The network upgrade business case that practically wrote itself

A member of the Scalar Decisions internal technology support team talks about the need to make sure technological growth parallels business growth

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Growth is every company’s goal, and in the technology business, it’s innovative products and services that usually make it possible. It’s not hard, however, for business growth to hit a wall if a company gets ahead of its own support capabilities. Scalar Decisions is a company you might say is growing rapidly, but we’ve always made sure business growth is paralleled and supported by our technological capabilities and infrastructure. Most recently, we had to take stock of our communications network, and we realized we needed to make a change.

As a provider of data centre-based IT solutions, we realized how important it was to sales, service and overall operations to have a centralized platform that would integrate communications between our five national offices. Our existing telephone and data network was made up of standalone systems and multiple vendors, so we took action and replaced it with a centralized data centre in Toronto. Now Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, London and Toronto all have a router and a managed switch. This feeds back into the MPLS cloud and is routed to Toronto, where all internet and telephone traffic is managed. This system gives staff mobile access to their office extensions, and they can be on conference calls from anywhere.

The business case for this solution almost made itself—if we want to keep growing we need to upgrade communications. And our provider delivered big time, pulling off a full national rollout in about 45 days. Set-up and training were fairly straightforward, as the Mitel PBX system is quite intuitive for users. We simply set up a conference bridge for each employee and emailed them their access information. We never needed to do a full-on workshop or training session—10 minutes and a little experience was enough.

Integration of the telephone platform was also quite simple as Mitel can be fully optimized for VMWare, which is one of our core platforms (unlike some alternative solutions which were proprietary and would have required customization). Taking full advantage of our UC capabilities is proving a bit more of a challenge. If you’re a straight Exchange and Windows shop, Mitel is seamless, but we’re very multi-platform. We use Mac, Linux, iPhones, BlackBerries, Androids and more, and we’re not on Exchange, so we still have to do more testing to get our UC capabilities fully functional and integrated. The potential cost savings, however, make it a next-in-line project.

For anyone considering a similar upgrade project, there are certainly a few key questions to ask. What do you want from your phone system? Which features? Do you have current features you think could be improved? And capacity planning is critical. We’ve doubled our licensing and SIP trunks in the past 12 months from about 45 nationally to 93, and we now have about 120 employees. So ask yourself how many people are spread across offices. How frequently do you use conferencing (if you plan to do it in-house)? How many physical devices do you need? (Bear in mind that hot-desking can help manage those numbers to less than a one employee to one phone ratio.) And of course, how fast do you see these numbers changing?

We’ve all seen examples of how growth can go south pretty quickly if you’re not ready for it. By upgrading our systems to meet our practical requirements, we can better support our growing business—and hopefully make sure it stays that way.

For more on how Scalar worked with Allstream, download the complete case study  

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