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Palo Alto Unified School District Case Study

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Palo Alto Unified School District enrolls ShoreTel Unified Communications and cuts operational costs by $100,000

Palo Alto Unified School District

Need for outstanding communication

PAUSD is spread across 19 locations. More than 350 analog phone lines and DID trunks are also sprawled throughout the district to support 2,000 employees. Many of the sites operated on stand-alone, disparate PBX systems and weren’t centralized, integrated, or scalable.

Cost-effective, manageable phone system

With an outdated landline-based phone system, staying connected across the district wasn’t easy. “We have had difficulties in cost-efficiently managing the phone system as the district has grown. Communications need to be much more fluid today, and there’s every reason to believe we can achieve a higher level of collaboration that is affordable, reliable, and simpler,” says Alexey Demyanenko, network manager for Palo Alto Unified School District.

The phone lines and services have been difficult to maintain and support, in part because the district does not have in-house technicians who are specifically assigned to manage phone issues. Rather, the IT department has to call contractors to handle moves/adds/changes (MACs). Unfortunately, these external support calls are costly. The initial plan to reduce its inherent telecom complexities was to consolidate the phone service and eliminate unused lines with a SIP trunk connection to the PSTN.

“In light of these challenges, we put out a request for proposal to potential PSTN providers who support the whole set of telecom services including SIP trunk and who would be able to provide E-Rate and California Teleconnect Fund discounts,” Demyanenko explains.

“We selected ShoreTel as the low bidder and because of its ability to meet all of our requirements. ShoreTel would give us the Voice over IP (VoIP) platform we needed, and also support the SIP trunk connection from other devices for a complete communications approach. We also found that ShoreTel would be easy to manage and to troubleshoot,” he adds.

ShoreTel UC gets a gold star for simplicity

PAUSD selected a ShoreTel UC Solution, comprising ShoreTel Conference Bridge, ShoreTel IP phones and ShoreTel Voice Switches, along with the ShoreTel SIP Trunk support. ShoreTel partner PacketFusion was integral for the early installations, and overall implementation, knowledge transfer, and end-user training.

Making the switch from PBX to VoIP seamless, and transitioning to cost-efficient SIP trunks over PTSN, were priorities for the district. ShoreTel UC was first piloted at headquarters before fully being deployed across the 18 other sites with 1,150 ShoreTel IP phones.

The solution is also virtualized on VMware ESX 5.0 with Windows 2008 operating system. ShoreTel’s distributed architecture allows PAUSD to capitalize on the benefits of virtualization, including significant cost savings and increased system availability. The ability to integrate ShoreTel with existing virtualization environments is essential to simplifying administration, reducing the costs of ownership, and improving business communications across the district.

An Ingate SIParator device connects to the existing network firewall as a session border controller, with ShoreTel providing the SIP trunk support. SIP trunks offer significant benefits, including lower operating costs, faster streaming of UC media, and more service flexibility. Together, Ingate and ShoreTel ensure a fast, secure end-to-end flow between IP packets and the phones or other endpoints, both within the enterprise as well as outside the enterprise network. This scenario adds to PAUSD’s comprehensive UC system security. The PAUSD used Cisco routers as VoIP gateways for legacy analog lines and a DID trunk during the district-wide UC implementation.

“WE HAVE HAD DIFFICULTIES IN COST-EFFICIENTLY MANAGING THE PHONE SYSTEM AS THE
DISTRICT HAS GROWN. COMMUNICATIONS NEED TO BE MUCH MORE FLUID TODAY, AND THERE’S EVERY REASON TO BELIEVE WE CAN ACHIEVE A HIGHER LEVEL OF COLLABORATION THAT IS AFFORDABLE, RELIABLE, AND SIMPLER.”

Alexey Demyanenko, Network Manager
Palo Alto Unified School District

“We installed the SIP trunk to consolidate call routing, to ensure reliability, and reduce the cost of PTSN lines. This gives us the shortest, simplest path to saving money while improving connectivity. The key to a successful SIP trunk deployment is professional services of the initial installation. We worked closely with PacketFusion field engineers
to smoothly and quickly transition from legacy PTSN connections to new SIP trunks. During implementation, we were using SIP trunks directly to the ShoreTel Voice Switches,” says Demyanenko.

The ShoreTel Conference Bridge was deployed across all 19 sites to ensure that teachers and staff can universally collaborate via conferencing. The ShoreTel Conference Bridge combines a thoroughly tested service appliance with integrated audio and web features for advanced on-demand conferencing, one-click scheduling, instant messaging, and call reports.

Learning new ways to save time and money

The Palo Alto Unified School District now has unified IP-based communications. Among the many benefits are impressive cost savings and improved productivity. “End users now have transparent communication throughout the district, and also for communications between parents and teachers. Overall, we have experienced an increase in productivity, an easier management environment, and anticipate significant savings on movement and changes and reductions on our Telco bills,” Demyanenko says.

Specifically, he cites nearly $100,000 in anticipated savings over five years on MACS, since the district is able to perform them internally without the need for expensive external expertise. PAUSD has also seen savings with the cancellation of unused analog lines, and the consolidation of call routing and CDR analysis. The move to SIP trunking will allow the district to save money on the phone bills for both intrastate and long-distance calls, and gain easier troubleshooting of any PTSN issues. Additionally, the SIP trunking has helped increase capacity for inbound and outbound calls.

The future of the district looks bright, too. “We expect this solution to last us up to seven years, and next, we are planning to use ShoreTel Mobility and ShoreTel SoftPhones for mobile devices and videoconferencing. The experience with ShoreTel has been very positive and the implementation very smooth,” concludes Demyanenko.

“OVERALL, WE HAVE EXPERIENCED AN INCREASE IN PRODUCTIVITY, AN EASIER MANAGEMENT ENVIRONMENT, AND ANTICIPATE SIGNIFICANT SAVINGS ON MOVEMENT AND CHANGES AND REDUCTIONS ON OUR TELCO BILLS.”

CHALLENGE:

  • The Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) needed to address outdated landline-based phone systems across 19 sites for greater cost efficiencies, easier management and scalability, and better business communications.

SOLUTION:

  • The district now can underscore the “Unified” in its name, with a Unified Communications (UC) strategy from ShoreTel, which includes a ShoreTel Conference Bridge, ShoreTel IP phones, ShoreTel Voice Switches, and ShoreTel SIP Trunking.

BENEFITS:

  • Centralized IP phone system
  • Scalable, modular architecture
  • Anticipated savings of $100,000 over five years
  • Lower TCO with simpler administration