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Posted: 9/3/2012
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James Watt College College Steams Ahead With a Connected Communications Solution

James Watt College wanted to replace its private branch exchange (PBX) and voicemail infrastructure with a single platform. Its aim was to reduce overall spending on communications, increase productivity of staff, and introduce better ways of working internally and with other organisations. By deploying Microsoft Lync 2010, the college improved its data network and can now provide more reliable connectivity and give users access to voice, presence, and instant messaging.

Business Needs

James Watt College offers a wide range of courses to its 12,000 students. Based on the west coast of Scotland, the college employs 650 staff across four sites, two of which are located an hour from the main campus. With such geographically dispersed campuses, it’s essential to have a reliable and cost-effective communication and collaboration solution.

Following a review of its communications strategy—and with help from IT partner Digital IP—James Watt College decided to adopt Microsoft Lync 2010 rather than replace its existing PBX. This strategy was based on a number of factors, including the cost of replacing the PBX and the additional benefits that Lync 2010 could provide.


Starting in May 2010, Digital IP and James Watt College embarked on the transformation project to replace the college’s telephony network. By deploying Microsoft Unified Communications for presence and instant messaging across all campuses, users were instantly able to see the availability of colleagues without having to call or wait for email responses. This allowed users to acclimatise to the new interface before adding the full functionality.

Using NET media gateways at the two main campuses, the college connected the PBX to the Microsoft Lync 2010 server platform, giving users access to enterprise voice. By using the upstream media gateway configuration, the college started migrating users from the PBX.

The college has offered selected users access to the platform from other locations besides the college campuses using secure virtual private network (VPN)-less connectivity. During winter periods and holidays, managers have been able to work from home and continue to be available on the college network.

Lync 2010 for voice enables communication without any long distance call charges. In addition to providing integrated audio, video, and web conferencing to reduce travel costs, James Watt College has also been able to reduce the cost of calls, compared to its PBX, by £250,000.

John Denny, Head of Service (ICT), James Watt College, says: “We originally planned a linear deployment, but as more people saw what Microsoft Lync 2010 would allow them to do, the demand to be better connected increased.”


Microsoft Lync 2010 has provided a new communications experience for the staff at James Watt College. It gives employees a unified client for presence, instant messaging, collaboration, and online meetings—allowing a greater degree of collaboration across campuses while cutting costs.

Reduced travel costs have been one of the most significant benefits since the deployment of Lync 2010. Due to James Watt College having a number of geographically dispersed locations, senior management incurred significant costs travelling to and from meetings. Now, managers are using Microsoft Lync 2010 extensively for collaboration, online meetings, and video conferencing. This allows them to edit shared documents and collaborate without leaving campus. As a result, the college has cut the cost associated with meetings and senior managers have regained valuable working hours.

James Watt College aims to provide both staff and students with the best technical experience possible. As an educational body, it was able to take advantage of cost-effective licensing for Microsoft Lync 2010, giving it access to the latest technologies while keeping costs down.

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview

Organization Size: 650 employees

Organization Profile

James Watt College is one of Scotland’s most dynamic and progressive colleges, with four campuses located in the west coast of Scotland, 12,000 students, and 650 faculty and staff.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2010
  • Microsoft Lync 2010
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2010
  • Microsoft Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010
  • Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 R2

Vertical Industries
  • Public Sector
  • Education
  • Higher Education

United Kingdom


Digital IP