Like many other companies, the Hüls Group took the conversion to All IP as an opportunity to review the existing telecommunications infrastructure. This revealed that the existing telephone systems no longer matched expectations of a state-of-the-art, convenient telephony solution. In addition, the integration of third-party solutions had become increasingly difficult. The responsible managers therefore started to review various systems from different manufacturers, including both on-premises and Cloud solutions, with the goal of creating a future-proof VoIP infrastructure.
The following system requirements were listed:
Another requirement was to provide the option of a smooth migration, i.e. the gradual transition to the new infrastructure, in order to protect existing investments and avoid disruption.
The final decision in favor of an innovaphone solution had several reasons. On the one hand, it enabled the team to very quickly create a testing scenario using very little hardware, which allowed DIHUG to convince itself of the capabilities of the innovaphone PBX before the actual installation. This showed how easy it is to install this system and underlined the low operating costs in comparison to the systems of other ICT providers. “Compared to all other solutions we tested during our tender procedure, the innovaphone system scored highly thanks to a very smooth installation in the data center. In addition, it does not require much administration, which also helps to save costs,” Michael Flämmich, CIO of the Hüls Group explains.
On the other hand, it became clear that the innovaphone PBX achieves much more than just covering all of the requirements stated in the technical specifications: “A longer testing phase made it increasingly obvious that the existing CTI solutions would be very easy to integrate. The compact “box” – the VoIP gateway on which the innovaphone PBX runs – met all expectations of a modern, future-oriented PBX,” Michael Flämmich concludes.
First, the implementation of the new communications solution needed some groundwork: The migration from ISDN to IP was realized by replacing the existing Voxtron gateway with XCAPI. The existing fiber-to-desk cabling was replaced with copper wires in order to enable PoE (Power over Ethernet). Finally, the switches had to be replaced in order to enable quality of service of the telephony solution.
In a smooth migration process, the innovaphone Master PBX, running on an IP6010 VoIP gateway, was installed in the data center of the Hüls headquarters in Stadtlohn. In addition, another IP6010 was implemented in redundant mode, which seamlessly takes over from the Master PBX in the event of a failure, ensuring smooth and undisrupted communication at all times. Via additional innovaphone VoIP gateways, smaller separate locations were connected to the headquarters. The CTI solutions that were integrated into the infrastructure are hosted by an external data center. The innovaphone IP0011 VoIP Gateway makes centralized licenses available for all locations. Furthermore, the existing Voxtron Communication Center for sales-related requests was also integrated into the corporate infrastructure. This is where all incoming calls for sales staff are reliably directed to the correct contact person via call routing. This interface presented the team with some challenges during the implementation with regard to the display of inbound and outbound telephone numbers (the display always showed an additional 0) and with regard to the migration of the Voxtron Call Center to a new server. These issues were promptly resolved, however, by the responsible system house SIEVERS-GROUP from Osnabrück: “Our service provider managed to solve all of the issues we encountered during the project. An extremely positive fact was that SIEVERS is certified for all of the components we used as well as the legacy systems; therefore, their high expertise covered all areas,” Michael Flämmich commends the provider.
The immediate transition of the infrastructure to the new innovaphone system took just one week. During the smooth migration process, however, old systems were replaced step by step, which means that about 90% of the rollout was completed after three months.
The workplaces of 400 employees were equipped with the innovaphone IP112 end device, an all-rounder with a color display and USB interface for headsets, which is used by about 50% of the employees. For many of the employees, especially in the services and sales departments, the telephone is essential for their work, and they had been familiar with the old devices for many years. This meant they first had to get used to the new devices. With internal training courses, however, employee acceptance of the new devices was achieved in a relatively short period of time. The voice quality is perceived by all as “very good”.
With regard to the administration of the innovaphone system, the rollout was driven by the internal IT team after just a short initial training on the job and without any external support. “The administrative tasks have already become routine by now,” Michael Flämmich adds. “Moving desks has now become very easy: The employees simply take their telephones and connect them via an integrated LAN switch at their new desk. There is no longer any need for extensive rearrangements like on the old telephone exchange,” Michael Flämmich confirms. Software updates for the end devices are processed centrally via the innovaphone PBX. Even restarting the innovaphone PBX, if at all necessary, only takes a few seconds. It therefore does not come as a surprise that the Hüls Group CIO also sums up the experience on a highly positive note: “The new IP Telephony makes life so much easier. When one of our employees moves desks, for example, or in terms of administration. We are now able to expand the system via licenses instead of components. And we are therefore well positioned for the future and in a position to calmly look forward to the upcoming transition to the NGN networks.”
The strategic planning of the Hüls Group comprises the integration of an additional production site into the innovaphone infrastructure as well as the integration of analog end devices such as fax machines, modems etc. with the help of innovaphone analog adapters.