Global Crossing Takes First
Steps in Unified Communications "> The next steps will be to integrate communications functions into other core business applications and determine when to replace traditional desktop phones with OCS soft-phones on the desktop. Global Crossing will also roll out Exchange 2007 across the company in the next several months to take advantage of voicemail and auto-assistance in Outlook. The IS team during and after the rollout kept track of statistics gathered by Microsofts Mediation Server to determine how quickly users were adopting the new capabilities."We keep track of all IM sessions per week, conferencing services, video sessions to see where people are leveraging [the new technology]. During the controlled beta tests, we saw 20,000 IM sessions per week. After the rollout, that [number] jumped to 120,000 a week. And were seeing conferencing running at 1,200 or so a week," said Fuqua.Fuqua was surprised that the number of trouble tickets that were initiated as a result of the rollout only increased by 10 to 20 percent initially and then dropped down to 3 to 5 percent more than normal at the help desk. Steve Schafer, who heads up the OCS deployment team, attributed many of those new trouble tickets to training and usage issues. The IS team worked hard to insure that availability issues would not be a problem by designing the system with plenty of high availability features and hardened the environment across all elements, including servers, clients and networks. "We did a lot of load testing on the [eight OCS] servers. We wanted to assure ourselves the load structure was good, so that we were solid as the volume activities and usage actions increased. We looked at Quality of Service structures and made sure we had no congested points in our network," said Schafer in Rochester, N.Y. Global Crossing also created multiple front-end servers for OCS with load balancers. "We know if one front-end server goes down, [traffic] is rerouted to another. And we have the same services on the edge. We are constantly looking at disaster recovery and how quickly we could be running again if a data center was obliterated," said Schafer. "When youre talking about adding things like dial tone, you need higher availability than a standard IM client," he added. Although the primary aim of the project was not to reduce telecommunications costs, that has been a side benefit. "Were not spending money on conferencing externally, and we can use on-net telephony so we are saving dollars there. I look at software as a major component of the future of networking as well. This fits strategically," said Fuqua. Of course, it doesnt hurt that the on-net conferencing alone will pay for the deployment in about six months time. Still more savings will result from less travel. Fuqua, who estimates that the project in the first year cost roughly $25 to $28 per seat, said that some business units expect to reduce travel costs by 50 percent in the fourth quarter by using OCS. And by reducing the hit that productivity takes when exceptions to a business process happen, Global Crossing is reducing costs there as well as improving customer satisfaction. "Every time you have some exception in workflow, and it takes 35 minutes to resolve that, theres a cost benefit there if you can lower it to 12 minutes per exception," said Schafer. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.