move; however, with ValueNet migrating these numbers to its own private network, all I had to do was sign them over and they were ready and tested from the first day of our new office being occupied," said Wright.

Group GSA is keen to take advantage of further productivity enhancements by integrating its Lotus Notes system with its new VoIP environment.

Group GSA's voicemail system will also allow its directors to receive voicemails as sound files attached to email messages, reducing the number of message systems that need to be monitored and ensuring that they can keep in touch with all aspects of the business no matter what communication tool is used.

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