Monday, July 30, 2007

The most wired college wins with Avaya's intelligent communications networking

BASKING RIDGE, N.J., July 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- As the most wired college in the U.S. plots its technology future, new intelligent communications networking and applications give Villanova University a powerful, flexible foundation to further its vision and provide a wealth of new capabilities today. The new Avaya and Extreme Networks IP telephony network now links 60 buildings on Villanova's Philadelphia campus. It was delivered in less than two months by Empire Technologies, a Platinum- certified BusinessPartner for Avaya Inc. , a leading global provider of business communications applications, software and services.

In December 2006, PC Magazine and The Princeton Review ranked Villanova first among the Top 20 Wired Colleges in the nation. With new intelligent communications capabilities -- including converged networking, unified communications and contact center applications -- the university now is extending its technology leadership and improving campus safety.

"Villanova has a reputation for understanding how advancements in technology can assist in the development and delivery of high-quality education for our students," said Robert Mays, director, Networking Communications, Villanova University. "When we needed to upgrade to next- generation communications capabilities, we knew we needed partners who could provide a flexible, resilient solution that would serve us now and for years to come. The new network, new applications and the Avaya, Empire and Extreme Networks team have delivered just what Villanova required."

Networking for the future, managing costs today

Based on industry-leading Avaya Communication Manager IP telephony software and Extreme Networks switches, the highly available network incorporates Quality of Service capabilities to protect communication applications. Since the solution features integrated management between Avaya phones and Extreme Networks switches and Power over Ethernet (PoE) to provide power to IP handsets, Villanova gains a solution that precisely fits current requirements and takes the university into the future. Over time, data traffic will be migrated to the same network as well, giving the university a single, converged infrastructure that can support voice, data and video.

The network currently supports a mix of 3,500 IP, digital and analog phones, allowing Villanova to use the type most practical for a given use and location. For example, feature-rich IP or SIP phones are used by staff members and will be incorporated into all new buildings. Simpler analog phones are used in dormitory halls and other public areas.

"This converged platform has enormous, long-term value as well as more immediate benefits for greater collaboration," said Steve Fugale, CIO, Villanova. "The implementation couldn't have been any smoother, and the working relationship between Villanova, Avaya, Empire and Extreme has been that way since Day One. We are very pleased with both the technology and the team that's been driven to make this a success."

Better access through unified communications and customer service applications

With the new network in place, Villanova now is incorporating unified communications applications that represent a giant step forward from standalone voice and email messaging. Avaya Modular Messaging will enable faculty and staff to access messages at any time, from anywhere, over a wide array of devices. With an Avaya one-X Speech voice user interface that integrates with Microsoft Outlook, they will be able to access and manage critical business tools hands-free by calling a single number and speaking simple voice commands into the phone. For example, they can tell the virtual personal assistant to organize, read and help compose e-mails, check and schedule appointments and reach contacts quickly and easily using the power of their voice. In addition, voice mail messages will be visible in and manageable from their email inbox. New presence capabilities will eliminate time-consuming phone tag by showing employees who is in the office and free to take their call, and they can "click-to-dial" a colleague from their buddy list.

When the new semester begins this fall, callers will be greeted with speech-driven menus that allow them to reach the proper department and to access directories or other standard information. Potential and current students, parents, alumni and sponsors will find inquiries to the Bursar, Admissions and Development offices handled more efficiently with Avaya contact center applications, including Avaya Contact Center Express. Eventually the same offices will be able to route multi-channel communications directly to the appropriate staff member, just like phone calls are today.

Safer and more secure through intelligent communications

Improving campus safety is of paramount concern for virtually every university. Villanova's new system provides a number of significant enhancements, including E911 capabilities that link directly to municipal emergency communications operations. E911 enables first responders to identify exactly where on campus an emergency call originates, saving valuable time when help is needed. Whenever an emergency call is made or a fire alarm is activated, crisis alert capabilities in Avaya Communication Manager IP telephony software automatically notify designated on-campus personnel via pagers, desktop and mobile phones and PCs.

"The Avaya and Extreme Networks platform is already giving us the flexibility we need for improved access and campus safety," said Mays. "It opens the door to easy integration with hundreds -- if not thousands -- of solutions from Avaya DeveloperConnection members like Meru Networks, Nuance and others, helping us get more out of our communications investment."

Villanova University Charts Technology Future with Avaya Intelligent Communications and Extreme Networks Infrastructure


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