Thursday, December 17, 2009

PSTN is dead. Long live VoIP!

Follow the money!

Deep Throat was right! Just, in our case, nothing sweetens the life of the Management as a scratched line in the new budget.

As IT guy, I have been pitching VoIP for about two years. Every time my boss sent me to “take a drug test”. If it ain't broke, don't fix it… you know how it goes… However, one day our business office contacted me regarding an ISDN line in a remote office; I went to check what they are talking about and out local Phone Gate exploded. I carried the monthly phone bill with wheel barrel (all 700 pages of it) back to my office and spent next few days digging. You will be surprised what I found in it – charges for a phone service we considered “disconnected” (at least OUR record showed a disconnection order was placed), double charge for the same service (one remote office was charged for three Auto Attendant services and they were not aware of it), number of accounts charged for a Voice Mail box (the people did not knew they had one… hmm, wander if someone from the phone company decided they need one but forgot to inform them). In fact, we were paying for an ISDN line (active or not) located in a building that we no longer occupy. I am not implying it is always the Big Bad Phone Company that cheats. As we say in my native country, Bulgaria – “It is not crazy the one that eats the entire cake, but the one that gives it”. Long story short, our MRC was $10,000, effective charges varied month by month between $11,500 - $13,000 (not sure what your provider charges, but we were paying $250 when moving a user from one office to another and the “number” needed to be moved as well.)

We at Georgia Military College already had Office Communication Server R2 deployed and all roles but Enterprise Voice was used. For me, as IT guy, EV integrated with Exchange UM role was the logical choice for telephony solution for the college, just… my approach was wrong! Let me tell you a story. After many attempts, my VP managed to arrange a meeting with the President (sort of Grand Jury) where we presented our case. So, I am going to the meeting and as IT, got carried away talking about the beauty of Unified Communications - integration of presence, email, voice, voice mail, conferencing etc. After 15 minutes or so, the President goes “…why are you wasting my time with this…” and I almost had a hard attack. Fortunately, the second part of the presentation was about the money. Sweet topic, indeed. Needless to say, before the end of the presentation, I had the money for deployment on my disposal with the words - “I want this and I want this now”. Beware what you wish, I can add, but this is whole different story and I will blog about this later.

Today, eight months later, we are 100% OCS EV. Our MRC for phone service is $2,100 (remember $13,000 just few months ago?) and we are very close to our ROI point.

I started this blog to share our experience and hopefully help some colleagues to achieve their dream – Unified Communications at their work place.

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