College of William and Mary Case Study
College of William and Mary matriculates to modern IP telephony with a ShoreTel UC Solution
8,000-line legacy system was falling apart
The college PBX and voicemail systems were installed in the 1980s. To keep things up and running, the college IT department relied on a stockpile of parts scavenged from old equipment. A reliable system that complied with emergency communication mandate
The College of William and Mary prides itself on being not just one of the very oldest institutions of higher learning in America, but also one of the top-ranked universities. What was not so savvy at the College of William and Mary was its telephone system.
Originally put into commission more than 30 years ago, the reliability of such an old system was becoming questionable, and the college was concerned about outages across voice communications, which are critical to the school’s operations. Also, the college was required to comply with emergency communication (E911) mandates and wanted to upgrade in alignment with new building projects.
To head off potentially significant phone issues, Courtney Carpenter, the college’s chief information officer, set out to find a new IP telephony solution. His team issued a request for proposal (RFP), inviting responses from more than a dozen vendors representing all of the major telephone system manufacturers. “We were focusing mostly on systems that could ensure redundancy and high availability. The new solution would need to be easy to deploy and manage and use, and we really wanted next-generation technology for a higher grade of communication and collaboration across the institution,” says Carpenter.
The college chose ShoreTel due to its resiliency, distributed architecture, ease of use, and scalability. ShoreTel IP telephones were another reason for the school’s selection. “We recognized that the phone sets are what end-users see. As we narrowed down our vendor choices, we actually put up test systems for the finalists and had a group of about 80 users come through and test the phones. Overwhelmingly, they liked ShoreTel’s phones. The instruments are intuitive, easy to use, and well made,” Carpenter continues.
A ShoreTel UC solution would be able to replace the College’s aging PBX system with advanced VoIP technology that cohesively extends phone services and collaborative tools. “ShoreTel’s tagline is ‘brilliantly simple’ — and it really is. Some of the phone systems we reviewed were really complicated, but setting up and managing the ShoreTel system seems very straightforward. You don’t need weeks of training just to figure it out. That was a big plus,” he says.
College graduates to ShoreTel UC to modernize campus collaboration
The College of William and Mary implemented a ShoreTel UC Solution that includes ShoreTel Professional Communicator, ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center (ECC), and more than 3,000 ShoreTel IP telephones. The new system has provided expanded phone services to all campus constituents by leveraging modern VoIP technology, including desktop software for managing calls and access to voicemail-to-email.
All staff members received a new ShoreTel desk phone and the option to use Professional Communicator. Communicator creates a softphone on the desktop, enabling users to interact with a display panel and greatly simplify messaging with the integration of voicemail, email, and calendars into a single interface, including Microsoft Outlook and Active Directory.
In addition to the many new productivity features, William and Mary implemented the 911 Enable Emergency Gateway, a ShoreTel certified E911 solution. The application enables the college police department to instantly identify the location of any phone on campus from which an emergency call is placed. This safety enablement meets federal emergency 911 requirements and will help William and Mary safety personnel to quickly respond and coordinate in urgent situations.
“WE WERE FOCUSING MOSTLY ON SYSTEMS THAT COULD ENSURE REDUNDANCY AND HIGH AVAILABILITY. THE NEW SOLUTION WOULD NEED TO BE EASY TO DEPLOY AND MANAGE AND USE, AND WE REALLY WANTED NEXTGENERATION TECHNOLOGY FOR A HIGHER GRADE OF COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION ACROSS THE INSTITUTION.”
Courtney Carpenter, CIO
College of William and Mary
The ShoreTel system uses distributed IP architecture with N+1 redundancy and no single point of failure for built-in disaster recovery, plus 99.999 percent availability for mission-critical business continuity. ShoreTel Voice Switches bolster reliable call management across the school’s network. “Because the ShoreTel system is distributed in various data centers around campus, we reduce risk. Plus we can bring in multiple connections to the public telephone network to make it even more resilient,” Carpenter explains.
ShoreTel UC gives the college staff the royal treatment
With the expert help of IPC Technologies, the College of William and Mary launched its ShoreTel system. “We really enjoy working with IPC—that was definitely part of the decision as well. They are providing our long-term support and we are very comfortable with their capabilities,” comments Carpenter.
The college had a requirement for 3,700 licenses for this large ShoreTel deployment. “ShoreTel’s straightforward licensing structure was also appealing. A basic license covers most everything you need except for call center applications. And ShoreTel had the best price point by far. We got the price we wanted and our first choice from a technology standpoint. Everything came together,” he adds.
The college plans to roll out its ECC deployment soon, which will allow the college to further customize call routing, outbound campaign features, and expand communication outreach activities. With highly automated productivity tools that enable users to instantly access voice, video, and instant messaging, the college can simplify how call activity is managed, monitored, and better integrated into the daily workflow.
The College of William and Mary received the royal treatment from its VoIP partners. “We are very happy with our selection of ShoreTel technologies and the support from IPC. From RFP evaluation to full campus rollout, we’ve been very pleased with the truly smart, simple architecture, manageability, and intuitive user features. I guess we’ve come out of the PBX dark ages in a grand way,” concludes Carpenter.
“SHORETEL’S TAGLINE IS ‘BRILLIANTLY SIMPLE’ — AND IT REALLY IS. SOME OF THE PHONE SYSTEMS WE REVIEWED WERE REALLY COMPLICATED, BUT SETTING UP AND MANAGING THE SHORETEL SYSTEM SEEMS VERY STRAIGHTFORWARD. YOU DON’T NEED WEEKS OF TRAINING JUST TO FIGURE IT OUT. THAT WAS A BIG PLUS.”
The College of William and Mary had an old PBX telephone system that used scavenged parts and needed third-party technicians to keep it running.
The College deployed ShoreTel solutions, including ShoreTel Voice Switches, ShoreTel IP telephones, ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center, ShoreTel Communicator, and 3,700 licenses.
- State-of-the-art VoIP, E911, softphone, and unified messaging
- Conference call capabilities
- Expedited call handling
- Streamlined workflow that increased productivity