The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) is a government agency founded in Mexico in 2000 to promote conservation of ecosystems and to develop policies for natural resources and environmental quality. SEMARNAT employees must work closely with other government agencies, as well as with colleagues at the agency’s 32 branch offices around the country. The agency was eager to use technology to reduce travel and the associated carbon emissions. It had deployed Microsoft solutions for messaging and instant messaging, but it wanted to provide more ways for employees to communicate about projects without having to travel. SEMARNAT decided to deploy Microsoft Lync Server 2010 to provide additional capabilities, such as federation and unified messaging for employees, but also to provide a more central solution that contains enhanced security features and is easier to manage.
Founded in 2000, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) is the federal government agency responsible for promoting the protection, restoration, and conservation of ecosystems and natural resources, as well as environmental goods and services from Mexico, to facilitate their use and sustainable development. As part of the Federal Environmental Sector, the agency is divided into three subdepartments and various decentralized bodies that focus on four priority areas: the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems and biodiversity; the prevention and control of pollution; the comprehensive management of water resources; and the fight against climate change.
SEMARNAT maintains three main office buildings in Mexico City, as well as 32 offices around the country. With 3,000 employees spread across state offices and commissions all over Mexico, people often traveled to maintain communication and manage the agency’s various projects. Employees also must work with people at other government agencies to help achieve the agency’s goals.
||With 5 percent of SEMARNAT employees avoiding driving to a meeting each day, we estimate we have reduced carbon emissions by more than 300 metric tons.
||Vanessa Pantoja Ferzuli
Data Services Manager, SEMARNAT
For messaging, SEMARNAT had deployed Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 email messaging and collaboration software; employees receive and manage email through the Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 messaging and collaboration client. The agency also deployed Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, so employees had access to presence information, instant messaging capabilities, and internal audio conferencing features to 2,500 people across the agency to help them communicate in real time about project development and status. Employees relied on an AVANTEL solution for video conferencing. It also deployed Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 for collaboration and document sharing.
Because SEMARNAT works closely with other government agencies, it must ensure that communication and information transfer takes place in a secure environment, but it also needs methods to keep the lines of communication open between agencies. It wanted to find a cost-effective way to provide a more consolidated communications network that would make it easy for remote agencies and employees who travel to work with one another. In particular, it wanted to integrate its video-conferencing solution with its other communications capabilities. Finally, both for communications and environmental reasons, the agency needed a solution that would enable employees to travel less frequently.
In September 2010, SEMARNAT began deploying Microsoft Lync Server 2010 to provide a more comprehensive communications solution for employees. Lync Server provides enhanced versions of the communications capabilities provided by Office Communications Server 2007 R2—presence, instant messaging, robust conferencing, and enterprise voice—as well as improvements in topology, deployment, and management tools. By November 2010, it deployed the full solution to all of its 3,000 employees.
“We decided to deploy Lync because it is a complete communications solution that is easy for people to use and easy for us to manage,” says Vanessa Pantoja Ferzuli, Data Services Manager at SEMARNAT. The agency deployed Lync at its central data center in Mexico City, with a single front-end, edge, and archiving server. With the edge server in place, employees can use federation to view presence information, start chat sessions, or hold online meetings with colleagues at other agencies that have also enabled federation. They can also use Microsoft Lync Web App to use instant messaging or ad hoc collaboration and online meeting capabilities through a browser from any computer with a network connection. Just as users will improve collaboration by sharing work on their desktops, the IT team will use desktop sharing to troubleshoot issues with remote computers.
The agency is replacing its video conferencing solution with Lync. Switching to Lync enables SEMARNAT to provide access to audio and video conferencing to all of its employees who have access to a webcam. It is testing the Microsoft LifeCam HD camera, which captures high-definition audio and video in a convenient package. The agency is also testing Plantronics Voyager PRO headsets for times when users only require audio capabilities.
To make communications widely available, SEMARNAT has set up Lync Server to work with Exchange Server and SharePoint Server. Employees have the same user experience across all the products; they can view their colleagues’ presence information, and with one click they can easily start a chat session or audio conversation.
Employees will continue to rely on the presence and instant-messaging capabilities that were available to them in Office Communications Server 2007, but they now can also take advantage of additional capabilities for instant communication and collaboration. By using the new capabilities in the Lync desktop client, employees can view enhanced presence information for colleagues. By using the Activity Feed, they can provide a brief description of what they are working on each day. They can also escalate an instant-messaging session to an online conference with the single click of a mouse. For collaboration, people can use the whiteboard and desktop sharing capabilities to create and review project documents.
||We decided to deploy Lync because it is a complete communications solution that is easy for people to use and easy for us to manage.
||Vanessa Pantoja Ferzuli
Data Services Manager, SEMARNAT
With the archiving server in place, SEMARNAT can also ensure more secure communications to help it meet regulatory standards. It can store instant-messaging and web-conferencing content and meeting attendee lists in a central store, which it can manage through the web-based management console. It can also easily search content and file-sharing links as needed.
By deploying Lync Server 2010, SEMARNAT has provided a more secure, complete communications solution for employees, which will help them collaborate and share information more easily. The company will also reduce travel with its associated carbon emissions and costs, and employees will experience a boost in productivity.
SEMARNAT expects to reduce travel as its employees hold more meetings through Lync with their remote coworkers and with federated colleagues at other agencies. “With 5 percent of SEMARNAT employees avoiding driving to a meeting each day, we estimate we have reduced carbon emissions by more than 300 metric tons,” explains Ferzuli.
Improved Security Compliance
Because instant-messaging and conferencing archives are consolidated, the IT team can much more easily manage policy settings and retrieve information. By using the Windows PowerShell capabilities in Lync, the IT team can easily create a searchable transcript of any archived content. They can also more easily enable archiving for particular employees who require it and disable features that cannot be archived.
Because presence, instant messaging, and ad hoc collaboration and online meeting capabilities are unified in a single client, employees can communicate more easily with each other and with colleagues at other agencies, which helps them be more productive.
The IT team is experiencing improved productivity because they only have to manage a single solution and do not have to rely on service calls or external support from other vendors. Also, with desktop sharing, they can more effectively troubleshoot problems with employee computers without having to leave the office.
Microsoft Lync Server 2010
Microsoft Lync Server 2010 ushers in a new connected user experience that transforms every communication into an interaction that is more collaborative and engaging and that is accessible from anywhere. For IT, the benefits are equally powerful, with a highly secure and reliable communications solution that works with existing tools and systems for easier management, lower cost of ownership, smoother deployment and migration, and greater choice and flexibility.
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