iSoft preaches best-of-breed for UC

No new handsets purchased as softphones are used instead

Health industry software company iSoft has taken a best-of-breed approach to unified communications and videoconferencing resulting in an integrated system that has reduced costs and increased productivity.

iSoft uses Cisco CallManager IP-PABXs, Tandberg videoconferencing equipments, Microsoft's OCS 2007 and Verizon Business for IP network services. Consulting and integration work was done with iVision.

iSoft CIO Martin Wilkinson said despite there being many UC vendors claiming to offer an “all-in-one” box, the company went with best-of-breed for a reason.

“Tandberg is still the best videoconferencing system on the planet as the camera quality and speed is very good,” Wilkinson said. “CallManager is good and has phenomenal presence capability, and the integration with Microsoft OCS was a no-brainer as we are Microsoft development shop.”

OCS is integrated with CallManager's presence feature which is also integrated with Tandberg videoconferencing systems.

“We didn't do any bespoke coding, but we did do a lot of configuration and required a lot of consulting,” Wilkinson said.

With 4500 staff all around the world, iSoft now has integrated voice and video communications capabilities.

To enable unified communications the company also deployed a new global network and 26 end-points around the world are UC-enabled.

Wilkinson said the global network doesn't have QoS and videoconferencing “works fine”.

“The only time we have had a problem with it is where the is QoS applied internally,” he said. “For UC, data compression across the WAN is important.”

“Softphones have eliminated the need for handsets and we don't buy phones anymore. Staff use USB or Bluetooth headsets and it works great. UC has not required new PCs and we have softphones on old PCs and they work fine.”

iSoft has recently implemented a content server to record videoconference sessions and now plans to deliver training via streaming media.

“People can dial into a multi-party meeting for a conference bridge,” Wilkinson said. “We also have ISDN gateways and traversal technology for Internet videoconferencing.”

iSoft's UC journey began four years ago and since then the company has seen a “tumbling” in telephone costs and its customers and partners can call into iSoft's telephony network using a local number.

Large LCD screens can replace whiteboards at meetings as audio-visual functionality is integrated into the UC mix.

iVision managing director Graham Williams said UC is more than just a product, it's about providing essential services and to deliver a solution which is supported through its entire lifecycle.

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Tags unified communicationsciscovideoconferencingocstandbergiVisionAViSOFT

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