Canyon County

Find the Right Fit

Canyon County relies on Cerium’s local expertise for Microsoft Lync Migration.

Canyon County is part of the Boise metropolitan area in the southwest region of Idaho. With a county seat in Caldwell, Canyon County is about 80% rural. Canyon County offers services to the county’s residents for law enforcement, courts, assessment, and other general government services.

Canyon County had a need to upgrade their legacy Nortel solution, which had reached end-of-life. The implementation was a huge step for the county, coming from a dated Nortel environment.

Partners

Solutions Provided

  • Canyon County needed to upgrade their legacy Nortel solution and after a long evaluation process saw that Microsoft® Lync® would be a good fit.
  • Cerium Networks stepped in while Canyon County was seeking a local resource for the maintenance of their Avaya and Nortel systems.
  • Cerium not only brought a new and powerful communications solution to the table with Microsoft Lync, but also delivered a smooth migration path for the County to start rolling out Lync the solution in an orderly fashion.
  • Lync’s features such as presence, softphones, mobility, and recording have made collaboration and communications “exponentially easier.”
Factors in the decision process included:

  • Integration with the rest of the County’s Microsoft ecosystem
  • Licensing costs were significantly less because Canyon County already had Lync client licensing
  • Configuration and deployment of response groups for the purpose of routing and queuing incoming calls to agents.

The Evaluation Process for a New UC Solution

Canyon County evaluated “The Big Three” unified communications solutions (Microsoft, Avaya, Cisco), and then some. Chris Everett, Infrastructure Engineer for Canyon County, describes the evaluation process for the Lync solution, “We started looking around as early as 2001–2002. We encountered a lot of products that would make life easier for IT, such as more features and ease of administration, but we encountered few products that would make life easier for our end users, based on how they used their phones. Early in the Lync lifecycle (2011), we were seeing a product that might be a fit. When version 2013 was released, we formalized our direction within about six months.” Chris went on to explain that the end user culture was a critical factor in the selection process.

“Cerium has deep experience with the PBX that was being replaced,” says Steve Fisher, VP of Sales at Cerium. “The County, with Cerium’s support, was able to network the two environments together and then gradually migrate users across to Lync when it made sense for them.”

The relationship between Cerium and Canyon County began when Canyon County sought a local resource for the maintenance of their Avaya and Nortel systems, after the County’s relationship with a remote-only vendor. It was through the initiation of a maintenance and service relationship, that Cerium became aware of the County’s interest in a Lync solution. Cerium not only brought a new and powerful communications solution to the table with Microsoft Lync, but also delivered a smooth migration path for the County to start rolling out the solution in an orderly fashion, giving them a single-source vendor supporting the whole environment.

“I flew in our Microsoft Solutions Architect to meet with Canyon County a number of times to provide a demo, and discuss the benefits of Lync,” says Cerium Account Executive, Paul Rutter. Canyon County later attended a Lync demonstration at Cerium’s Boise office, helping to solidify the final selection for Microsoft Lync.

The Implementation

Prior to the deployment of the Lync Edge environment, Cerium conducted a discovery and planning session focused on the Lync Edge prerequisites and best practices. The session began with a review of Canyon County’s existing perimeter network to determine if it could support Edge services. Cerium also established the business and network requirements for the deployment of a Location Information Services (LIS) database in Microsoft Lync. Cerium worked with Canyon County to gather data on the existing dial plan in order to properly plan for the deployment of the new E.164-based dial plan within the Lync Server. Cerium also configured and deployed a second Lync 2013 Front End Server instance, which paired with the existing Front End Server pool for failover.

The new Lync solution was initially rolled out as a pilot in the Information Technology office. Disruption was kept to a minimum during the implementation: the Nortel system remained standing and cutovers were performed at night. 4-digit dialing has been maintained between the Nortel and Lync systems, as some departments are still on Nortel. The IT staff is working on the continuing migration administratively. “The two environments [Nortel and Lync] work in parallel without issue. Nothing changes for the CS1000 customer until the migration happens for their department,” says Chris.

Cerium provided remote support during the cutovers via two of Cerium’s highly skilled Microsoft engineers. “As long as you have someone on site that can plug things in, you almost never need an onsite implementation person, but the availability of one was important to us,” said Chris. “Canyon County’s IT performed the virtualization, exchange, SQL, etc.”

Cerium’s other configuration services included:

  • Emergency Location Identi cation Number (ELIN) software on the AudioCodes Mediant 1000 gateway(s), in conjunction with the Lync LIS database, to provide the Emergency Response Locations (ERL) information to the local PSAP T1 connectivity between the PSTN and the AudioCodes gateway
  • Lync dial plan based on a completed discovery session for the purpose of deploying Lync Enterprise Voice
  • Dial-in conferencing services such that Lync collaboration sessions could include callers from the Public
  • Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and/or from within a Private Branch Exchange (PBX).
  • Configuration and deployment of response groups for the purpose of routing and queuing incoming calls to agents.

Training

Cerium’s implementing engineer provided training to Canyon County’s IT staff for management and maintenance of the voice components of Microsoft Lync and its integration with a third party PBX and/or the PSTN. Training also included a knowledge transfer session to review AudioCodes configurations performed by Cerium.

The Cerium Learning Center provided training to the pilot group on how to reproduce specific Nortel functionality within Lync, including:

  • Lync Response Group Design
  • Phone to roll over/hunt to another phone
  • Ring pick up groups
  • Speed call groups
  • Call restrictions: local/long distance/auto dialing
  • Roll over to voicemail
  • Exchange Unified Messaging (Exchange UM) Auto
    Attendant Configuration
Chris and his department used this as a template for developing their own training process for their end users. Additionally, the pilot in IT provided an experiential foundation to the IT staff; so going forward, they had some expertise to present to each department which followed in the migration. The IT office would conduct a 1.5-hour demonstration and training for each department and included demo headsets and phones, so the end user could select the equipment they were comfortable with. IT provided an option for a Polycom VVX 310 phone, one chosen by some departments that typically do not receive many calls, and several options for headsets for softphone users, such as the Plantronics W440-M and Blackwire C510 headsets.

The training session also covered the use of Lync including:

  • How to make a phone call (dialing 9 or 1 is not needed with Lync)
  • Voicemail (Exchange UM)
  • Presence
  • Collaboration Features

Features & User Adoption

Presence & Soft Phones

 

Mobility Client

 

Lync Meetings, Meeting Recording, & Collaboration

 

Voicemail (Exchange Unified Messaging)

 

Administration

 

Canyon County has more than 250 users now using Lync. End users utilizing softphone enjoy the extra space on their desks. For Canyon County, “presence” has been the biggest change and feature that has made things more efficient for them. “It’s been significant. There is no guesswork, and it’s reduced the amount of ‘noise’ for us.” Chris explains that there isn’t office noise associated with phones ringing for long periods of time for employees who are not at their desks. He also explains that the softphones combined with headsets further eliminate the sound of phones ringing throughout the office, creating a more peaceful, enjoyable, and productive space to be in.

With softphone/headset scenarios, there may be some concerns about headset functionality, in terms of battery charge, but Chris explains that the use of headsets has been a successful option for Canyon County. “We’ve not had any issues with the headsets losing charge, but some that use the phone heavily have gone with a wired set. Adopting the muscle memory for returning the headset to the charger at lunch/night is a requirement.”

Most of Canyon County end users are at one campus, but there were a few smaller remote locations with just a phone or two. Those offices brought some great value to the Lync mobility pieces, as in the case with the County’s Parks & Recreation department. This department was the first mobility end user to actively use the feature, which proved essential for them.

Lync meetings and collaboration features are a growing feature set with Canyon County staff. Though they had similar capabilities in the past with their Nortel system, it’s exponentially easier with Lync, according to Chris. “We don’t have to go through hoops to set up a conference,” he says. Chris says that IT is considering offering a recorded tutorial, using the Lync recording feature, for onboarding new personnel. He goes on to say, “we’ll probably replace some of our other training with some of these recorded pieces, or use live screen sharing and collaboration features to assist our helpdesk. This collaboration set replaces many previous processes.”

Canyon County is utilizing Exchange UM for their voicemail. They find the Speech to Text feature, which delivers voicemail to the user’s email, while not always accurate, is beneficial. Chris explains that the recording includes hotlinks in the audio file, so it becomes searchable. End users can also reset the voicemail pin on their own, creating greater ease of administration.

Lync offers a straightforward and easeful administration model, with mature reporting and uncomplicated MAC administration is performed internally by IT. Any complex matters are brought to the Cerium Support Center. The relationship of Cerium to Canyon County is one of a trusted advisor and technology partner. Chris places a lot of credit for this to the account executive. “Our account executive has been appropriately hands-on. He’s taken care of us really well. Any issues have been quickly addressed and fixed. This means a lot to me. All complex technology will have issues, this is a given. I have complete confidence in Paul, that our issues will be resolved.” Chris adds that the depth of expertise in Cerium’s subject matter experts (SMEs) is an elite and valuable resource. “You have some really great SMEs at Cerium. I even find that some of the Cerium SMEs have provided answers on forums and blogs, and I know that they are at the forefront of technology and knowledge.”

our element is communication

 

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