The local arm of mining machinery group Joy Global is close to completing a corporate telephony refresh, a move taking place in the context of a wider international push to consolidate the group's ICT resources.
Joy (which also encompasses P&H Minepro) has recently rolled out a 500-handset Avaya solution to its six sites throughout NSW, Queensland and Western Australia. Sydney-based comms integrator NSC was contracted to assist with the implementation.
"We've only been delayed in Rockhampton," Joy's IT shared service manager Frank Raczka told ZDNet Australia via telephone late last week. He said work had been slowed down because in order to lay a new ISDN line into the company's facility required digging through rock. However, he was confident it would be completed by mid-August.
The telephony refresh came about due to the need to replace legacy hardware which didn't even have voicemail functionality, Raczka said.
In addition, the existing hardware came from a number of different vendors. "Supporting them meant that we had to go to different maintenance suppliers, we didn't have one provider we could deal with," he added.
Joy considered replacement hardware from Cisco, Avaya, NEC, Ericsson and Alcatel, with Avaya getting the nod due to its technology being "well-proven" and Joy being happy with the pricing.
"Some of our affiliates overseas had had some dealings with Avaya technology previously," said Raczka. NSC's project management skills also attracted praise.
While Joy selected a system capable of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony, Raczka stressed this was a matter of future-proofing the purchase as Joy's local network wasn't quite ready yet to encompass voice as well as data.
"We've got the possibility that our overseas branches will go down the same path -- we've got a global private network -- and then that opens up the possibility that we can have a global VoIP network," he said.
Hunting down rogue phones
Joy advised fellow CIOs and IT managers implementing similar projects to make sure they had accounted for all existing hardware when planning a new system.
"Watch out for hidden phones under desks and behind boxes or cabinets that you don't realise were being used until you switch over and somebody calls up and says 'I haven't got a phone anymore.'
"You've really got to do your floor plans and your homework on your current phone extension reach, quantities and so on," he said.
Raczka noted that the new digital PABX systems would still require some analogue phone circuits and cards, for example for emergency situations or to cater for some models of Polycom telephone conferencing units or PC modems.
"It's this hidden stuff that is below the radar that comes back and bites you later on," he said.
Cutting out waste
With the telephony migration mostly bedded down, Raczka has now turned his attention to consolidating other ICT resources.
"Globally ... there's a push to use shared services in areas of the business that seem to fit that sort of model, and for instance IT is one of those," he said. "So we're doing that in IT for these two companies, Joy and P&H."
In line with this, although the process hasn't yet kicked off, Raczka is keen to consolidate Joy's e-mail and other servers, as well as printers and related devices like fax machines and scanners. Such a move would tie in well with Joy's recent decision to implement a global multi-protocol label switched (MPLS) network from Telstra.
"Telstra International won our global network ... so we're going on to a new MPLS network," said Raczka.
"That now opens up for us the opportunity to get rid of all these remote servers that require tape backups, and people on site to move tapes on and off and all this."
But Joy isn't moving speedily ahead in all areas, with Raczka signalling a reluctance to become an early adopter of Microsoft's next-generation Vista operating system, which is due to be released at the end of this year.
While other large groups like Central Queensland University and Edith Cowan University have recently told ZDNet Australia they're keen to adopt the operating system, Joy will hang back a while.
"We typically wait for that sort of stuff to be proven in the commercial world before we'll move to it," said Raczka. "We typically wait twelve months to two years before we do that sort of thing."
Raczka said Joy would attempt to leverage its global purchasing power in any Vista adoption.
"Although, you know what Australians are like, they always like to be first cab off the rank, so it doesn't mean that we won't test it and give it a try when it's finally our here," he added.