Voip Recommendation

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There is an actual interview in this project, but names of the company and the engineer and associated products and aquisitions were changed for legal protection purposes.


  • 1. An Analysis of Voice Systems Infrastructure forCorporation A Product SupportWithRecommended VOIP SolutionsTerm ProjectTM 590 VOIP Keller Graduate School of ManagementDeVry University Chris McCoyKeller Graduate School of ManagementDeVry University Professor Carnes August 14, 2007

2. Introduction Executive Summary Corporation A Corporation A is an fictional Information Lifecycle Management SolutionsProvider. This means that the company sells and supports hardware and software capableof creating, managing and storing information from its inception as data to its grave asarchived information. The company began its business as a Storage HardwareManufacturer, and continues to enjoy great success in this industry. However, in recentyears, Corporation A has recognized the value of integrating software and hardwaresolutions to better manage the information of businesses throughout the world. Within itslarge catalog of product and solution offerings, Corporation A has a number of softwareproducts which require customer technical support via toll free telephone numbers. Thisproject will focus on three specific call centers located in Toronto Canada, RockvilleMaryland, and Nashua New Hampshire. Each site supports a different product or set of products. Nashua, New Hampshiresupports a product called Email-Archive-Xstation, which is an e-mail archivingsolution. Burlington Ontario, Canada supports a data backup product called Networker.Rockville, Maryland supports a storage archive product called Disk Manager X Stationand a content management Product known as Application Manager Xstation. All threesites were former locations for Corporation B Systems, which Corporation A acquired in2003. The Toronto site is where the upper management of the product supportorganization is located. There is a business dependency between the three sites foreffective management of the overall operation of product support for these products.2 3. Problem Statement The current customer SLAs for tech support contracts require a 24/7 phonepresence for each of the 3 centers. The current system in place consists of separate AvayaDefinity PBX systems in each of the 3 sites, utilizing a traditional PBX over PSTNsolution. Five digit dialing is in place, due to the addition of Avaya CLAN and MEDPROCards, but the DID ranges remain separate, and this creates confusion when dialingbetween sites as each sites. A second issue is that the toll charges for Canada and the USare growing with the customer base, due to the existence of separate 800 numbers foreach site and management would like to explore a more cost effective solution totelephone support and interoffice communication between these sites.A third problem exists with regard to personal safety and security. In order to meet the24/7 contract support requirement, some staff members work in rotating shifts around theclock and on weekends for their customers. This presents a physical security issue withregards to safety in that there are only a few reps on call during the late night andweekend shifts. An empty office building means less security for the tech supportemployees, as they are the only department in the building working after regular businesshours. This presents an issue of personal safety and security for those working therotating shifts. When considering a solution to these issues, it is important to note that theEngineering, HR, QA, Product Management, Sales, and other departments may beimpacted by any downtime tied to a change in the existing infrastructure. The salesdepartment can not afford to be without a phone system for any extended period of time,and a learning curve required to work with different phones might cause missed revenue 3 4. deadlines. Analysis For several years, CORPORATION A has operated its three major productsupport call centers using traditional PBX systems with 800 numbers located in thelocales nearest each center. When a call needed escalation or transfer to a differentproduct support group, a long distance charge was incurred by the local call center. Thiscostly solution was improved by the added capability of a 5-digit inter-office dialingsolution between the three sites using an AVAYA CLAN and MEDPRO Card in eachPBX to provide this connectivity across the WAN using H.323 protocol for signaling.The CLAN card handles the call signaling and the Media Pro (Medpro) card handles thevoice channel traffic. The existing WAN infrastructure is an MPLS that serves not onlythese three sites, but the entire CORPORATION A global infrastructure for its 32,000worldwide employees. The diagram shown below is intended to show the MPLSconnectivity between the three tech support call center sites:4 5. Figure 1.1 Existing WAN InfrastructureThis is an abbreviated drawing to show the relationship of Burlington, Rockville andNashua in terms of their existing WAN MPLS connection. The full MPLS cloud forCORPORATION A serves hundreds of locations spread throughout the globe. Thisinfrastructure provides great scalability for a worldwide VOIP implementation in thescenario where CORPORATION A goes to a 100% VOIP telephone system for the entirecompany.5 6. Figure 1.2: Existing Telephone System Infrastructure for 3 CORPORATION A Product Support Locations. Note, each location is using a different phone type, but all are using Avaya Definity Series PBX.The three sites leverage 5-digit interoffice dialing from office to office using traditionalAvaya (non-IP) telephones. In a limited capacity the company is leveraging IP to reducetoll charges incurred by dialing between sites. However, a VOIP solution will leverageeven greater cost-benefit by streamlining product support operations in these locations.Current call transferring can be done from PBX to PBX using the IP network via5-digit dialing, but with a separate DID range for each call center, very often the callcenter administrators must look up the sites 5-digit dialing range and number for the siteand support product group (DID) before transferring the calls. This can increase waittimes for customers requiring urgent assistance. This technology can be more effectively6 7. leveraged through the implementation of IP telephones for the support department.Within the current system, if a tech support rep wants to work remotely from home, thePBX must be programmed to forward the tech support number to his/her cell phone. Thisforwarding must be programmed by a telecom engineer on the PBX so that support canbe completed from remote/home offices. A VoIP based solution would alleviate the needto constantly administer call forwarding for each users cell phone as is the case with thecurrent system. To address this issue, the CLAN and MEDPRO cards may provide agood basis for leveraging this capability and streamlining a remote support model forafter hours support. In order to fully understand the existing voice infrastructure for thethree tech support sites, I was fortunate to secure an interview (both over the telephone,and also via e-mail for additional questions) with Earl H., a senior voicetelecommunications engineer at CORPORATION A. Earl provided some valuablefeedback in terms of the existing environment and options that could be leveraged usingthe existing equipment. Notes from the interview begin with the next section.The SIP ProtocolThe Session Initiation Protocol has become a popular protocol for signaling in VoIPsystems. One of the reasons for its success is the tight alignment with IP enabledapplications. According to SIP Demystified, one example of the benefit of SIPimplementation can be described in the following manner:Assume that the public address for Company As support department isSIP:support@company.com. Because the company has to give support around the clock,several people are always at workThe redirect server at company.com is able to returndifferent addresses depending on the time of day so that if it receives a call for7 8. SIP:support@company.com at noon, it will return (the address of the technician on dutyat noon) (Camarillo, 2002). SIP will be considered for this initiative as a protocol toprovide scalability to the tech support environment. An article in BusinessCommunications review described the important benefit of SIP in VoIP architecture:A SIP-enabled contact center can integrate with an existing PBX infrastructure and applications, yet can also introduce new capabilities such as support of SIP trunks and phone sets. You can take your migration a step farther by maximizing the full range of multimedia features supported by SIP inside an intelligent application, to deliver advanced capabilities, including multi-modal communications, to the contact center. The SIP-enabled contact center is unique because it simultaneously allows the retention of existing investments in infrastructure and provides a roadmap to an innovative feature set for the future (Murashige 2007). Interview with Senior Telecommunications Engineer at CORPORATION A Mr. Earl H., Senior Telecom Engineer with CORPORATION A, based inPleasanton, California was kind enough to agree to an interview to highlight thecapabilities of the PBX systems in place for Rockville, Burlington, and Nashua. Wediscussed the current capabilities of each system and the ability for these systems tosupport any VOIP capability. In the course of our discussion, I learned that these systemswere capable of supporting the H.323 protocol on the existing PBX systems with theinstalled CLAN and MEDPRO cards, and VOIP from PBX to PBX. We discussed thepotential of this equipment to also support the SIP protocol, but additional equipmentpurchases and upgrades on a higher budget level would be required to do an SIPimplementation, and this initiative would most likely take a budgetary back seat to otheron going integration efforts for several CORPORATION A acquired companies. At thetime of this interview, the company had no current plans to do a complete voice system 8 9. replacement. However, Earl recommended looking into SIP due to the potential businessvalue it might add in its scalability and close alignment with the OSI 7 layer model. Onthe West Coast where Earl is based, the Pleasanton, California office had used Avaya IPtelephones with some of its support reps in a limited capacity, and Earl recommendedthat these be implemented as the desktop telephone equipment for VoIP, particularly ifthe solution involved retaining the existing Avaya PBX. We discussed the requirementfor Power over Ethernet to provide power to the IP telephones. Because none of the threesites had any PoE (power over Ethernet) capability in the existing data network switchingequipment, we agreed that the phones would need to utilize external Avaya powersupplies containing the onboard PoE capability (The alternative would be a moreexpensive replacement of modular Ethernet blades in the core switches). From ourinterview, I learned of three requirements to implement a VOIP solution that wouldleverage the existing PBX infrastructure at a significantly lesser cost to CORPORATIONA than a full VOIP implementation for the entire site at each location. The existingtechnology responsible for the H.323 capability consists of 2 cards currently installed ineach of the three PBXs. First, a CLAN (This card is responsible for H.323 call signalingincluding setup and teardown of the calls, and remote system administration.) and asecond card, called a Media Processor Card or Medpro card handles the actual voicechannel traffic of the calls. To implement VoIP telephones on the existing network,additional licenses must be purchased from Avaya for the number of users the VoIPsystem will support. In addition to our discussion of the possibilities for PBX to PBXVoIP implementation, and VoIP telephone implementation at the desktop, we alsodiscussed the possibilities for a remote solution to allow techs to work from home while9 10. utilizing a VoIP telephone. We arrived at a workable solution consisting of a newermodel Avaya IP Telephone that is capable of providing a VPN connection over the homebroadband internet connection. This component is critical to implementation because theexisting remote VPN model is two-part, consisting of the Cisco VPN software client andthe RSA SecurID fob, which are required to be used in tandem for authentication. I alsoasked about QoS for the phones. Because CORPORATION A runs an MPLS WAN, andMPLS technology is well suited for QoS for VoIP, this capability would be leveraged inthe implementation. Earl and I also discussed 800/Toll-Free numbers. Currently there are at least threeseparate numbers for Tech Support at CORPORATION A. One serves the Canadian callcenter in Burlington Ontario Canada. Another serves Rockville Maryland, and yetanother is listed as All calls outside the US and Canada. My hope had been toconsolidate the global 800 enterprise into a single number that would leverage the powerof VoIP to do call routing globally and cut monthly toll-free charges. However, I learnedthat this is not entirely possible, not only for technical reasons, but also a business barrierI had not considered: spoken language. The US and Canada share English as a commonspoken language. They also share membership in the North American Numbering Plan.(NANP, 2007) Therefore, a consolidation of the Canadian and US toll free numbers intoa single number that can be centrally routed to VoIP telephones is worthy ofconsideration for an implementation to reduce monthly costs. However, removing theInternational toll free number is not recommended. I learned that there are separate callcenters in foreign countries where CORPORATION As employees can more effectivelycommunicate with tech support customers speaking their native language. From a 10 11. business view, this is more productive and less time consuming to provide such overseasservices to customers in similar language geographies. Earl recommended a qualityimprovement measure in the network setup for VoIP: Implementing the IEEE 802.1q andIEEE 802.1p protocols in the vlan in which VoIP will be located. Though this would be adifficult decision, weighing cost versus scalability, Earls final recommendation was tostrongly consider an SIP based solution to accommodate future growth of the company aswell as greater application flexibility and scalability with the VoIP solution (Helsley,2007). Analysis of possible solutions prior to final recommendation: An article in InfoWorld makes a valid point regarding the trend in VoIP integration: Most agree that a major transition to VoIP in the enterprise is inevitable, but in most companies it will probably be a gradual process of greenfield branch office rollouts, deploying IP where it brings the most benefit, replacing obsolete legacy equipment, and gradually upgrading the data network infrastructure. (Erlanger, 2004). For the Tech Support VoIP implementation, three potential solutions have been identifiedfor considera...