4-page Case Study
Posted: 11/16/2011
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Dell Inc. Dell Deploys Enterprise Voice Solution to Support Connected Workplace Initiative

For more than 26 years, customers have trusted Dell to deliver technology solutions that help them do more, whether they are at home, work, school, or anywhere in the world. As a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, Dell designs and implements unified communications solutions built around Microsoft technologies. Recently, the company began a Connected Workforce initiative to improve its internal collaboration and enable Dell employees to work from remote locations. To support this initiative, Dell deployed Microsoft Lync Server 2010 with enterprise voice capabilities to approximately 13,000 employees. By deploying Lync Server 2010, Dell can improve productivity, reduce its carbon footprint, and provide a better work-life balance for its agile workforce.

Dell was founded in Austin, Texas, in 1984, and it continues to shape the industry by breaking new ground and pioneering critical developments in home, small business, and enterprise computing. The company’s research and development efforts now span the globe, driven by some of the industry’s foremost product designers and engineers. It connects with more than 5.4 million customers every day, and more than 100,000 team members around the world are committed to making technology work for customers and communities.

In 2010, Dell began a Connected Workplace initiative to facilitate a more mobile workforce and foster collaboration through flexible workplace designs. The Facilities team at Dell envisioned a future where Dell employees had the ability to determine whether they need to go into an office or work from home. At the office, employees would not be assigned to a cubicle but would instead be able to choose the work environment that best meets their needs, whether for group collaboration or private phone calls.

* People are no longer tethered to a desk or a phone. With Lync 2010 as their voice solution, they can work from any location that helps them to be the most productive. *

Kenneth Oballo
Director of Global Messaging and Collaboration, Dell

The Facilities team turned to IT for its ideas on how to best provide the technology for a connected workplace. Dell already had much of the technology in place to support a mobile workforce. In 2006, Dell deployed Microsoft Office Live Communications Server to provide instant messaging (IM) capabilities for some of its workforce. It eventually upgraded the solution to Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 and deployed it companywide to its more than 100,000 team members to take full advantage of capabilities such as presence, desktop sharing, and online meeting capabilities. Through Office Communications Server 2007 R2, it also used federation to open up more channels of communication with more than 450 partners, vendors, and customers.

The IT department was also investigating enterprise voice capabilities through Office Communications Server for a softphone solution. At its headquarters in Austin, it had an aging private-branch exchange (PBX) system that was costly and time-consuming to maintain. “We wanted to deploy enterprise voice capabilities to help us drive down the cost of maintaining this older equipment,” explains Kenneth Oballo, Director of Global Messaging and Collaboration at Dell. “With IT’s conclusion that a softphone solution would lower costs and support the Facilities team’s Connected Workplace initiative, Dell began a more intensive look at its options.”

Dell considered other softphone solutions but felt that these solutions would have been more expensive to implement than enterprise voice through Office Communications Server and that they would not have provided a single unified communications solution for its employees. “We did not want to change or add more infrastructure to support what would be mostly duplicate technology just to get voice capabilities,” says Oballo. “We had already invested in the infrastructure for Office Communications Server, so it was not a large effort to implement enterprise voice—and people really like the technology. So we were able to quickly tell Facilities that we had a solution that could support their initiative.”

Dell initially set up its voice infrastructure in Austin, using gateways to coexist with the existing PBX and other PBX equipment at its offices. Later, as the deployment expanded, some employees were transitioned off the PBX equipment and connected directly to the telephony provider. By transitioning employees in Austin off of the aging PBX, IT avoided doing any upgrades or maintenance.

With the voice infrastructure in place, Dell began to restructure some of the company’s office spaces in Austin and Toronto, Ontario, into highly collaborative workspaces instead of the typical cubicles. “As Facilities went building by building and updated the offices, we were able to transition the users onto enterprise voice,” explains Oballo. In the first year of the initiative approximately 13,000 employees had transitioned to softphones as part of the Connected Workplace initiative. These employees also received voice mail through Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Unified Messaging. With Unified Messaging, employees can receive and manage both voice-mail and email messages through the Microsoft Outlook messaging and collaboration client.

Dell plans to transition its more than 100,000 team members, including the 13,000 voice users, to Microsoft Lync Server 2010. Lync Server 2010 provides enhanced versions of the communications capabilities provided by Office Communications Server 2007 R2—presence, IM, robust conferencing, and enterprise voice—as well as improvements in topology, deployment, and management tools.

* Through Lync, we can escalate an IM session to a voice call or a desktop sharing session with one click. You cannot put a dollar amount on the value of that. *

Kenneth Oballo
Director of Global Messaging and Collaboration, Dell

With its Office Communications Server deployment, Dell had implemented the solution at two large data centers in Malaysia and Austin. Because the Lync Server environment supports virtualization, Dell decided to virtualize its deployment, which meant it could deploy Lync at three additional locations on its Dell PowerEdge R710 Rack Servers with a smaller server footprint and better redundancy. The IT team took advantage of Topology Builder feature in Lync Server 2010 to quickly define all the parameters required to design a new installation. Topology Builder then communicates with the servers to install the correct configuration. “Our migration to Lync Server has been very straightforward,” says Oballo.

Dell is using the Windows PowerShell command-line interface to automate repetitive tasks, or to add or edit user settings for groups. Administrators also use the web-based management console to access and manage the Lync Server deployment from any location, without the need to install administrative software. To better define help-desk and administration roles, the IT team is using the Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) feature for more granular control over how they assign permissions.

For the approximate 13,000 employees using the enterprise voice capabilities in Lync Server, Dell provided USB headsets carrying the Optimized for Lync logo to help ensure a quality end-user experience. With Lync on the desktop, employees also have a single, unified client to access capabilities like audio conferencing, desktop sharing, and online meetings.

With Lync Server 2010, Dell can provide a softphone solution to support its Connected Workplace initiative. Employees can continue to take advantage of the productivity benefits they got from Office Communications Server 2007 R2, while also benefitting from enhancements in the Microsoft Lync 2010 client that will make them even more productive at their jobs.

Improves Collaboration and Productivity
Dell believes that the Lync Server 2010 deployment coupled with its Connected Workplace initiative has helped foster collaboration through flexible workplace designs. “People are no longer tethered to a desk or a phone. With Lync 2010 as their voice solution, they can work from any location that helps them to be the most productive,” explains Oballo. “They can come into the office to work in one of the collaborative spaces to develop projects or troubleshoot problems, or they can work from a customer site or from home.”

Oballo also believes that having a unified communications solution has made people more productive, and the addition of enterprise voice can help increase that productivity. “Before, we could see through presence information whether someone was available and send them an instant message immediately,” says Oballo. “Through Lync, we can escalate an IM session to a voice call or a desktop sharing session with one click. You cannot put a dollar amount on the value of that.”

Controls Costs
Dell was able to achieve one of its early goals by avoiding maintenance and upgrades on its aging PBX as it transitioned employees to Lync Server 2010. Dell plans to have the system retired in the near future. As other PBX systems come up for refresh, Dell evaluates each one to see if Lync can be used to replace it or extend its life.

* As soon as we provide the Lync voice capabilities to people, they start working from home more often. By taking cars off the road, we are helping to reduce Dell’s carbon footprint. *

Kenneth Oballo
Director of Global Messaging and Collaboration, Dell

Dell has also reduced long distance and roaming charges for employees who travel. Employees now essentially take their office phones with them on the road so that they can make and receive calls without using hotel phones or their mobile phones. In addition, Dell hopes to reduce travel overall by increasing the use of online meetings and videoconferencing.

Reduces Environmental Impact
Dell has found that employees have quickly adapted to the new workplace flexibility offered through the Connected Workplace initiative. “As soon as we provide the Lync voice capabilities to people, they start working from home more often,” notes Oballo. “By taking cars off the road, we are helping to reduce Dell’s carbon footprint.”

Promotes Better Work-Life Balance
Dell now enables a better work-life balance for its employees. “A big part of the Connected Workforce initiative is ensuring quality of life for our employees,” explains Oballo. “They can push off travel or avoid traffic by using online meetings or videoconferencing to meet with colleagues or customers, giving them more flexibility and choice of when and where work happens.”

Eases Administrative Burden
With Lync Server 2010, Dell believes daily management tasks are easier to perform and administrative tools, such as the Windows PowerShell command-line interface, have simplified management overall. For managing Lync Server, PowerShell provides powerful remote access capabilities and restricted runspaces (the operating environment where commands are processed) so that administrators can more easily manage servers in their communications environment. “Before, if we wanted to automate tasks or apply something on a mass scale, we had to find someone who could write scripts and follow more complicated steps,” says Oballo. “People are a lot more comfortable with PowerShell in Lync, and they have started to realize how much time they can save by using it.”

In addition, the IT team can more easily manage resources through RBAC. “Having the delineation between roles is a tremendous help,” says Oballo. “Before, everything fell on my team because we could not offer any kind of granular access. Now I can create specific roles for certain teams to do very specific things.”

Dell has used the enterprise voice capabilities through Lync Server 2010 to successfully implement its Connected Workplace initiative for approximately 13,000 employees. It expects to see additional productivity and cost benefits as it expands the initiative to the rest of its offices.

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.

For more information about Microsoft Lync Server 2010, go to:

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:

For more information about Dell products and services, call (800) WWW-DELL or visit the website at:

Solution Overview

Organization Size: 108800 employees

Organization Profile

Dell is one of the world’s leading computer manufacturers. Based in Round Rock, Texas, Dell employs more than 100,000 team members globally.

Business Situation

Dell wanted to deploy a communications solution with enterprise voice to support its Connected Workforce initiative. It also wanted a less expensive way to replace aging telephony solutions.


Dell deployed Microsoft Lync Server 2010 to provide enterprise voice capabilities as a flexible communications solution for its agile employees across the organization.


  • Improves collaboration and productivity
  • Controls costs
  • Reduces environmental impact
  • Promotes better work-life balance
  • Eases administrative burden

  • Dell PowerEdge R710 Rack Server

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2010
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2010
  • Microsoft Lync 2010
  • Windows PowerShell

Vertical Industries
  • IT Services
  • High Tech & Electronics

United States

Business Need
Unified Communications

IT Issue
  • Hosted Messaging and Collaboration
  • High Availability