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City of Oakland Case Study

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Case Studies

The City of Oakland replaces PBX-based telephone system with IP Unified Communications from ShoreTel at no extra cost

Time for an upgrade

The city had a Meridian PBX-based phone system, with approximately 1,700 analog telephones. The system was past its prime and unreliable. Much of the Cabletron and Cisco network equipment was also nearing end-of-life.

Finding a budget-friendly VoIP phone system

Faced with an aging legacy system, Oakland’s technology team, led by Chief Technology Officer Robert Glaze, determined it was time to replace the phone system and upgrade the network.

The city issued a Request for Information and received responses from more than 25 Voice over IP (VoIP) vendors. A team was assembled to begin the evaluation, and narrowed the choice down to three vendors that met the organization’s top priorities, which included feature robustness, customer service and support, disaster recovery capabilities, and ease of maintenance. Cost effectiveness was also a factor, according to Glaze. “As with most city budgets, ours gets stretched very thin, so our money had to go a long way with this telephone system,” he says.

The three vendors included Alcatel, Cisco, and ShoreTel®. The city then issued its Request for Proposal and each solution was brought in for a demonstration and an actual pilot installation with the existing network. Council members looked very carefully at each pilot test because poor voice quality was a concern.

Alcatel did not operate very well on the existing city system. Cisco requested that the city evaluate an existing small system installed at a local police precinct, and ShoreTel installed a 25-phone pilot requested by the city. ShoreTel did well in this initial pilot, but since the City Council had never heard of ShoreTel, a larger demonstration with 500 IP phones was requested. ShoreTel complied and deployed the larger pilot and kept it running for 30 days. It ran smoothly, and at the end of the pilot test phase, ShoreTel was chosen as the city’s IP UC vendor.

ShoreTel VoIP meets Oakland’s extensive criteria

ShoreTel provided the city with voice switches and IP telephones. Since the initial deployment, several more switches have been installed, and Oakland now has approximately 2,000 IP telephones deployed in eight of the city’s buildings.

A key feature of the ShoreTel IP UC system is its distributed architecture design. This appealed to the city because disaster recovery is such a priority. In addition, ShoreTel’s call control software is distributed to every voice switch, which eliminates any single point of failure. In the highly unlikely event a voice switch fails, the other switches on the network automatically take on the call processing load.

“With our past history of natural disasters, disaster recovery was an important factor in our technology decision,” says Glaze. “The failover of the ShoreTel system is a perfect fit for us.”

Robust productivity features increase efficiency

With the ShoreTel system in place, all employees are now on the same phone and voicemail system, using four-digit dialing to reach co-workers and dialing co-workers by name. Personal Call Manager enables employees to manage all of their communications—voicemail, email, faxes—centrally on their desktop.

The ability of the ShoreTel IP UC system to track phone calls and export and distribute voicemails as WAV files helps continually monitor and improve responsiveness. In addition, city attorneys appreciate the ability to attach these voicemail messages to folders for later reference.

“THE OTHER SYSTEMS WE’VE HAD IN THE PAST WERE NOT SCALABLE. WITH SHORETEL, IT’S EASY WHETHER YOU’RE ADDING A PHONE OR AN ENTIRE SITE. WE ACTUALLY MOVED THE MAYOR OUT OF HIS OFFICE AND BACK IN AGAIN WITHIN A DAY.”

Robert Glaze,
CTO City of Oakland

ShoreTel’s workgroup capability enables the city to dedicate a specific telephone number to a workgroup. Calls to a specific workgroup are routed to the next available agent. Productivity is enhanced, and callers get more consistent and thorough care.

ShoreTel Director, a browser-based management interface, allows the city’s IT staff to gain access to the system from anywhere on the network and to manage the entire system in-house. When a new user is added, an administrator simply clicks “add new” and enters the user’s name; this in turn automatically updates the centralized database and voice switches, creates a new mailbox, and updates the automated attendant dial-by-name and number feature and online directories—all in a matter of seconds.

The ShoreTel IP Unified Communications system is also easily scalable. “The other systems we’ve had in the past were not scalable,” says Glaze. “With ShoreTel, it’s easy whether you’re adding a phone or an entire site. We actually moved the mayor out of his office and back in again within a day.”

City gains ShoreTel’s state-of-the-art UC for the same cost as its old legacy system

The city is saving monthly by simply using IP telephony over its old analog system. Glaze says, “We leased the ShoreTel phone system and the Enterasys network equipment, and the money we save by using an IP UC system over traditional telephone services actually pays for the monthly lease on the Enterasys and ShoreTel equipment. In other words, it costs us nothing extra and we have a much better phone system and network in place.”

“ShoreTel is always there when we need them and the product has lived up to what the company promised,” says Glaze. “ShoreTel also really listens to its customers in terms of enhancements it makes to the system. Our users really like the new ShoreTel system and it’s improved our communications and productivity. We are also now ready with a disaster recovery plan in place because of the distributed nature of the system, and ready to scale and add new sites. ShoreTel has prepared us for the future.”

“OUR USERS REALLY LIKE THE NEW SHORETEL SYSTEM AND IT’S IMPROVED OUR COMMUNICATIONS AND PRODUCTIVITY. WE ARE ALSO NOW READY WITH A DISASTER RECOVERY PLAN IN PLACE BECAUSE OF THE DISTRIBUTED NATURE OF THE SYSTEM, AND READY TO SCALE AND ADD NEW SITES. SHORETEL HAS PREPARED US FOR THE FUTURE.”

CHALLENGE:

  • Oakland’s outdated PBX-based phone system was failing and a lot of its network equipment was nearing end-of-life. It was time to replace both the network and the telephone system.

SOLUTION:

  • ShoreTel provided the IP Unified Communications (UC) system, including voice switches and IP telephones, while network partner Enterasys provided the network infrastructure equipment.

BENEFITS:

  • Disaster recovery capability
  • Easy to scale and manage
  • Saves time and money
  • Increased employee productivity