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Schneider Electric switches to VoIP

Electrical systems specialist Schneider Electric has partnered with comms integrator NSC to move its local offices to an Avaya IP telephony solution.The company's 1600 extensions -- including 128 call centre staff -- will be replaced before September this year, with the first site going live in two weeks' time.

Electrical systems specialist Schneider Electric has partnered with comms integrator NSC to move its local offices to an Avaya IP telephony solution.

The company's 1600 extensions -- including 128 call centre staff -- will be replaced before September this year, with the first site going live in two weeks' time. That site was the company's head office and held 200 staff, Schneider's IT manager Andrew Allen told ZDNet Australia&nbsp.

Allen said the move to a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solution was driven by the need to consolidate seven or eight existing PBX systems. Several of those systems were decades old, and a lack of integration meant there was no way of tracking many calls as well as a generally high level of unreliability in the network.

The new solution "was really seen as a necessary bit of infrastructure to meet requirements of the future," he said. "The return on investment in a purely financial sense was never really looked at."

According to Allen, the biggest challenge his company faced was configuring its local data network to handle the additional voice traffic. He confirmed a traffic prioritisation system was in place.

"Other than that," he said, "it's just the usual kind of project management stuff you encounter when you've got multiple parties involved: getting the communication right, having everyone understand each other, and all the parties delivering on time."

Allen said Schneider rated a number of vendors on various criteria before choosing Avaya. The vendor came out on top of all of those criteria except its contractual terms and conditions, he said.

The IT manager said Avaya had sold the concept of a "virtual company" to Schneider, where multiple PBX systems appeared to operate as one.

"That's really the direction we wanted to take the company, especially in terms of our call centres," he said. "They're distributed call centres, but as far as the customer can see, they're just one call centre."