I am beginning to think that I went to college in the dark ages. Although it doesn’t seem *that* long ago, I graduated before email, cell phones, PCs, the Internet, and Google. I know what you’re thinking. “How could anyone get anything done without the “essentials” of life?” Well, we had these things called books and we did research in these places called libraries. We also walked to school 20 miles each day (uphill both ways) and had to fight off saber toothed tigers.
Seriously, it was a very different world back then and I am not afraid to admit it. Those differences really hit home on a recent visit to a major university on the east coast. For privacy concerns I will refer to them as Wossamotta U or WU. WU is in the process of redefining their communications platform and they allowed Arrow SI to bid on that opportunity.
What struck me most of all was how far WU is thinking beyond basic dial tone. While the desktop telephone still has an important place in the WU environment, for them it was all about unified communications and integration with cloud services. Even more exciting was that this new system was not solely for the professors and staff of WU. They wanted a unified experience that could be extended to the students of WU. WU expected that their “telephone” system became the means by which ideas and information were shared no matter what your role was at the university.
WU choose Google applications as their primary user experience. Google applications give WU a broad platform to communicate, schedule tasks and activities, collaborate, and share. Of extreme importance was that these applications were available across a variety of endpoints. WU did not want to tie anyone to a particular device or interface type.
However, WU is fully aware of the power and flexibility afforded to them by combining the richness of Google applications with the reliability and openness of Avaya telephony. Like many customer who are looking at cloud-based communications, WU realizes that there is significant value in their existing PBX infrastructure. They weren’t tied to looking at a single vendor and understood that you get the best results by bringing together the best components from the best companies.
Arrow SI to the Rescue
This is where Arrow SI comes in. Our proposal took their existing Avaya communications system, reinforced it with disaster recovery components, and then extended it into an enterprise cloud platform with Session Manager and SIP. Session Manager, and its ability to connect disparate entities together in a cohesive manner, was the key to making all the moving parts move as one. SIP, of course, is the glue that allows for device independence. SIP doesn’t care if the user is on a Windows PC, a Mac, an iPhone, an Android smart phone, or the latest and greatest tablature device. SIP allows them to have a platform that works with whatever is thrown at them today as well as anything dreamed up in Silicon Valley tomorrow.
To augment the openness of SIP, we explained how Sequenced Applications will allow WU to create new and exciting information flows for their users. For example, a professor’s Google Calendar could be queried on an incoming call to determine how that call should be handled. If the professor’s calendar marked him or her as in class, the call could go straight to voicemail or routed to a TA. The caller could also be prompted to schedule a callback in the professor’s calendar. Sequenced applications are unique to Avaya Aura and offer and endless series of possibilities not available on other SIP-based platforms.
Arrow SI worked with a team of partners to bring the best technology to WU. Central to that partnership is Esna and their suite of software components that allow for a seamless integration between the Avaya voice world and the Google cloud. With Esna Google integration, the line between the PBX and the cloud are so blurred as to be practically invisible.
Picture an environment that allows a student to click-to-call a phone number in a Gmail message from a fellow student or professor. Imagine being able to schedule a Radvision video conference through a Google Calendar invitation. Imagine also that those video participants are not restricted to WU, but can be anyone in the world. Consider the importance of managing limited resources such as conference bridge MCU ports and setting priorities over who gets what at what times. Envision a university that is open to all forms of communications be it voice, video, or chat. We at Arrow SI did just that and designed a system that was efficient, cost effective, open, and gave WU the user experience they needed to compete in a world so different from the one that existed in my college years.
Truly, the dark ages of communications have passed and the age of enlightenment is upon us. It almost makes me want to go back to school. Almost.
About the Author
Director of Vertical IndustriesFollow on Twitter More Content by Andrew Prokop
Andrew Prokop has been heavily involved with SIP and VoIP technologies since the late 1990’s. He holds four United States patents in SIP and was on the team that developed Nortel’s carrier-grade SIP soft switch and SIP-based contact center. His software runs in products from Avaya and Genband. Andrew joined Arrow SI three years ago and through customer engagements, users groups, tradeshows, and webinars has been an evangelist for SIP as a transformational technology for enterprises and their customers. Andrew understands the needs of the enterprise and has the background and skills necessary to assist companies as they drive towards a world of dynamic and immersive communications.