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Kaukauna Area Public School District Case Study

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Case Studies

Kaukauna Area Public School District saves 25 percent by replacing Cisco VoIP with ShoreTel UC

Kaukauna Area Public School District

Leased system, with no buyout estimate

The Wisconsin school district had a four-year-old Cisco VoIP system with less than a year on the lease. The district couldn’t get a buyout estimate until 60 days prior to the lease expiration, so it decided to research other options.

A VoIP solution that offered seamless network integration

Supporting the school district’s communications requirements were more than 600 telephones, a leased, four-year-old Cisco Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system, and a relatively modern network infrastructure.

“There wasn’t anything wrong with the Cisco network except that it was getting old and we couldn’t wait for the buyout estimate. It might have made sense to buy the gear depending on the price, but if not, 60 days wouldn’t have been enough time to research and fund an alternative,” says Bob Summers, district IT manager at Kaukauna Area School District.

Exploring VoIP vendors besides Cisco

Kaukauna has had VoIP, along with independent PBX systems from various vendors, in each of the school district’s seven buildings. Summers was convinced that VoIP offered distinct advantages and greater simplicity over traditional communications systems, and planned to stick with the advanced technologies in his search for a new solution. For its data network upgrade, Kaukauna chose a solution from Hewlett-Packard. The network infrastructure was being upgraded to run 12-strand fiber-optics to connect schools and town buildings.

“Most calls are made between the schools, but VoIP over private fiber makes the cost of voice calls very low,” says Summers. After extensive evaluation of potential telecommunications vendors, Kaukauna selected ShoreTel to provide the district’s VoIP refresh. “We needed a partner solution that would guarantee seamless interoperability with all the switching gear and network operations. After looking at possibilities from Cisco, Mitel, Avaya, and ShoreTel, we knew the answer. We spoke to other ShoreTel customers, as well as our reseller, and quickly gained a confidence that ShoreTel would be the right solution for us,” explains Summers.

District graduates to ShoreTel Unified Communications

Kaukauna Area School District deployed a ShoreTel UC solution that includes ShoreTel Communicator with Professional Access and hundreds of ShoreTel IP telephones, including conference bridges, and supported by ShoreTel Voice Switches. The ShoreTel UC system provides expanded VoIP features to enable the school district greater flexibility for handling call traffic, emergency response, and office tools integrations.

To ensure 99.999 percent availability of the district’s mission-critical VoIP-related applications ShoreTel relies on fully distributed IP architecture with N+1 redundancy and no single point of failure. Its open-standards APIs provide straightforward integration with custom-built and education-related enterprise applications, while ShoreTel Voice Switches reinforce reliability across the network for ShoreTel IP phones, softphones, and any SIP devices. The result is a highly available and easily scalable platform for unifying communications.

ShoreTel Communicator with Professional Access brilliantly simplifies how the district is able to collaborate, creating a very immersive communications experience. Communicator delivers productivity tools to the desktop to unify calls, voicemail, email, screen pop features, and chat session, and fully integrates with existing applications. ShoreTel enables voicemail to be sent as audio files to email accounts, and written replies to be sent via Outlook integration back to a caller’s email account.

“WE NEEDED A PARTNER SOLUTION THAT WOULD GUARANTEE SEAMLESS INTEROPERABILITY WITH ALL THE SWITCHING GEAR AND NETWORK OPERATIONS. AFTER LOOKING AT POSSIBILITIES FROM CISCO, MITEL, AVAYA, AND SHORETEL, WE KNEW THE ANSWER.”

Bob Summers, District IT Manager
Kaukauna Area School District

ShoreTel Communicator with Professional Access also creates a softphone on the desktop so that users can easily interact with the screen’s display panel and use a headset to instantly engage the calls. For the school district’s operators and executive assistants, ShoreTel Communicator with Operator Access provides instant visibility about incoming calls and any previous call history, to expedite call management. On inclement-weather days, staff can forward calls from office extensions to other devices such as mobile telephones for transparent call handling.

ShoreTel’s collaboration technology continues with improved emergency response capabilities tied into the VoIP platform. The ShoreTel Emergency Notification application enables Kaukauna to immediately connect 911 calls to local police, and to designate that specific school officials be notified whenever and from wherever a 911 call is placed on the district’s property. Rapid-fire communication helps Kaukauna schools mobilize internal resources and coordinate with external first responders appropriately and effectively. Prior to Emergency Notification, 911 calls went only to the police dispatch, leaving school administrators often unaware of campus problems until the ambulance or emergency vehicle arrived.

“One of the features of ShoreTel’s Emergency Notification is Code Blue, an alert system that taps into the district’s policies for handling less-critical events to ensure that the correct sequence of actions is taken in response. So if a teacher sets off a Code Blue, it can call for classroom support to deal with behavior problems or special help for individual students who might have personal problems,” explains Summers.

ShoreTel UC provides more for the money

Kaukauna leased all of its ShoreTel phones and network gear for five years. Including support and licensing, the entire ShoreTel lease cost $22,000 less per year than the legacy Cisco system lease. The ShoreTel solution also includes many hundreds of licenses, which were easy to install, change, and manage with a wizard-based interface that integrates impeccably into the ShoreTel system.

“With ShoreTel, we’ve been able to cut 25 percent in our annual costs, and we have an option to buy the gear outright for one dollar after the fifth year. It’s a win-win for the school district—we gained more productivity features, transparency in leasing, and a highly available and scalable VoIP solution that we can be confident will take us where we need to go,” Summers concludes.

“WITH SHORETEL, WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO CUT 25 PERCENT IN OUR ANNUAL COSTS, AND WE HAVE AN OPTION TO BUY THE GEAR OUTRIGHT FOR ONE DOLLAR AFTER THE FIFTH YEAR. IT’S A WIN-WIN FOR THE SCHOOL DISTRICT.”

CHALLENGE:

  • The public school district in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, needed to update its VoIP service at the same time as refreshing network infrastructure, while ensuring compatibility with all switching gear and improving emergency 911 procedures.

SOLUTION:

  • The ShoreTel Unified Communications (UC) solution included 600+ ShoreTel IP Phones, ShoreTel Voice Switches, ShoreTel Communicator with Professional Access, and ShoreTel Emergency Notification application.

BENEFITS:

  • Cost savings of 25.5 percent or $22,000 annually
  • Simplified collaboration
  • Immersive communications
  • Expedited call handling