Not-for-profit employment/training provider MTC Australia has ditched 500 desktop phones in favour of voice over IP (VoIP) and is now phasing out its aging PC fleet.
This is part of an organisation wide cloud first strategy, lead by MTC Australia CIO Branko Ceran, designed to reduce IT costs.
He told CIO Australia he did a staged implementation of Lync VoIP and the cloud-based Office 365 software at its 32 locations around Australia at the rate of two offices a week, beginning in September 2013.
To help prepare staff for the final changeover to Lync and Office 365, they were asked to unplug their desktop phones and take them to a meeting. They were then shown how to use Lync and issued headsets.
“Staff can access Lync on their iPhone or Android smartphone. The only desktop phones we kept were for meeting rooms,” he said.
“We’re taking advantage of being more mobile and moving between sites or around offices. We’ve gone from the dark ages and caught up to where we should be.”
While reducing costs was a driver, Ceran said that he wanted to implement collaboration features that staff would actually use at work.
“One of my pet hates are those extra [technology] bells and whistles that no-one uses, I think that’s a waste of time. We are making full use of video conferencing, desktop sharing, presence and messaging.”
For example, staff are using collaboration tools in SharePoint and Lync to work on projects without having to travel to different locations. Staff can select desktop sharing when they need to show someone located in another office how to use functions in a new system.
“We did a [staff] survey recently and found that our collaboration has improved 20 per cent since the implementation,” Ceran said.
“We can get 10 people working together and looking at the same shared document.”
The Lync and Office 365 rollout was completed in December 2013.
Turning to the desktop phase-out, he said that it has a notebook/tablet only program. For example, if staff a currently use a desktop PC and notebook, the organisation is getting rid of the PC when it is due to be refreshed.
Eventually, Ceran wants all 500 employees to be using a notebook or tablet.
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To help speed up application delivery of Office 365 to its workers, the not-for-profit deployed a wide area network (WAN) optimisation offering called Steelhead by vendor Riverbed in late 2013.
“We have accelerated application delivery up to 300 per cent, resulting in sub-second response time for Office 365 which is located in a data centre in Singapore. We have also been able to reduce bandwidth upgrade costs by two-thirds,” he said.
“That meant we didn’t have to refresh all of our server hardware and associated backups. CAPEX and OPEX have been reduced significantly as well.”
Ceran added that if CIOs are still thinking about implementing a cloud strategy, they should “stop analysing and just do it”.
“There are challenges in terms of executing a cloud first strategy, but for us it was important that everyone understood why we were doing it and how we were going to do it.
“I’m a big believer in time to benefit and that’s why we completed this migration in three months.”
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