Samsung delivers Microsoft Unified Communications to Luther College
Luther College is a private senior school in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs which prides itself on providing high quality education to more than 1000 students. The college has been successfully educating young men and women since 1964. But like many clever schools, these days Luther College places great emphasis on connectivity and communications. Good reasons why, when the administration decided to build an upgraded Middle School, a new ‘smart’ telephony system was central to requirements. Christopher Topp, Luther College’s Director of IT, project managed the migration from an existing analogue system to a Samsung OfficeServ 7400 system supporting Microsoft Office Communications Server and Exchange 2007 software. And the results are top of the class!
“We enjoy a long history with Samsung and also have a strong relationship with Microsoft and were an early adopter of Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft Office Communicator. So any new PBX had to integrate with and support the Microsoft software, moving the college well and truly into the Microsoft world.” Christopher Topp, IT Manager, Luther College.
Client: Luther College
Location: Croydon Hills, Melbourne
Staff: 150 staff
Samsung: OfficeServ 7400
products: 4 x 16 SLT modules
3 x Digital Modules
1 x BRI interface (for GSM gateway connection)
2 x MGI 16 IP Gateways
SVMi20E Unified Messaging Solution with Unlimited Email Gateway licences
Microsoft Communic.gration Licences
Project date: January 2009
Luther College need a telephony system that provided VoIP and digital capability to integrate with and leverage Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft Office Communicator software. A large, bustling campus with 150 mobile staff,
the college required connectivity and presence management that would take it into the future.
Luther College is a long term Samsung customer. Samsung initially installed the Samsung DCS 200, then migrated the college to the Samsung OfficeServ 500. The client decided to upgrade to the OfficeServ 7400 so that they could add IP handsets and
still maintain the large number of analog phones and existing digital phones with the customised features staff had grown to rely on. By linking the Samsung OfficeServ 7400 to Microsoft’s Office Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft Office Communicator, Luther College now has a system which is proving tangible time and productivity gains all around the campus.
- Improved school efficiency
- Greater control and flexibility for staff
- Vastly improved communications capability around a physically large and hub-based location
- Seamless integration with Samsung hardware and Microsoft software via the Samsung Microsoft Compatible Remote Call Gateway Product – a partnership which is delivering time and effort savings
- Microsoft Office Communications Server and Exchange 2007 offers vastly simplified communications and presence management across a large site with many mobile staff
- Easy access to local Samsung engineers, trainers and support staff
- Centralised infrastructure reduces costs to Luther College
Guaranteed future proofing from the Samsung OfficeServ platform.
Improved Communications for Staff
As the education sector evolves along more standard ‘business’ lines, the communications challenges it faces evolve as well. Equipping educational facilities so that they can achieve improved accessibility both within and outside a campus site, aligning
technological resources with institutional goals and community requirements, and maximising the time of busy, highly mobile staff are all key.
Director of IT at Melbourne’s Luther College, Christopher Topp, had all these factors in mind when he went searching for a new telephone communications system.
“Our brief was pretty simple,” he explains. “We needed a more effective way to communicate - teacher to teacher, admin to admin and parents to school – that got us not only up to date, but took us into the future.”
“We also have a strong relationship with Microsoft and were an early adopter of Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft Office Communicator – so any new PBX had to integrate with and support the Microsoft software, moving the college well and truly into the Microsoft world.”
Christopher says that an enormous amount of time was being wasted in accessing messages through their existing analogue system and in tracking people around the school. He needed a unified communication system that would provide not only real communication benefits but presence management capability.
Christopher contacted Matt Jones, Samsung Communications Centre Melbourne, who recommended an OfficeServ 7400 – Samsung’s premier business communications system. The OfficeServ 7400 simultaneously supports traditional voice communication, VoIP, IP-based data communications and has provision for wireless connectivity.
By upgrading their existing Samsung system to the Samsung OfficeServ 7400, Luther College was in a position to take advantage of current and future VoIP technologies. And, with three generations of handsets, all of which will work on the OfficeServ 7400, they avoided the unnecessary cost of having to replace every single handset in the college.
The Samsung Solution
“The Samsung Microsoft Compatible Remote Call Control Gateway Product was used as an intermediary between the OfficeServ 7400 and the Microsoft software and, I’m glad to say, it has well and truly delivered,” he adds. “Our goal was to provide staff with communications features such as instant messaging (IM) and presence information, and to offer these features from both workstations and remote internet clients. Through presence, staff can easily identify colleagues who are available for immediate contact, along with the best or preferred way. They can also use IM for quick communication without having to pick up a telephone or wait for an email response.”
The OfficeServ 7400 provided each person with their own telephone extension, whether it was an IP based softphone, Deskphone, Digital Phone or Analogue Phone, or even IP based wireless phones. The status of the extension, (busy, ringing, Forward status, etc) is passed by the Call Control gateway to the Microsoft Communications server and displayed on the users’ desktop in the OS Communicator client application.
Not only was the solution very technically sound, Christopher says that the Samsung engineers were particularly flexible around the installation. “While we may appear to be a nine-to-five operation, we have availability expectations that far exceed those of normal businesses,” he says. “We are effectively a 24/7 operation which means a certain amount of complexities for a planned maintenance cycle. Likewise, the Samsung training was excellent – the engineers were more than happy to give us as much product knowledge as we were comfortable with.”
The results for Luther College
While Luther College is at the beginning of their journey, staff are already benefiting from a number of productivity gains. The Samsung/Microsoft partnership delivers powerful new communications features, helping faculty, administrative and maintenance staff to work together more efficiently.
“Teachers, for example, tend to work in hub areas and staffrooms. Now each teacher has their own Voicemail, Extension Number and Direct Indial capacity. The benefits of these features alone are saving us all time and effort in chasing people around the school – they are immediately and directly contactable,” says Christopher. “And the IM feature of the Microsoft software means it is quicker and easier to resolve questions and issues that occur throughout the day. It’s especially helpful when you consider that we have 150 staff regularly moving between multiple buildings across a 15 acre campus.”
Not only is Luther College immediately seeing extra functionality afforded by assured contactability, Samsung’s OfficeServ 7400 will provide a very long term solution as well. “Continuity of the existing hardware investment means we won’t have to replace the entire system every three years for integration to new technologies,” says Christopher.
“From a functionality perspective, ease of communication between our staff and between us and the outside world has been a big bonus. The OfficeServ 7400 combined with the Microsoft product means we have communications and presence management capability we’ve never had before.”
Christopher Topp describes the Samsung solution as “rock solid”. He cites Samsung hardware, their local presence (“we never felt alone”) and their approach as reasons why he would be happy to work with Samsung when the existing system requires upgrades or extra functionality.
“They are a fast moving dynamic company that is certainly staying relevant with their offerings. They have provided the integration we need with latest available technologies and, there is no doubt in my mind, they will have a comprehensive offering upon which we can expand in the future.”