Headquartered in Milton Keynes and catering to over 250,000 students with centres in 13 regions around the United Kingdom and in most European countries, The Open University (OU) is considered to be Europe's largest university by student number.
With 5,000+ office-based academic and administrative staff spread around the country, The OU decided to look at alternatives to its aging PABX telephone system, which was up for renewal at the end of 2012. In 2009, The OU began testing and planning a number of products before deciding to deploy Microsoft Lync 2010 in 2011.
Adrian Wells, Assistant Director of IT Infrastructure at The Open University commented, “The OU wanted to move towards an IP-based system for telephony rather than an upgraded version of what was already in place. However, some products required a Power-over-Ethernet system, but with The OU green agenda this wasn’t a realistic choice because of energy consumption. Another option was to look at an integrated unified communications system.”
The OU is intensely committed to carbon reduction so a system that can help them with this mission and fulfil their business needs was ideal. According to Wells, “Geography is less relevant in the digital age, and a unified communications solution would reduce communications barriers, help fulfil The OU commitment to environmental sustainability, and reduce costs. We were interested in functions such as instant messaging, desktop sharing, presence awareness, and integrated email.”
Adopting Microsoft Lync 2010 provided three main benefits to The OU:
£2 Million in Savings The OU believes it will achieve significant savings because installing and using Lync 2010 has meant that it will no longer need to replace PABX hardware or pay for third-party maintenance of its PABX. In addition, travel costs to and from Milton Keynes is expected to fall by up to 10 per cent.
“We believe that the saving by deploying Microsoft Lync 2010 instead of buying a new PABX will be around £2 million over five years,” says Wells.
Reduced Carbon Footprint The OU is committed to environmental sustainability in all its operations. Wells says: “Through the pilot programme, we can estimate that travel for staff between OU centres and the main campus could fall between 5 and 10 per cent.”
Improved Communications The OU has found that the Lync 2010 presence awareness has helped users to reduce unnecessary phone calls and emails to ascertain the availability of colleagues for meetings or urgent conversations. In addition, the desktop sharing capability has enabled staff to collaborate in real time when working on documents together. These capabilities have helped improved communications between remote workers and staff based in OU centres or on campus, and enabled users to work flexibly from anywhere.
See the Microsoft Lync 2010 OU Case Study for more information.