Australian Bureau of Statistics ditches Cisco for Skype

As part of its transformation project, the Australian Bureau of Statistics is on the hunt for a provider to move its telephony environment over to Skype for Business.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has published a request for tender (RFT), seeking submissions for the migration of its telephony environment from Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) to Skype for Business Enterprise Voice.

The ABS is in the process of redefining its business processes as part of a department-wide transformation program aimed at changing the way information and statistics is collected, managed, and delivered.

According to the ABS, the transformation will involve "reengineering ABS business processes", as well as investing in enterprise-wide services and core foundation infrastructure which the ABS hopes will result in "reusable functionality" across multiple business activities.

"ABS' future state will be designed to be business driven, information and technology assisted, and operationally aligned," the RFT reads.

At the same time, the ABS is implementing flexible working arrangements and activity-based working across all offices.

"This project will change the way staff work and robust feature-rich collaboration solutions will be a key enabler of success," the ABS wrote.

Currently, the ABS heavily relies on multiple communications services in the Unified Communications space, however as flexible working arrangements are rolled out, the ABS wants to simplify, and modernise, its stack.

"As [flexible working arrangements and activity-based working] are rolled out across the ABS, these services will become increasingly important to allow staff working remotely from their colleagues to engage and collaborate," the RFT says.

The ABS wants field staff and those working in any of its offices to have full access to the ABS CRM, as well as the ability for all employees to make and receive calls from a virtual Windows NextGen Desktop environment and mobile devices regardless of location.

The 400-odd field officers currently use laptops running Windows 7 Enterprise.

The ABS currently uses CUCM to provide all telephony services and Skype for Business provides Instant Messaging and Presence; desktop video conferencing is also through Skype to Skype meetings and Polycom integration to virtual meeting rooms; while IPFX Unified Contact Centre is employed to manage internal support processes and facilitate engagement with businesses and citizens.

As part of the ABS' transformation program, Pega 7 is being implemented as a CRM and work allocation solution. The RFT explains Confirmit Horizons integrates with Pega to provide online forms used to gather survey responses.

"As these services are currently provided through multiple vendor solutions, the ABS now seeks to simplify, unify, and modernise its communications, contact centre, and telephony stack," the agency explains.

According to the tender, principal elements of this strategy will include the migration of base telephony services from CUCM to Skype for Business Enterprise Voice and the replacement of IPFX with a more "feature-rich" contact centre solution that is compatible and integrates with both Skype EV and Pega 7.

As part of the ABS' transformation program, a new server infrastructure environment -- Next Generation Infrastructure (NGI) -- has been deployed to ultimately host all on-premise platforms.

"The goal of this project is to enhance the security, flexibility, and maintainability of ABS server infrastructure," the ABS said.

See also: Skype update improves business collaboration with cloud file sharing and new add-ins

The existing Skype for Business servers are hosted on legacy infrastructure and any on-premise rebuilds of the Skype for Business and associated Exchange servers would be expected to be in NGI.

The NGI environment is "heavily firewalled" and utilises VMWare vRealize Automation to automate deployments and VMWare NSX for virtualised networking.

"Proposals should identify the pros and cons of the various platform configurations that may make up the solution, ie cloud, hybrid, on-premise, or other," the RFT reads. "If a cloud deployment is not achievable at this time the tenderer may outline a roadmap to cloud."

The ABS's current environment is on-premises at the Canberra Data Centre (CDC) in Hume.

Although the ABS has had a tumultuous relationship with IBM over the last 18 months, the agency said as it is a "long time and extensive user" of Lotus Domino, and that IBM Notes is used as its mail and calendaring client, it has no current plans to move away from Notes/Domino for mail.

"Though this is a frequent complication when performing System Integration with non-IBM vendor solutions," the ABS added.

The RFT closes January 31, 2018.


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