King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia wanted to provide faculty members, students, and support staff with a comprehensive conferencing and messaging solution using its digital infrastructure. Microsoft recommended
Microsoft Lync 2010 with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. As a result, the university is increasing productivity and better satisfying the needs of a diverse and demanding audience.
KAUST is an international graduate-level research university founded in 2009, with more than 650 students drawn from 100 countries. Based at Thuwal on the Red Sea, the university—which uses English as its teaching language—offers programs in life sciences,
computer science, engineering, and physical sciences.
In common with many other leading universities worldwide, teaching, research, and administrative services at KAUST are increasingly making the most of technology. The IT team was keen to explore unified conferencing options.
Mohamed Abdel-Aal, Computing Infrastructure Manager, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, says: “Our business challenge was that we were using a mixture of Windows and Apple operating systems across the university, which hindered effective
conferencing. We wanted to increase productivity and functionality across the university, while satisfying the needs of faculty and students. We were also incurring high costs on roaming charges for our remote users, especially staff based outside Saudi Arabia.”
The university has multiple hybrid systems for communication. Students were using Google Apps for messaging and collaboration, while support staff and faculty members were working with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 for communication and collaboration. Abdel-Aal
says: “The university has around 3,000 support staff and we felt they would clearly benefit from unified communications tools, including audio, video, and web conferencing. To increase efficiency and meet the needs of our users, we wanted to move to a standardized
system for audio and video conferencing, with instant messaging and presence.”
The university already had a Microsoft Services Enterprise Agreement for low-cost licensing of software with Premier Support. This agreement largely covered the customer’s costs for its migration to Microsoft Lync 2010, as well as an upgrade to Microsoft
Exchange Server 2010.
But the decision to deploy Lync 2010 was not based on cost alone. Easy integration with the Cisco telephony system deployed at the university was a major factor in the choice, helping the university make the most of its existing resources.
Abbas Ali Shaikh, Systems Specialist—Email Services, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, says: “We carried out a complete evaluation of Cisco technology and Lync 2010. And, after a demonstration of Lync 2010, we asked for a proof of concept.”
Mani John, Senior Network Engineer—Telephony, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, says: “Lync 2010 fully integrates with a whole raft of applications, including Cisco CallManager through the Microsoft Unified Communications Open Interoperability
Program. In addition, there was no need for new hardware because the software operates with our existing x86 servers with virtualization.”
Following the success of the pilot program—which involved 150 users in the IT team—the university is planning to extend Lync 2010 in phases, beginning with its 3,000 support staff and then moving on to the faculty and students.
By implementing Lync 2010, the university will enhance the audio and video conferencing tools available to its faculty, students, and support staff. Productivity and collaboration will improve with the enhanced presence features and instant messaging tools.
Shaikh says: “With Lync 2010 fully deployed, we can expect to see a significant decrease in wasted travel time to attend meetings. We’ll also spend less on third-party conferencing solutions in future.”
Microsoft Lync 2010 unified communications features
benefit the university. Improved features for unified communications with integrated audio, video, and web conferencing—plus enhanced size limits for file sharing—made Lync 2010 the logical choice. Abdel-Aal adds: “We successfully
integrated Microsoft Lync 2010 with the Cisco telephony platform without difficulty and in line with our project timeline.”
Remote users share the same technology as colleagues on campus. Shaikh says: “Our remote users in particular feel more integrated with the rest of the university. They no longer incur long-distance phone charges, and now they have integrated
audio, video, and web conferencing features at their fingertips.”
University expects further savings on email traffic and storage. In addition to cutting telephony costs, the university expects to spend less on email traffic and storage, as well as its subscription to third-party conferencing solutions.
Existing agreement covers user licenses. Lync 2010 is available to the university at a fraction of the cost of other vendor solutions. Shaikh says: “User licenses are covered under the existing Microsoft campus agreement
and there are minimal incremental costs for server licenses.”
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