Yaniv and his rump steak

How Can Your IP Phone Choice Reduce Infrastructure & Bandwidth Cost

Last month we had a roadshow in South Africa. My vegetarian friends will have to forgive me… but what a wonderful place! Over dinner while enjoying a really good rump steak and a glass of Pinotage, we met with an IT manager from a large enterprise that was interested in our IP Phone solution.

Yaniv and his rump steak

During the meeting, the IT manager explained his challenges and concerns.

His company recently selected an IP phone vendor for Skype for Business. Unfortunately, it didn’t provide the solution they were expecting and now they need to find a proper solution to their issues. Their call quality was poor, the phones weren’t user-friendly and the architecture design didn’t allow them to use media bypass.

But his first and major concern was cost savings:

Today, they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on their infrastructure and bandwidth for communication between and in branches.

In between bites I introduced the AudioCodes solution and vision which is to not only to provide IP Phones but to offer a full solution. I explained how he can take advantage of our solution to solve his concerns.

Firstly, we are the only vendor in the market today that supports SILK and OPUS in our IP Phones.

SILK, the Skype for business native codec, is a dynamic breathing codec that adjusts to the bandwidth dynamically during the call according to the network capabilities and restrictions. If there is a good network, SILK will use wide band crystal clear high definition quality (even better than G.722). But if someone downloads a large file or a home user’s infrastructure is poor, SILK dynamically will decrease the required bandwidth, to even lower than what G.729 uses, allowing users to have a conversation without any chopped voice or interruptions. (SILK can overcome Packet loss, jitter and delay).

But SILK doesn’t only solve the bandwidth and quality issue; it also saves a lot of expenses on infrastructure as it consumes only 30% to 50% of the required bandwidth.

I mentioned to him that the improved voice quality and savings in bandwidth and infrastructure costs apply even to a greater extent in cases where communications is provided from the cloud by a hosted UC provider.

I noticed the gentleman’s eyes getting wider and a big smile emerging on his face.  I heard him saying that if he could save 40% of the required bandwidth, he could save hundreds of thousands of dollars on the first year and additional 10% on the call traffic every year! And all this, simply due to using AudioCodes phones with SILK!

But that’s not all.  Just imagine, I told him, that call quality complaints will decrease dramatically as well and user satisfaction and productivity will rise. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. We still haven’t discussed the savings that can be had by using AudioCodes IP Phone manager.

The IT manager paused for a second and asked what he should do with the phones that are currently using G.729 and G.711 and the PSTN calls? I need to divert all these calls to the core and transcode them in the mediation server, he continued, since our current SBC doesn’t support SILK. (He meant that all these calls must now go through the HQ Datacenter core, overloading the core network and introducing VoIP challenges such as long delays, packet loss and jitter).

I was happy to respond that since AudioCodes not only offers SILK IP phones but SBCs that support SILK as well, they can be used in the core while the calls will use media bypass. This will save a lot of money, and prevent having frustrated users and a complex and clumsy design.

At AudioCodes, I summed up, our products provide a full solution, using our entire ecosystem encompassing our IP Phones and SBCs, to provide end-to-end SILK capabilities including resiliency, should for whatever reason, Skype for Business become unavailable. But most importantly, these solutions can save your organization a lot of money on the infrastructure.

 

Satisfied, we both turned to enjoy our steaks…..

 

To learn more about AudioCodes IP Phone family, click here:

 

Management System

Amazing Savings with a Managed IP Phone System

Management System

In a recent No Jitter blog entitled Managing IP Phones Goes Way Beyond Provisioning, I pointed out how much more powerful a managed IP Phone system is than simple provisioning and that this power and flexibility can bring considerable cost savings to an IT department. This wasn’t just marketing talk. In this blog, I want to tangibly demonstrate how this savings is achieved and what kind of numbers we are talking about.

To do this, I want to take a real-world example of a large enterprise that has deployed 20,000 IP phones amongst its employees. There are several levels to the cost savings, but it starts with the basic element of a managed IP phone solution saving countless help desk hours by providing IT the ability to remotely detect, correct and configure IP phones rather than the need to speak with the user and figure out the problem. If the average time per help desk call to figure out the problem without the managed system is conservatively 15 minutes, with the managed system, that time is cut down to just several minutes – we’ll go with 3. If the cost of a help desk worker is $50 an hour, then the savings would be reflected in the amount of help desk calls multiplied by the savings in time between 3 and 15 minutes.

Below, we look at a three-year model in which the amount of help desk calls will no doubt decrease over time as the system is used. Again, with a conservative estimate, if in the first year we can expect at least 20% of the 20,000 IP Phone users to have a single help desk call, going down to 10% in year two and 5% in year three, the savings can reach $70,000 over the three-year period. In reality, the amount of help desk calls could be as much as double ($140,000), the savings increasing accordingly.

IP Phone TCO

But that’s only part of the savings story. The IP Phone Manager allows for zero-touch customized configuration for multisite deployments. Such customization without a central management tool would require a pre-staging service from an integrator, estimated to be around $5-$10 per phone. Thus in the case of a 20,000 phone rollout, that could mean an additional $100-200K in savings.

And finally, AudioCodes IP Phones support SILK, the native Skype for Business vocoder. This vocoder delivers the best end-to-end voice quality experience available, further reducing the load on the help desk by eliminating call quality complaints which are possible in VoIP networks. But beyond the user experience and business productivity enhancement, the SILK vocoder consumes as much as 50% less bandwidth as compared to other IP Phones vocoders. This directly translates into the ability to save on remote branch MPLS access capacity and costs. In some cases, where dedicated bandwidth is allocated for voice traffic, this can lead to 50% less bandwidth consumption and MPLS costs.

In sum, the ability to manage IP phones with a system such as the AudioCodes IP Phone Manager, can lead to significant savings for a company.

AudioCodes IP Phone Manager Express is a freely downloadable Windows application that enables you to manage up to 500 AudioCodes IP phones efficiently from a single location.

The AudioCodes One Voice Operation Center IP Phone Manager, can support higher capacities.

Yaniv Christmas tree Germany

How IT Managers Can Better Manage Skype for Business IP Phones

It was a freezing, snowy night, just a few days before Christmas.

I was on one of my road trips in Germany looking at the biggest Christmas tree in the world, while trying to warm my soul with a good, local Gluh Wein. Then my mobile phone disturbed the tranquility of the moment. One of my IT manager customers was calling. I had to answer.

Yaniv Christmas tree Germany

The customer started to describe his day to day challenges and concerns. His enterprise was beginning to migrate from an IPPBX to Skype for Business and Unified communications and his end user satisfaction was poor.  His multi-site roll-out plan took him much more time and consumed more effort than expected. And he was yet to go beyond deploying at Headquarters

where he couldn’t understand what was causing some of the IP Phones to reboot several times a day. He was unable to control the end users’ IP Phones in an efficient way and solve their issues and concerns.

I reminded him about AudioCodes’ IP Phone Manager that he had been considering and I updated him about our free of charge Express Edition. I explained how in our vision, we empower IT with a full life-cycle IP Phone operation management platform and that we view the IP Phone as an IT managed device, essentially turning the IP Phone into an IT Phone.

Feeling warmer by the minute (the Gluh Wein was no doubt having its effect…) I pointed out our multi-tenant IP Phone Manager’s day to day management and maintenance capabilities with a monitoring dashboard showing the phone operation status, active registered IP Phones, non-registered IP Phones and the disconnected devices, allowing IT to proactively detect issues before they are noticed by the end user.  I also described the smart device and user search. He just needed to search on the user name and the IP Phone provided all the necessary information (IP address, subnet, VLAN, software version and more) with just one click.

In that call I convinced my customer to give our IP Phone Manager a try and let the system become the eyes into his network in order to figure out the problems he was facing. And so he did. In just a few hours after he installed the IP Phone manager, he was already able to put his finger on the problem and track the root cause. He immediately saw that when a bulk of users were disconnected it was always in the same network switch and it seemed his POE unit was not functioning well either. He replaced the switch and the issue was resolved.

Several months after installing the IP Phone Manger he wanted to migrate additional branches to Skype for Business. I reminded him that his IP Phone Manager has zero touch installation and provisioning and that he can pre-define his configuration for an automatic zero touch rollout. Once the IP phone is plugged in, it gets the proper configuration automatically.

Together, we invested a half hour in defining his open space area, lobby area and the different company branches with the proper time offset and IP Phone menu language.

A week later he called me and expressed his amazement from the simplicity of the roll out. His ability to proactively detect and solve his end users concerns easily and efficiently was well appreciated in his organization.

And it all started with a phone call while sipping some Gluh Wein……..

Download the AudioCodes IP Phone Manager Express for Windows today and enjoy it free of charge

IP Phone

IP Desk Phones – A Phone is Just a Phone Right?

Being nearly 3 months into my new role at AudioCodes it’s been a steep learning curve given the breadth of products and markets we address.  Before I started I was curious as to why AudioCodes were making such significant investments in the IP phone range, given we were primarily known for more traditional telecom appliance products such as gateways, SBC’s etc.   Would it simply be the case that we have to demonstrate that we can offer bigger screens or better buttons at a more competitive price point?  The answer was actually one that I was not expecting.

IP Phone

From a user’s standpoint you could say a phone is a phone as long as it’s intuitive to use and allows them to make and receive phone calls in various environments (Skype for Business, normal SIP etc).  The call quality expectation is pretty much a given these days (HD voice etc).  Yes there’s lots of cool things they can do such as integration with the desktop (BToE – Better Together over Ethernet) but as long as they allow users to make calls then they could be considered much of a muchness and it comes down to personal preference and what people are used to.  But who has given any thought to the poor old IT department that are tasked with supporting 1000’s of end points that could be scattered across the globe?

With the increased offerings of cloud telephony (e.g. Microsoft’s Skype for Business Cloud PBX offering) the adoption of IP phones is accelerating and with many global businesses and more and more people working from home, this presents significant challenges for those in IT.  And challenges mean expenses. IP phones by their very nature can be somewhat more complex under the hood and to the average user that is asked by the IT department to confirm firmware versions, IP addresses etc., it can be daunting.  So it could be argued that the true value of today’s IP phones is the ability for the IT departments to have control over the entire estate so they can proactively manage a global deployment.  So remotely provisioning, updating firmware versions, changing languages, time zones, signing phones in that have been accidentally signed out (think of a phone sitting on unmanned reception desk), sending messages directly to the phones that the users can see etc.   Total end point control.  If you analyze the potential savings the IT department can make by reducing the help desk case load this can be a far more interesting number than the price difference of one phone vs another.

IP Phones Management

So to answer my own question, now that I’ve had time to explore the AudioCodes offering, yes we have a nice range of IP phones, but in my opinion there is great value in the management tools that are available to complement them.

Come as see us next week at UC Expo if you like a demo that will warm the hearts of the IT department.