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Oxford Launches Multi-Year Communications Upgrade

Even that doyenne of tradition, Oxford University, needs to stay on top of the technology demands of its students and staff. The UK-based university recently launched a three-year project to upgrade its communication infrastructure. The institution will be working with Unify, a services firm formerly known as Siemens Enterprise Communications.

"Chorus," the new university communications system, will:

  • Enable users to communicate across any kind of device;
  • Provide integrated features such as instant messaging, display of presence and video; and
  • Allow for integration with other communications technologies including voice, video, email and calendaring.

During the course of the initiative, Oxford will replace its legacy telephone exchanges with Unify's OpenScape applications, including Voice and Unified Communications. The colleges will also use Unify's managed services for help desk support and continuity of operations.

The rollout begins in December and will include deployment of collaboration services to a pilot group of staff and students. During that phase, the company will provide change management to build awareness for the new installation and help users learn how to integrate the services into their activities, including class work.

Eventually, the deployment will encompass 40,000 students and staff members and support about 100,000 devices across 38 self-governing colleges. Support for the current telecommunications system, initially installed in 1986, will be withdrawn by 2017.

"Ultimately, improved communication technology that enables our staff and students to fully embrace BYOD, new ways of working and collaborating, whilst still remaining reliable and scalable, is a core component of our future success," said Darrell Sturley, deputy CIO and sponsor for the project. "From the outset, Unify proved that the OpenScape portfolio would provide our staff and students with the rich user experience they are demanding. At the same time, Unify demonstrated that it understood the education and commercial environment we operate in."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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