UCB

UCB

Integration of analog devices into a global Skype for Business deployment

Background

UCB (www.ucb.com) is a global biopharmaceutical manufacturing company with over 7,500 employees in 40 countries and headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. UCB focuses primarily on R&D, developing solutions for people living with neurological or immunological diseases. UCB were assisted throughout this project by 1plex (www.1plex.co.uk). The team at 1plex are experts at scoping, designing, implementing and supporting unified communications (UC) solutions based on the industry-leading Skype for Business technologies. In a move to cut costs and increase productivity, UCB decided to introduce Microsoft unified communications (initially Lync and, later on, Skype for Business) in 2010. Initially, just for instant messaging, presence and conferencing, the rollout was completed across all of UCB’s offices in a matter of a few months. The success of the implementation led the company to embark upon a wholesale move to replace its existing telephony infrastructure with Skype for Business, as well. This was naturally a much more demanding undertaking and needed an entirely different level of planning. Not only did individual users’ requirements need to be taken into account, but also connectivity with existing telephony systems, local service providers and emergency services had to be ensured. With expert help from UK-based Microsoft UC experts, 1plex, UCB began their migration with the aim of updating around seven sites per year.

Highlights & Challenges

  • Analog device integration

    Analog device integration

    Integration of large numbers of analog devices

  • Smooth migration

    Smooth migration

    Smooth migration to Skype for Business

  • Connectivity

    Connectivity

    PSTN and SIP trunk connectivity

  • Survivability

    Survivability

    Ensuring branch office survivability

"AudioCodes’ reliable and versatile products have played a major part in the project, giving us the flexibility and scalability we require to ensure that all our voice connectivity needs are met."

Ralph Schepke, Head of User Experience at UCB

Solution

UCB selected AudioCodes Microsoft-certified Mediant platforms to provide SIP and TDM connectivity for its various sites. The modular Mediant 1000 hybrid session border controller (SBC) supports connectivity with existing PBXs and the PSTN. It supports SIP and TDM simultaneously in the same device making it a perfect fit for migration projects such as this one. Even after the migration at a particular site has been completed, the Mediant 1000 continues to have a role connecting Skype for Business users to the outside world via the local PSTN or SIP trunks.

In Microsoft UC environments, the Mediant 1000 can also function as a survivable branch appliance (SBA). UCB deployed the Mediant 1000 SBA, where needed, to ensure uninterrupted voice service even when the connection to the central Skype for Business servers is lost.

UCB also selected the Mediant 2600 SBC where pure SIP connectivity was required between Skype for Business and local SIP trunk services.

At UCB’s main manufacturing site in Braine, Belgium, there was a special requirement to integrate a large number of analog devices into the new infrastructure. These devices included analog common area phones, fax machines, elevator alarms and intercom systems and were located in over twenty different buildings across the campus. Even though the analog devices would not make use of the additional UC functionality offered by Skype for Business, they still needed to be part of the new infrastructure with the ability to make and receive calls. Since many of them were installed for regulatory or safety purposes, this was a critical requirement.

Analog media gateways are not uncommon for this kind of scenario. However, the number of devices that UCB needed supporting meant that many such gateways would need to be deployed, incurring higher operating costs and increasing management overhead.

Fortunately, UCB was able to integrate all its analog devices efficiently and cost-effectively by deploying AudioCodes MediaPack 1288 high density analog media gateway. The MediaPack 1288 supports up to 288 analog ports per chassis, meaning that UCB could cater for all the analog devices at the Braine site using just one gateway. Furthermore, since the MediaPack 1288 uses a standard telco cable connector, no rewiring was needed. As a result, migrating the devices was achieved rapidly and with minimal disruption.

“For UCB, the safety and security of its staff are of paramount importance,” explained Will Talbot of 1plex Limited. “With AudioCodes’ MediaPack 1288, we could be sure that all the company’s critical alarm systems and emergency phones would continue to operate seamlessly within the new Skype for Business setup.”

  • MediaPack 1288

    MediaPack 1288

    The MediaPack 1288 is a best-of-breed high density analog media gateway offering a cost-effective solution for organizations transitioning to All-IP that need to integrate large numbers of analog devices (e.g. legacy phones, fax machines and modems) into their new infrastructure.

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Results

With 1plex’s assistance, UCB has already successfully migrated over half of its sites to Skype for Business enterprise voice services, enabling its legacy systems to be decommissioned along the way. Through the use of AudioCodes’ Microsoft-certified solutions, UCB have benefitted in several ways:

  • Smooth migration from legacy systems thanks to full interoperability with Skype for Business, legacy TDM and SIP platforms
  • Branch resiliency using AudioCodes SBAs
  • Cost-effective and seamless integration of hundreds of analog devices

“We are delighted with how smoothly our migration from legacy telephony to Skype for Business has gone so far,” said Ralph Schepke, Head of User Experience at UCB. “AudioCodes’ reliable and versatile products have played a major part in the project, giving us the flexibility and scalability we require to ensure that all our voice connectivity needs are met.”

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