Milgram’s current upgrade of our telephone systems is part of a technology improvement program that’s been going on for several years. If there’s one thing we learned over that time, it’s that you have to know what you need from the get-go. If you plan right from the beginning, you not only avoid issues on the current project, you set the table for future change and improvement. We are currently installing SIP trunking, which will give us a true voice/data solution and pave the way for future unified communications solutions. But because of the work we did in the past, we weren’t starting from scratch.
In the beginning, we were trying to centralize our PBX and voicemail systems to pass everything through head office, but our existing solution couldn’t handle that. Allstream proposed MPLS, installing E100 MPLS access in Montreal and Toronto, and ES1s in our other three locations. More recently, we wanted to build failover and redundancy between our Toronto and Montreal offices. We tried to use the Allstream Wavelength solution that had been successful for an office migration in Montreal, but the much greater distance between the two cities created too much latency. That’s where MPLS came back into the picture. Allstream installed Riverbed WAN accelerators on the MPLS line. Now we have a 60 MB link as opposed to a 1GB solution, and it’s 10 times faster.
Again, one solution plays into another. Once the Montreal-Toronto link problem was solved, we freed up revenue to purchase a new IP phone system and allocate to the current SIP trunking project, which will replace our PRIs with SIP trunking installed over our existing MPLS network. All in all, the implementation has been smooth and incremental. There was some internal resistance to MPLS initially from older school telephone system supporters, but the benefits in speed, cost, reliability and management make the MPLS value proposition pretty clear, pretty quick.
Also clear is how critical it is to take the time to really understand your company needs and to work with your provider to get the right core systems in place. Allstream spent a long time with us reviewing our telephone system upgrade requirements, outlining the MPLS project and explaining the advantages of the Riverbed WAN upgrade. When we worked it out in detail things went well; the one time we went too fast—trying to use the Wavelength solution between Montreal and Toronto—was the one time we had issues.
So spend time to analyze and work with your providers. We’re lucky to have a full team working with us at Allstream, not just sales people but technical experts as well. Communication and shared trust is the key to project success and long-term value, and that’s where I feel we’re at.
Learn more about how Milgram worked with Allstream by downloading the complete case study.