Deutsche Investitions - und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH was founded in 1962 and became a subsidiary of KfW bank group in 2001. As a development financier, it finances investments of private companies in developing and emerging markets.
The Cologne-based company has some 14 representative offices across the world and employs more than 500 people. The innovaphone PBX enables the representative offices in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America and the company’s headquarters in Cologne to be incorporated in a unified IP telephony and UC solution.
The idea to create a new communication solution was born when some departments in Cologne relocated to “open space” office areas. The relocation brought new requirements in terms of "Mobility", which could not be realized using the existing telephone system, the infrastructure needed to be modernized. Once the idea of extending the existing PBX solution had been considered and discarded, the responsible persons investigated several systems that were available on the market, from manufacturers such as Cisco and innovaphone. In the end, the decision fell in favor of the innovaphone PBX for the following reasons:
"We were particularly taken by the fact that the innovaphone system makes it easy and uncomplicated to integrate branch offices and other remote locations into the communication infrastructure - and the number of subscribers is extremely flexible. That’s what tipped the scales for us. Furthermore, the “smooth migration” concept suits us, because it offers a high degree of investment protection while at the same time allowing us to modernize," says Heiko Moors, specialist coordinator IT service desk, DEG. In addition, DEG expected after sales support with the innovaphone solution to be good.
At the company headquarters in Cologne, the innovaphone PBX was installed redundantly on two innovaphone IP6010 VoIP gateways. If one of the systems fails, the redundant VoIP gateway takes over seamlessly. It registers to the Master system and checks its availability at regular intervals. All user data is replicated simultaneously via LDAP protocol. This ensures that both systems are always kept at the same status. The sites in Jakarta, Bangkok, Beijing, Moscow, Nairobi, Johannesburg and Accra are connected to the company’s headquarters in Germany via VPN using innovaphone IP311 and IP411 gateways. Both gateways are suitable for installations with up to 50 users yet differ with regard to the number of interfaces offered. At the branch offices in New Delhi and Mexico City, the innovaphone PBX runs on an IP3011 VoIP gateway, which offers 30 voice channels and is used in scenarios with up to 500 subscribers. Thanks to the extensive IP integration, DEG now has hardly any internal analog ports left, there are less than 30 in number across the world.
All employees, both at headquarters and in the branch offices, are using innovaphone IP232 phones, a modern design telephone with a touch screen that can be supplemented by Jabra headsets, if required. IP111 phones are only used in the functional rooms in the basement of the headquarter building as they can be wall mounted. Concerning telephony, DEG management underlined the importance of joining the innovaphone PBX to the already existing MetaDirectory (estos) and having caller ID for all subscribers including mobile numbers as well as caller ID for colleagues at KfW. This enables extremely efficient and convenient communication amongst employees within the company network.
The innovaphone myPBX UC client enables DEG employees to access various unified communications applications that are available on the innovaphone PBX. Phone calls can be initiated via mouse click, a colleague’s presence status can be seen at a glance thanks to the Presence indicator and video conferences can be set up without any complex settings – and all this can be done from any workstation. The innovaphone Fax solution handles faxes, enabling employees to send and receive faxes quickly and easily from their own computer - even when they are away from their desk. The normal mail client acts as a fax machine and makes both mail-to-fax and fax-to-mail possible. In addition, the innovaphone fax solution is connected to DEG’s SAP system.
When asked about the installation effort, Heiko Moors replies, "The installation was carried out quickly." The staff reaction to the new communication system, especially for voice quality and user comfort, is overwhelmingly positive: "The response to the myPBX UC client is very good - users appreciate its intuitive usability. Another advantage is the excellent voice quality of the new telephone solution. One initial criticism by employees was the glossy display on the IP232 phones. We remedied the situation by putting a matt screen protection on the phones.” The maintenance and administration efforts were particularly important for the company’s IT Department. Heiko Moors adds: "The effort required to set up new subscribers is similar to the old system. Potential sources of error are significantly minimized thanks to coupling with the Active Directory. On the whole, the innovaphone system has fully met our expectations: concerning purchasing and maintenance cost, the innovaphone PBX is much less expensive than the previous system." Moors also draws a positive conclusion concerning the overall acceptance of the innovaphone solution: "Even complicated user requirements are possible. Overall: high acceptance, high satisfaction!"
DEG already has plans to further extend the IP infrastructure: firstly, additional sites will be integrated, including Bangladesh, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Nigeria. The existing systems in Peru, Sao Paulo and Istanbul are to be extended. Conversion to an IP door intercom system is currently being planned for the headquarter building in Cologne. The UC applications, Video and Application Sharing, as well as additional Anywhere Workplace scenarios are to be made available to all employees in the long term.