FSL deploys IP system to enable apps integration

Middle East food supplier Food Specialities Ltd, has gone live with Cisco’s latest IP Telephony system release, ICS 7750 Call manager.

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By  Anna Karhammar Published  January 29, 2004

FSL deploys IP system to enable apps integration |~|Shibu3_m.jpg|~|FUTURE-PROOF: Shibu Varghese of FSL opts for IP technology as it offers advanced features useful to his company and integrates easily with CRM and other service-oriented applications. |~|Middle East food supplier Food Specialities Ltd, has gone live with Cisco’s latest IP Telephony system release, ICS 7750 Call manager. Addressing markets in both the Middle East and North Africa, the company is made up of three divisions; consumer products including the ‘Diamond’ range, a trade agency supplying commodities, and a food ingredients division supplying manufacturers. As the company is expanding and was in need of new telephony system, the decision was made to opt for IP. Shibu Varghese, IT & business process manager of FSL, explains: “One reason we decided on this solution was that IP telephony is catching up around the world, and also the possibility of having a converged network was a factor. That we could manage both data and voice on the one network, and just have one cable for both. Also we were interested in the advanced features available for IP telephony.” “While IP telephony is a relatively new technology, FSL decided to invest in this since we were convinced that this will be the technology of the future. Further we wanted to leverage the advantages of Voice over IP once Etisalat opens this up,” adds FSL’s Executive Director, Mr. Percy Tantra. FSL decided on Cisco after comparison with other IP telephony vendors. One criteria was readily-available IP applications from third party companies such as iGTL, who customised an application for FSL and integrated MS Exchange with the IP system. “We were interested in XML applications through IP, such as Microsoft exchange integrated with the telephony system for the screen-pop feature. As most of the people who call us are known customers that was good feature for us. Also, we are planning to go for a CRM application by the end of the year, so again integration was a major criteria,” says Varghese. The company is also using the Unity unified messaging feature, which allows a voice mail to be read as an e-mail within Outlook. Further considerations when deciding on the Cisco system were support for scalability, 24 hour round the clock global support as well as the reputation and the customer base of the supplier. “Then we also had some technical requirements, such as a secure dialling system, where everyone can make international calls based on the security given to them. We assigned people to different groups, and they would be able to dial a specific number of calls,” says Varghese. “Quality of Service was also important, as IP is packet switched so quality of voice had to be assured over the network. We also wanted to reduced cabling cost,” he adds. ROI was not a consideration for the company, as the decision had already been made to acquire a new telephony system. The difference in total cost of ownership between traditional telephony and IP was the only potential concern, but the firm discovered that there was, in fact, little difference. Apart from the Cisco Call Manager, FSL is also using 3550 switches and the 7960 and 7940 phones. “The features we are using include the XML application interface, and PanCyber’s call accounting software Dial Guard which takes the CDR reporting feature from Cisco. We are also using display-based features on the softphones, and the mobility aspect for easy log in and log out wherever you are in the company,” says Varghese. Any problems during implementation were quickly solved with the help of Cisco task engineers and the 24x7 support service, while Applicom and Mindware were responsible for the actual implementation itself.||**||

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