Established in 1879 in Milledgeville, Georgia Military College (GMC) includes a liberal arts junior college, a high school, and a middle school. GMC’s focus is on a junior college military science program that culminates at the end of two years of study and training with contracted cadets being commissioned as officers in the U.S. Army. GMC is one of five military junior colleges that participate in the Army’s Early Commissioning Program. The main campus in Milledgeville serves about 275 resident full-time ROTC students (the Corps of Cadets) and several hundred local area commuter students. GMC also offers five centers and two extension offices located around the state of Georgia that serve a total of almost 4,000 commuter full and part time students.
More about GMC can be found at http://www.gmc.cc.ga.us/
Drago shared some of the key challenges that the college was facing:
Costs - The telecommunications services at GMC were based on Centrex service from a major local exchange carrier, supporting the staff and facilities across the seven campuses. The costs associated with the Centrex service were a significant portion of the communications budget and very unpredictable, making them difficult to budget. The unpredictability in costs were the result of fees associated with moves, adds and changes – often due to instructor and staff mobility and office changes. The local access line charges, local and long distance calling fees were significant and an easy target for cost reduction.
Need for Collaboration - In addition to cost management, the ability for instructional staff, students and administration to collaborate was quite limited – requiring physical meetings that were often difficult to schedule and requiring staff to travel between the widely distributed campuses. The inability to effectively collaborate between staff and campuses slowed the decision making process and was highly inefficient.
Retention of Local Telephone Numbers – as many of the employees and students live relatively close to the various campuses, maintaining local telephone numbers for each of the various campuses was important.
Reliability – any modification to the communications infrastructure at the college must encompass a survivability strategy, allowing each of the campuses to be self-sufficient and continue to offer services in the case of a WAN or data center failure.
To address these issues, Drago and his team of network support staff developed the following plan:
- Deploy Microsoft OCS R2 at each of the seven campuses, providing instant messaging, desktop collaboration and new IP Phones for voice communications
- Install two AudioCodes Mediant Hybrid Gateways at the main campus and smaller gateways at each remote campus as needed to integrate OCS with the existing TDM trunking and Centrex service
- Upgrade the AudioCodes Mediant 1000 gateways at the main campus to add E-SBC capabilities, deploy Mediant 800 E-SBCs at each of the remote campuses
- Activate Broadvox GO! SIP Trunking service with local numbers at each of the campuses
- Decommission the Centrex service and the majority of the TDM trunking circuits (keeping only a few analog trunks for alarm panels)
- Upgrade each of the campuses to Microsoft Lync as it became practical
With the completion of the migration plan, Drago and the college has completely moved to Microsoft Unified Communications, eliminating the legacy Centrex service and TDM trunking. The college now utilizes Broadvox GO! SIP Trunking for all local and long distance calling, retaining local numbers in each of the campus locations. Interoperability and security for the college is accomplished with an array of AudioCodes Mediant 1000 and Mediant 800 E-SBS devices, at least one device is installed at each campus.
After a financial analysis, the college realized an 80% reduction of monthly reoccurring telecommunications charges and has seen continued reduction in the per-user reduction in communications costs. By migrating to Unified Communications and SIP Trunking, the college is more efficient, more responsive to student and staff needs, and is better prepared for growth.
As part of the Microsoft TAP program, Drago and his team are looking forward to working with the next generation of Unified Communications in Microsoft Lync Wave 15 and enhanced conferencing and other features as it becomes available.