4-page Case Study
Posted: 2/19/2013
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Marquette University University Upgrades Communications Capabilities to Improve Access and Reliability

Marquette University is the largest private college in the state of Wisconsin. Founded in 1881, the nationally ranked university provides education for 11,500 undergraduate and graduate students. Marquette had deployed a Microsoft communications solution to provide voice, enhanced presence, instant messaging, and conferencing capabilities to its faculty, staff, and students. With that solution in place, the university substantially reduced telephony costs and created programs and applications that help it offer better service to students. It recently upgraded to Microsoft Lync Server 2013 to take advantage of improvements in high availability, video, and persistent chat capabilities. With Lync Server 2013, Marquette has improved availability of critical services, reduced costs and administration requirements, and improved its communications offerings for faculty, staff, and students.

Situation
Founded in 1881, Marquette University is a private, coeducational university with 11,500 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at its campus near downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It also employs 2,500 faculty, staff, and administrators. The university includes 11 schools and colleges, and it has been ranked highly on several nationally recognized college ranking sources, including US News and World Report.

A centralized IT Services department manages the communications infrastructure used by the university faculty, staff, administrators, and students. Communication is critical at Marquette both to help run the business of the university and to support interaction between faculty and students. Over the last several years, IT Services has pursued a comprehensive communications solution for the university.

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* The transition to Lync from our PBX systems will save us more than $200,000 per year when it’s complete. *

Dan Smith
Senior Director of IT Services, Marquette University

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As part of that solution, Marquette wanted to retire its private-branch exchange (PBX) systems and install voice over IP (VoIP) to reduce costs and provide a wider range of communications options. The university had a large demand for conferencing services, but did not have a centralized infrastructure to provide them. Individual departments often contracted out for audio and web conferencing services. Occasionally departments used videoconferencing for events, and again it had to be outsourced. Marquette also wanted a solution that would integrate with its existing communications and collaboration infrastructure, such as Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft SharePoint Server.

Marquette deployed its first VoIP solution in 2007 to replace an outdated Siemens PBX system. Marquette chose a Microsoft solution over a Cisco Call Manager solution because the Microsoft solution was less expensive and provided many additional capabilities. “At the time, with the Cisco solution, all we got was the phone,” explains Dan Smith, Senior Director of IT Services at Marquette University. “What opened our eyes was that with the Microsoft solution on the desktop and the interoperation with Outlook, we got so much more.” Marquette currently uses Microsoft Lync Server 2010 to provide instant messaging (IM), presence, desktop sharing, and conferencing capabilities to 2,200 staff members and 11,500 students and enterprise voice for all 2,500 faculty and staff.

Solution
To take another step toward achieving its goal of a comprehensive communications solution, Marquette deployed Microsoft Lync Server 2013. Lync Server 2013 expands on the capabilities of Lync Server 2010 with improved video support, high-availability options, interoperation with Microsoft Office applications, and many other features.

Delivering VoIP
Marquette expects to deploy Lync enterprise voice to all faculty and staff before the beginning of the 2013–2014 school year. The university expects to support 2,500 users and 3,000 phones on Lync Server 2013.

To provide telephony through Lync, the university uses a session-initiation protocol (SIP) trunk from TW Telecom to connect Lync Server 2013 to the public-switched telephone network. SIP trunking uses the session-initiation protocol and real-time transport protocol (RTP) to pass network traffic from Lync Server directly to a network service provider over an IP connection.

So that faculty and staff can use Lync voice capabilities, Marquette provides Polycom CX600 phones. “With the Polycom CX600, we can support everyone, from the people who want to dial out from a phone to the advanced users who use the directory features,” says Smith. “Some of our older phones didn’t have caller ID. Now people get a much better user experience with caller ID, photos, presence information, which has really helped adoption.” Some staff prefer headsets to phones and can choose from a variety of Jabra headsets.

Providing In-House Conferencing Services
The university has had huge success with Lync Server 2013 conferencing services. Faculty and staff appreciate the broad browser support for online meetings. With Lync Web App, faculty and staff can access online meetings and all the same capabilities available to Microsoft Lync 2013 client users. PC and Mac users can also use Lync Web App to join a Lync meeting from a browser. The Lync Web App delivers a full Lync meeting experience, including multiparty high-definition (HD) video, VoIP, instant messaging, and desktop sharing. With the broader access to Lync 2013 capabilities, some faculty plan to use Lync 2013 for distance learning in the upcoming semester.

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* The PowerShell functionality in Lync Server 2013 has made a big difference in our productivity. We couldn’t manage this size of a deployment in the amount of time we do without PowerShell. *

Victor Martinez
Windows Team Lead, Marquette University

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Now that Lync 2013 supports the H.264 SVC (scalable video coding) and multiparty video, the university also plans to host more of its own conferences. “Lync 2013 provides all the capabilities people were getting through the third-party conferencing services and then some,” says Victor Martinez, Windows Team Lead at Marquette University. “We can provide everything they need at no additional cost.” Marquette has supplied some users with Logitech B910 HD web cameras to participate in HD videoconferences from their desks.

Connecting with the Desktop Client
To encourage students to adopt Lync Server 2013, Marquette is promoting capabilities to improve their experience, such as federation with Skype and Google Chat. “Our foreign language department uses Skype to practice language skills with students around the world,” says Smith. “Now they can have those conversations using the Lync 2013 client, so they are integrated with the rest of their communications.” Marquette also plans to enable meeting rooms for students to use to host meetings for classes or campus groups.

By using Lync Mobile for Windows 8 and all other major phone platforms, students and faculty can stay connected from anywhere. They can make calls through data networks rather than using their dial plans.

Marquette also believes that students and faculty will find that the interoperability with Microsoft Office products and Microsoft SharePoint Server contributes to a great user experience. “The interoperation between Lync Server 2013 and other Microsoft products is really helpful. When you can drag something into a document in SharePoint Server, collaboration is much easier,” says Smith. People can also initiate phone calls or chat sessions from within Microsoft Office applications rather than opening the Lync 2013 client.

Addressing Needs for Persistent Chat
The university’s emergency response team came to the IT department with a request for a system that it could use to communicate in an emergency and track the actions of various responders. Lync Server 2013 persistent chat was a natural fit. Persistent chat, now accessed from the Lync 2013 client, enables teams to meet and collaborate in virtual rooms in real time. The discussions are searchable and persist over time, enabling efficient information sharing. The response team can post notices to the entire university and use chat rooms for internal communications to maintain a record of the event. All students, faculty, and staff can access persistent chat rooms through the unified Lync 2013 client. “Persistent chat is great for us. We set it up for the emergency response team, but now we have created rooms for IT support, class discussion rooms, and any other scenario where we want to preserve conversations from multiple people,” says Smith.

Implementing Redundancy to Limit Downtime
Lync Server 2013 has several capabilities that will help Marquette ensure a high level of availability. Marquette deployed Lync Server 2013 with two front-end server pools that are linked to provide redundancy. If one server pool is taken offline, people are automatically switched to the other pool and experience little to no downtime.

In addition, Marquette deployed two instances of SQL Server data management software and is using database mirroring to provide a backup. With the addition of a third SQL Server instance to serve as a witness, the failover between the database servers is automatic. “With Lync Server 2013, we have a standalone infrastructure that is redundant. We can lose half of our servers and still have IM and voice,” says Martinez. “Also, data is now stored in two places with automatic failover, so we don’t have downtime while we restore from backups.”

Addressing Management
Marquette has two people who manage Lync Server 2013 along with other job responsibilities. “That we can have a small number of administrators maintain and manage a 14,000 user deployment is a testament to the management tools that Microsoft provides for Lync,” says Martinez. Marquette uses the Lync Server 2013 control panel for day-to-day management and uses Windows PowerShell command-line interface scripts extensively for creating accounts or other more complex tasks. “The PowerShell functionality in Lync Server 2013 has made a big difference in our productivity,” adds Martinez. “We couldn’t manage this size of a deployment in the amount of time we do without PowerShell.”

Delegated management capabilities for response groups have helped to minimize the administration time required for Lync Server 2013. Response group members can be given permission to control membership, business hours, forwarding, and other useful functions.

Benefits
With the Microsoft Lync Server solution, Marquette University provides a reliable but low-cost solution that meets all of the university’s communications needs.

Reduced Telephony and Conferencing Costs
To date, Marquette has retired one PBX system, and it expects to retire the remaining five systems on campus over the next two years as it completes its Lync voice deployment.

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* The architecture we have implemented with the paired front-end pool and mirrored databases will dramatically improve our uptime. *

Dan Smith
Senior Director of IT Services, Marquette University

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As it continues to transition its voice solution to Lync Server 2013, the university expects to see even larger cost savings. IT Services estimates that the university will save US$31 per line each year in maintenance costs; this will result in more than $90,000 per year in savings. “For just the student administration building, our annual savings is $12,000 because we no longer have to maintain the PBX for those phones,” says Smith.

In addition, by using SIP trunking for its enterprise voice calls, the university has reduced costs for phone service by about $120,000 per year. Marquette also reduced costs by adopting Lync, because it eliminated third-party conferencing services. “The transition to Lync from our PBX systems will save us more than $200,000 per year when it’s complete,” says Smith.

Simplified Administration
Because Marquette already has a small staff to manage Lync Server 2013, they appreciate the new capabilities that will make their lives easier. Now that an administrator can delegate the responsibilities for a response group to a manager, the IT team spends less time managing response group settings.

Marquette also finds that the Lync monitoring capabilities help staff troubleshoot issues. “Lync provides the diagnostic information we need to investigate and resolve the issues we see on Lync,” says Smith. “It saves us a lot of time we might have spent investigating issues.”

Managing the phone system is also much easier as more people use Lync 2013 for voice service. “People on campus change offices frequently,” explains Smith. “Our problems with adds, moves, and changes have disappeared. When people move, their laptop goes with them.”

Improved Availability
Marquette believes that IM and presence are just as important to the functioning of the university as email. With the Lync Server, 2013 deployment, it believes that the high-availability architecture now ensures that critical communications are always accessible. “The architecture we have implemented with the paired front-end pool and mirrored databases will dramatically improve our uptime,” says Smith. “None of the services are dependent on a single server, which enables us to do planned maintenance and handle any unplanned downtime without interrupting service.”

Better Service for Students
Since Lync Web App supports multiple browsers, Marquette professors are now more comfortable using it to support distance learning for their classes. With an easy option to provide distance learning, professors will have additional flexibility for reaching students.

Persistent chat also has a lot of potential to improve the delivery of education at Marquette. Setting up chat rooms for class discussion will enable the professors to monitor and add to student discussions. The discussions or explanations of course topics become readily accessible to all class members over the entire semester, providing much more utility than simply responding to one student via email or in person during office hours.

Microsoft Lync Server 2013
Microsoft Lync Server 2013 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 system that works with existing tools and systems for easier management, lower cost of ownership, smoother deployment and migration, and greater choice and flexibility.

For more information about Microsoft Lync Server 2013, go to:
www.microsoft.com/lync

For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
www.microsoft.com

For more information about Marquette University, call (414) 288-7799 or visit the website at:
www.marquette.edu

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 1100 employees

Organization Profile

Marquette University is a coeducational Jesuit university in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It has 11,500 students and 2,500 faculty, staff, and administrators.


Business Situation

Marquette wanted to provide a comprehensive communications and collaboration solution for faculty, staff, and students.


Solution

It deployed Microsoft Lync 2013 to provide voice, conferencing, and instant messaging and presence capabilities across the university.


Benefits

  • Reduced telephony and conferencing costs
  • Simplified administration
  • Improved availability
  • Better service for students

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2013
  • Microsoft Lync 2013
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2
  • Windows PowerShell

Vertical Industries
Higher Education

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
  • Business Productivity
  • Unified Communications

IT Issue
Personal Productivity

Languages
English

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