4-page Case Study
Posted: 4/5/2011
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Colmédica Healthcare Firm Upgrades Unified Communications, Streamlines IT Operations

Colmédica is a healthcare insurance and management firm that was founded in 1990, is headquartered in Bogotá, Colombia, and has been part of the Chile-based Banmédica Group since 1996. Colmédica needed a more robust communications solution for employees at its 18 branch offices around Colombia. To address that challenge, the company is upgrading from Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 to Microsoft Lync Server 2010 and the Lync 2010 client. With this upgrade, Colmédica anticipates reducing private-branch exchange, server, and management costs and strengthening strategic relationships.

Situation
Since its founding in 1990, Colmédica has grown to become the third-largest healthcare insurance and management company in Colombia. From its headquarters in Bogotá and 18 branch offices around the country, the 1,500 employees of Colmédica serve a customer base of more than 400,000 individuals and families through a network of 3,500 medical professionals.

According to Mauricio Rueda Caro, Director of Support and Communications at Colmédica, the company has thrived in a fiercely competitive environment not only because of its highly customized approach to products and services, but also because of its innovative use of information technology to deliver them to customers. For instance, Colmédica was ahead of its competitors in installing kiosks at medical centers that enable customers to communicate with medical professionals through videoconferences. Since the mid-2000s, the company has supported a “virtual workplace” that supports employees who work remotely, and it has provided smartphones to its medical providers.

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* With our Lync 2010 unified communications solution, we are well-positioned to expand into new market segments. *

Liliana Barón Coronado
Network Administrator and Support Engineer, Colmédica

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Colmédica also was among the first in its industry to deploy voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), as part of a wider initiative to implement unified communications enterprisewide. However, according to Rueda, to realize the full benefits of that initiative, the company needed a better way to support employees at the branch offices in the event of network disruptions. “Branch-office employees using VoIP experienced routine disruptions, which meant they could not use the service for remote conferencing with customers or suppliers,” he says. “This required the company to maintain backup telephony systems, at a significant yearly cost.”

Solution
Considering the company’s then-current deployment of Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 and widespread use of Microsoft products and technologies at the server and client level alike, Rueda and his colleagues decided the best approach to this challenge was an upgrade to Microsoft Lync Server 2010 and Microsoft Lync 2010. In particular, they valued those products’ support for survivable branch appliances (SBAs), including Media Bypass. An SBA is a purpose-built hardware device consisting of a Mediation Server and gateway that is used to increase voice resiliency in branch-office scenarios. Media Bypass helps simplify the network topology in a unified communications infrastructure.

Rueda and his colleagues also liked the support in Lync Server 2010 for virtualization through the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with Hyper-V technology, because 80 percent of the company’s servers are virtualized. They especially liked the product’s support for the G.711 codec, which maintains voice quality when a call is switched from VoIP to traditional telephony in the case of a network disruption.

Deployment of the Microsoft Lync products began in mid-2010. Two employees worked full time on the project, two others worked part time, and about a dozen others worked on it intermittently. Microsoft Services provided one consultant for on-site assistance.

The team deployed a three-month pilot rollout to 20 IT employees, followed by a production rollout that started at headquarters and is continuing at the branch offices. To define the branch-office topology, team members are using the Lync Server 2010 Topology Builder, and to simplify administration, they are using the Windows PowerShell command-line interface in Windows Server 2008 R2. To streamline and centralize management across the infrastructure, they are using the Server Control Panel in Lync Server 2010.

On the hardware side, Colmédica is deploying AudioCodes Mediant SBAs to connect the Lync Server 2010 network to legacy private-branch exchange (PBX) and public switched telephone network (PSTN) trunks at the branch offices. The company also is deploying 100 Microsoft LifeCam Cinema high-definition cameras for video conferencing and 300 Plantronics Voyager PRO headsets, the latter deployment based largely on the company’s successful use of Plantronics headsets for 10 years. This was a wise move, according to Hans Avendaño, Project Manager at Colmédica. “We are pleased with the audio quality of the hardware, and the documentation explaining how to integrate the product into the Lync 2010 solution,” he says.

Once deployment is complete, Colmédica will run Lync Server 2010 on physical and virtual servers, and Lync 2010 on its employee

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* Ultimately, we will be able to remove all PBX hardware from our branch offices, reducing bandwidth needs, for a significant yearly savings. *

Liliana Barón Coronado
Network Administrator and Support Engineer, Colmédica

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workstations. All of Colmédica’s 1,100 information workers, including call-center staff, will use its telephony, chat, and instant messaging and presence awareness capabilities, and 500 of these workers will also use audio conferencing and web conferencing.

Benefits
Rueda, Avendaño, and their colleagues are looking forward to significant benefits for Colmédica from the deployment of Lync Server 2010 and Lync 2010. These benefits come from the reduction or elimination of costs of PBX and server hardware at the branch offices, and from more-efficient communications management enterprisewide. Other anticipated benefits include the ability to respond more promptly to customer and supplier requests and to extend unified communications cost effectively and efficiently.

Cost Savings in Hardware and Management
Support for SBA was the primary reason for the company’s move to Lync Server 2010 and Lync 2010, and Liliana Barón Coronado, Network Administrator and Support Engineer at Colmédica, anticipates significant improvements in branch-office communications capabilities once deployment is complete. “Ultimately, we will be able to remove all PBX hardware from our branch offices, reducing bandwidth needs, for a significant yearly savings,” she says. “Moreover, thanks to the Lync Server 2010 SBA Media Bypass, we can implement the service at the branches with fewer servers for an additional savings on deployment, maintenance, and support.”

Barón and her colleagues also anticipate making communications management more cost effective. “With the help of the Lync Server 2010 Server Control Panel, we will be able to manage unified communications very efficiently, spending less on that activity than we did before,” Barón says.

Efficient Communication with Customers, Suppliers
In addition to the IT-related cost efficiencies resulting from the Lync 2010 deployment at Colmédica, Barón looks forward to significant benefits on the business side. “Working from headquarters, branch offices, or remotely, employees will be able to respond in a timelier manner to customers, providers, and suppliers,” she says. “They can attend to critical processes and make strategic decisions without delays.”

This is even more the case considering the next steps that Colmédica will take for this deployment. “By implementing federation capabilities, we will be able to extend unified communications to select providers and suppliers,” Barón says. “This will enhance our alliances, for a distinct competitive advantage.”

Beyond even that, as Barón points out, the company’s options are plentiful: “With our Lync 2010 unified communications solution, we are well-positioned to expand into new market segments. It will be faster, easier, and less costly for us to activate a full range of communications, however and wherever we need them.”

Microsoft Lync Server
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.

For more information about Microsoft Lync Server 2010, 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 Colmédica products and services, call 01 8000 123700 or visit the website at:
www.colmedica.com

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 1500 employees

Organization Profile

Colmédica is a healthcare insurance provider that employs 1,500 people and generated gross revenues of U.S.$300 million in 2010.


Business Situation

Branch-office employees who were using voice over IP experienced routine disruptions, which required the company to maintain costly backup telephony systems.


Solution

The firm upgraded to Microsoft Lync Server 2010 and Microsoft Lync 2010 and installed AudioCodes Mediant survivable branch appliances, Plantronics Voyager PRO headsets, and Microsoft LifeCam Cinema high-definition cameras.


Benefits

  • Cost savings in telephony hardware and management
  • More reliable communications with customers and suppliers
  • Foundation for business growth


Hardware
  • AudioCodes Mediant Survivable Branch Appliances
  • Plantronics Voyager PRO headsets
  • Microsoft LifeCam Cinema HD cameras

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2010
  • Microsoft Lync 2010
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Microsoft Hyper-V

Vertical Industries
  • Health
  • Financial Services

Country/Region
Colombia

Business Need
Unified Communications

IT Issue
  • Personal Productivity
  • Hosted Messaging and Collaboration
  • High Availability

Languages
English

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