Mitel has announced that Ashford Borough Council Local Authority is the only Council in the UK at present to virtualise its voice infrastructure, as a direct result of Mitel becoming the first company to offer voice virtualisation.
Mitel says it has made radical steps forward by resolving voice latency challenges and, for the first time ever, real-time voice performance is now a trusted application in a virtualised environment. The company adds that Virtual Mitel Communications Director (Virtual MCD) is the first real-time voice application designed for the VMware Sphere 4 platform.
“I can confidently say that we are the only Council in the UK to do this at present. I am also positive that we will start a trend for other Councils to adopt this strategy when they see the compelling cost-savings and reliability benefits to do so, which cannot be ignored,” said Rob Neil, Head of ICT & Customer Services, Ashford Borough Council.
Since moving the data centre to VMware vSphere the Council says it has consolidated 60 servers into a ‘staggering’ three resulting in massive cost-savings and maintenance time.
The reduction in server count is already saving the Council 40-45% on their electrical bill. Neil Head points out that reducing the physical server count produces energy savings all across the data centre.
“It all adds up, from cooling to storage and ports on switches and routers. We are expecting the savings to rise to 60% as virtualisation expands to voice and other areas.”
The business of local government never stops, and service continuity is a critical priority for a public service institution. Ashford Borough Council expects to see dramatic improvements in the reliability of its contact centre by bringing it under the umbrella of the virtualised data centre.
“We don’t have a lot of money for building resiliency into our IT systems,” explains Neil. “Getting the old systems back up after a disaster would have taken perhaps five or six days. With VMware vSphere host image backups, we can bring the whole system, including all the intricate dependencies between components such as IVR, voice recognition, contact management, and others, back to full operation in about 20 minutes.”
Backing up entire networks as VMware vSphere images not only makes rolling back to a known good state simple, it also allows Ashford to extend the benefits of their SAN (Storage Area Network) to the contact centre. They expect to see savings of about 50% by reducing their need to purchase discrete disks for specific purposes.
With less focus on maintenance and more focus on innovative projects Virtualisation has moved the IT staff away from general maintenance to working on innovative forward-looking projects that will help serve the public better. This, says the council, keeps the staff excited and engaged, and improves their ability to meet new challenges, giving them the agility to be responsive when policies or programs change; or to adapt quickly when a crisis demands a fast and dramatic reallocation of resources.
Ashford Borough Council plan to run many more Mitel applications on the virtual network in the near future which will given them the possibility of realising even greater time and cost savings.
The Borough of Ashford has been selected by the British Government to encourage population and economic growth over the next two decades, and they expect an increase of 30,000 people in the coming years. Meeting this challenge with constrained resources would have been virtually impossible in a conventional IT environment. Blending the Virtual MCD solution with VMware vSphere in the datacenter is a critical part of its strategy to meet the future with reliable, innovative services for the public.