A ringing solution

Like a number of system integrators, GenX Solutions had been thinking for some time of offering voice over IP systems to its small and mid-sized customers.But the Toronto company felt the hardware offered was too expensive for its clients.
However, the combination of low-cost gear coming on the market and a new partnership with a telco allowed it to swiftly sell its first VoIP system to a long-time client.
Earlier this year the customer, ABM Research Ltd., decided it had to move to a new office. A market research company with offices in Toronto, Miami and Buenos Aires and 20 employees, many of which were often on the road, it had an aging PBX-based system that needed to be retired.
“We had contemplated changing our phone system for some time,” said Tim Costar, ABM’s executive vice-president. “It was no longer supported by the manufacturer and servicing it was expensive. It didn’t have fairly standard features, nor could it interconnect with our other offices.”
That meant calling staff outside the office racked up long-distance charges.
With GenX looking after moving ABM’s IT infrastructure of desktops and servers, both companies thought it would also be a good time to move new phone technology.
The time was right for another reason. In March, Bell Canada began recruiting solution providers to resell its products and services. GenX became one of its gold partner.
Among the products it showed off that spring was Nortel’s Networks’ BCM 50 IP telephony server for small businesses.
It offers a range of features including call centre, Internet access, and unified messaging.

Demo arranged
GenX sales manager Martin Warren suggested the Nortel system and put together an estimate. When Costar asked for a demonstration, Warren was able to arrange one at Bell’s Toronto Resource Centre where customers can get a sense of VoIP’s potential.
The solution assembled includes two Nortel i2004 desktop phones for receptionists in Toronto and Miami, 18 i2002 phones for staffers and a conference phone.
A number of soft licences were also purchased so ABM staff who travel can take advantage of telephony features such as forwarding their desktop phone system to their laptops.
A 3Com power-over-Ethernet switch was added to avoid having to install AC adapters for every handset.
The price for the phone system was $26,000.
“IP was not only more convenient and a better solution,” said Warren, it was also cheaper than anything with a standard telephone solution.”
Price, however, wasn’t a determining factor to Costar. “We’ve got a global client base. Telecom is mission critical.”
Taking advantage of its membership in Ingram Micro’s VentureTech Network, GenX was able to offer the assurance that a VTN-authorized partner would oversee installation at ABM’s Miami office, as well as support across North America.
The Toronto office move took place in October over a weekend, with the phone installation going relatively smoothly. A conflict with a static IP address assigned to a phone and computer was soon fixed. With the help of Bell, Costar said, a line echo problem was fixed.
The only unusual thing, according to Warren, was that the building contractor kept trying to install RJ-45 phone jacks, which aren’t necessary for IP phones.
Now the Miami office “will be an extension away as opposed to a long distance call,” said Costar.
Staff members can be on the road but have office calls diverted to their laptops.
“We probably have not fully extended the functionality,” he said, “but we have it there, and that’s what’s critical to us.”
As for GenX, it discovered that it moved into IP telephony at the right time.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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