Campus phone system migration to Cisco Unified Communications complete

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Lehigh University Cisco Unified Communications

In 2016, Library and Technology Services (LTS) embarked on the journey to modernize Lehigh’s voice services by replacing the near end of life Pointspan telephone system with next generation Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Traditional phone systems have served the university well over the past few decades, but new approaches for telecommunications call for running voice services over the network. Dedicated servers, hardware and wiring have given way to an application running on Linux virtual machines with communications transported over the network. The dramatic shift in architecture and technologies presented several challenges for the telecommunications team.

The Pointspan PBX system consisted of 5,000+ end points such as user phones, emergency phones, faxes, and point of sale systems. Also part of the voice architecture is integration with voicemail services, e911 system, and connectivity to our voice carrier. This massive undertaking would not have been possible without support from other teams within LTS and various individuals throughout the university.

Key milestones include:

  • Vendor selection process, negotiations, and final contract.
  • Cisco Unified Communications system installation and connectivity with our new voice carrier.
  • Migration of all Direct Inward Dial (DID), phone number extensions, to new carrier.
  • Upgraded e911 system to support VoIP.
  • Implementation of analog gateways to support devices that can’t be migrated to VoIP, such as currently deployed emergency blue light phones.
  • Implementation of auto-attendant and directory handler on the main Lehigh University campus number.
  • Implementation of Automated Call Distribution (ACD) system for departments requiring special handling of phone calls.
  • Migration of 5,000+ phones, about 20% of which were discovered to no longer be required so were disconnected.
  • A number of department contacts throughout the university assisted LTS with performing audits for phone lines to determine if they were still required, and identified the models of phones that were best suited for individuals within the departments. Without assistance from these individuals, this migration would have not gone as smoothly. While we did have staff assigned to assist users during the migration, many users were able to set up their phones themselves allowing for us to meet our deadlines.

What’s next for the telecommunications team? Before the end of 2019, the team will begin the process of decommissioning the old system in the data center, properly disposing of the old equipment, and removing old wiring infrastructure. In 2020, they will work with other LTS staff to implement a new billing system, and will evaluate advanced features for deployment on our new VoIP platform.

Congratulations to the Telecommunications and Network Infrastructure team, in particular, Lizanne Hurst, David Jones, and Brian Posivak.