Chief Technology Officer, Centennial College, Toronto.

Fixing a dysfunctional telephone line has traditionally been as frustrating as trying to hear someone over a crackly, overseas connection. Technology introduced by Avaya Inc. this week aims at making that process as easy as dialing a number.

Dubbed Avaya Remote Managed Services for IP Telephony, the software-based suite monitors interaction between voice and data IP applications on a firm’s network. The idea is to prevent delays and outages before they adversely affect the network and cause calls to be dropped or phone lines to go down.

Tracy Fleming, national IP telephony practice leader for Avaya Canada in Markham, Ont., said the services suite offers network managers a vastly improved way of dealing with user complaints. “The user doesn’t really care about what’s behind the box, as long as when they pick up the phone, they hear a dial tone.” Lan Nguyen>Text

“The traditional (user) definition of why something isn’t working is, ‘I can’t make a phone call,’ or, ‘It sounds bad.’ That’s not very descriptive, and at that point [the network manager doesn’t know where to look].”

In an integrated voice and data world, he said, there could be various reasons why something isn’t functioning – as compared to the early days of telephony, when the phone was connected to the [private branch exchange] through a single wire.

Fleming added that Avaya technicians can take proactive steps to remedy a problem, “up to and including using artificial intelligence in our (Denver) data centre to help us do predictive maintenance and take actions before things get to a point where somebody (complains) they can’t make a phone call.”

One Canadian adopter of the services suite is Toronto’s Centennial College. The post-secondary institution is gradually moving away from its old analogue/digital telephony infrastructure to an IP framework, according to Lan Nguyen, the college’s CTO and top officer for IT innovation and partnerships.

She said the migration may not be completed for another year or two, and meanwhile challenges remain, both from a technology and a monetary perspective.

“With multi-facilities across our campuses, we run into multi infrastructures: one with the new digital/analogue and one with the new IP,” Nguyen said. “The challenge is really due to budgeting and financial pressure in terms of how we can move towards a unified infrastructure and utilize the whole Voice over IP (architecture).”

The end goal on every call at the college, Nguyen said, is to maintain a transparent and seamless service.

“The user doesn’t really care about what’s behind the box, as long as when they pick up the phone, they hear a dial tone. That still remains a challenge, due to (network) and financial capacity.”

The good news for Centennial is that the situation has not resulted in dropped calls or poor call quality.

“Avaya has been very good with working with us in the design and planning for redundancy,” Nguyen said.

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