Presidio, Inc. is a Cisco® Gold Certified Partner with customers and offices located across the United States, meaning collaboration capabilities are vital for the company’s employees. “Collaboration technology for us doesn’t mean you’ll never have to get on a plane again or pick up a phone. Instead it’s the flexibility to spend the time and resources where you really need to be in order to maintain balance and stay sharper and more effective,” says George Chongris, manager of the collaboration infrastructure at Presidio.
An extensive deployment of Cisco collaboration solutions is changing the way that Presidio does business. “For example, I haven’t lived in the same area as my manager for the past two years, but twice a week I spend at least an hour in a face-to-face telepresence meeting with him, even though he is 1000 miles away,” says Chongris.
Through acquisitions, Presidio grew from 1200 employees in 20 offices to more than 2200 employees in 45 offices as of mid-2014. This growth brought the challenges of technology “islands”—different systems in different locations that had little connectivity. At one time during this growth period, Presidio had five Cisco Unified Communications Manager clusters and Cisco Unity® voicemail systems, two Cisco WebEx Connect® domains, four Cisco WebEx® Meeting Center sites, and three Cisco TelePresence® Video Communication Server domains. All of them had different dial plans, user habits, system versions, capabilities, and management styles.
Additionally, rapid changes in technology and user expectations, as well as the need to support continued company growth, prompted the Presidio IT team to plan a major refresh of the collaboration infrastructure.
Presidio now uses a combination of on-premises systems and cloud services to give users multiple tools for collaboration. The company’s collaboration infrastructure currently includes the following Cisco products and design elements:
● Core communications: Cisco Unified Communications Manager (Cisco UCM) for call control and Cisco Unity Connection for voicemail
● Call routing: Fully globalized +E.164 dial plan, local route groups, centralized Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) PSTN trunking, and Cisco TelePresence Video Communication Server (VCS) integrated with Cisco UCM
● Web conferencing: Cisco WebEx Meeting Center cloud service
● Video calling and conferencing: A full range of Cisco TelePresence collaboration room and desk endpoints, as well as the Cisco TelePresence VCS for bridging and the Cisco TelePresence Management Suite for scheduling
● Messaging and Presence: Cisco WebEx Messenger™ cloud service
All Presidio offices will have at least one Cisco TelePresence system and, as of mid-2014, 60 percent of the meeting spaces in the company are video-enabled.
Presidio planned a two-phase deployment of the new collaboration infrastructure. Phase 1 focused on platform consolidation and migrating all users to the central call control, voicemail, IM, and Cisco WebEx Meeting platforms. For this migration, the Presidio team spent two months designing and testing the new platform configurations in a lab environment and running a small pilot project. “Once we reached a good base configuration, we were able to migrate all the systems within six months. A week or two after that, the additional value of the new systems was apparent to everyone,” says Chongris.
As shown in Figure 1, Presidio’s core collaboration infrastructure is deployed across three data centers, located in Maryland, Florida, and Texas. This infrastructure reflects Presidio’s redundancy design for the individual collaboration solutions:
● Call control, fax services, and public switched telephone network (PSTN) access are available in all three data centers.
● Voicemail, contact center, and video services are deployed in two centers.
● Lower-priority services that don’t require redundancy are hosted in one center.
For resiliency, each data center has links into two separate Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) clouds with different last-mile links. “We put as few applications and devices as possible at a branch office so that in the event of a disaster or an outage at the office, users can work from home or use mobile devices to connect to the Presidio network and not miss a beat,” says Chongris. Presidio also takes advantage of selected cloud services for resiliency, for example by using Cisco WebEx Meeting Center and Cisco WebEx Messenger IM services in the cloud.
Presidio IT is assessing the capacity of all LAN, WAN, and Internet links in preparation for installing more Cisco TelePresence systems and promoting their increased use by employees. “With high-definition video calls, a local office could jump from 300 kbps real-time traffic generated by concurrent VoIP calls to 6 Mbps for concurrent telepresence calls,” says Chongris. “This analysis will help us make sure we have enough network capacity to meet the traffic growth but also avoid overbuilding.”
Figure 1. Presidio Collaboration Network Infrastructure
Presidio has gained several benefits from using Cisco collaboration solutions for its operations.
Breaking through organizational boundaries. The Cisco solutions help Presidio unify its employee teams, who previously worked in geographically-defined organizations, into a truly national organization. The collaboration solutions support the diverse needs of all users within the company, including back-office employees (e.g., administrative staff, human resources, accounting, inside sales, executive leadership) and field employees (e.g., solutions architects, delivery engineers, marketing, account managers and other sales personnel).
Better communications with customers. With the Cisco unified messaging capabilities and the Single Number Reach feature, employees don’t miss important calls from customers and colleagues. Almost every meeting scheduled by Presidio employees is conducted on Cisco WebEx or Cisco TelePresence to connect participants in multiple locations. “For our customer meetings, we hold them on TelePresence if the customer has video capability, or we use WebEx-enabled TelePresence to help educate customers about the power and freedom to provide the richest experience you can get short of standing in front of the person,” says Chongris.
Expanded capabilities for business applications. The modularity and integration of Cisco solutions mean they interoperate with Presidio’s business applications and other communications systems. Support for industry standards enables Presidio employees to send messages to users on other IM platforms as well as participate in video calls with video endpoints not enabled by Cisco solutions. Presidio’s IT developers can also link to Cisco Jabber® applications or embed video calling within a webpage for a one-click user experience.
High availability for IT services. The Presidio IT team is located in multiple offices across the United States and uses WebEx and telepresence meetings to help maintain high availability for the company’s network and applications.
Smoother work with Cisco. Using the same tools and infrastructure as Cisco allows Presidio to be a better Cisco partner. For example, Cisco presenters can join Presidio meetings remotely via telepresence, which allows for more effective presentations and discussions with customers.
Service and Support
A two-person team of IT architects focuses on designing and planning Presidio’s unified communications and collaboration infrastructure and carries out projects through work with other IT architects who focus on routing, switching, wireless, and data center technologies. Additionally, a separate IT support team manages day-to-day operations of the collaboration solutions, defines processes, maintains documentation, and provides user training.
The Presidio team expects that Phase 2 will improve the collaboration experience for users and simplify maintenance of the collaboration infrastructure for the IT team. In this phase, Presidio plans to expand the collaboration infrastructure by:
● Implementing WebEx-enabled Cisco TelePresence in a full telepresence redeployment under the Cisco Collaboration Edge Architecture, and moving all collaboration desk and room endpoints to Cisco Unified Communications Manager.
● Standardizing all computers and mobile devices on Cisco Jabber clients within the Cisco Collaboration Edge Architecture
● Adding Cisco TelePresence systems in more conference rooms, replacing videoconferencing multipoint control units (MCUs) with Cisco TelePresence servers, and deploying the Cisco Collaboration Meeting Rooms solution, which will allow employees to hold impromptu video meetings.
● Video-enabling Presidio’s internal service desk to deliver a higher, more interactive level of support for users.
● Supporting single sign-on capabilities, which will allow an employee to access all collaboration tools with just one login.
The collaboration IT team will also measure usage data on the shared meeting areas and conference rooms to identify where additional Cisco TelePresence systems are needed.
For More Information
Learn more about Presidio: http://www.presidio.com/
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