International solutions provider, Logicalis, today announced that it has successfully deployed a new communications infrastructure and collaboration suite at Lancaster University. The unified communications (UC) project, inclusive of making video conferencing available to all, is set to enable an integrated communications experience for its 18,500-strong student, staff and researcher base; supporting multi-institutional research projects, a growing overseas student-base and enhancing the day-to-day study environment.
Lancaster University is ranked in the top one percent of universities in the world. Its previous telephony infrastructure, consisting of three separate systems, had become increasingly difficult for IT to manage and the aging hardware wasn’t providing the ‘always-on’ communication it needed to operate as a world-class institution.
Ian Anderson, networking group leader, headed up the project at Lancaster University, he comments: “Multi-institutional collaboration on research projects is becoming increasingly central to the University. This, coupled with our large base of students now working overseas, meant we needed an infrastructure that would enable users to communicate and share information more efficiently regardless of location or time zone. For staff and students based in the UK too, we wanted to offer more flexible working and collaboration day-to-day to enhance study. Working with Logicalis, it was clear that the Cisco UC platform, and the wide range of collaboration tools and features it encompasses, would meet all these needs.”
The solution includes a core telephony system as well as a Cisco Unified Communications platform consisting of voicemail and unified messaging on desk and smartphone soft clients, and web video conferencing. Anderson continues:
“The Cisco Jabber application will be available to all staff and postgraduate students as a soft client on smart devices, to enable round the clock instant messaging and presence as well as voice and video telephony from anywhere, on any device. Getting this in place will be particularly key for post-graduates who often require a lot of mentorship from staff members, at all hours of the day. This will enable them to collaborate more effectively.”
According to Anderson, the project will provide the communications flexibility to enable individuals to choose the tools according to what best suits their working practice: “We’re fairly early on the road to UC nirvana at Lancaster, but believe that by taking the time to get the building blocks right, the benefits will follow smoothly,” he explains.
‘As we move forward, IM will become the norm for quick questions rather than email, reducing inbox overload. For quick meetings, desktop video will replace the requirement to travel the length of campus and book meeting rooms. For researchers, video and desktop sharing for collaborating on papers and interacting with academic partners from across the globe will reduce the need for travel. There’s much to be gained.”
With the voice and unified messaging elements already in place, Anderson and his team are in the process of making the solution available to its 16,000 students and 2,500 staff from over 120 countries worldwide. Anderson explains how he is taking a phased approach to driving-user adoption:
“We’re looking to encourage usage amongst research groups in the first instance, with others following close behind once all solutions are fully installed next year. UC is becoming a critical aspect of our operations, crucial to both our growth as a business and our functioning as a university. The solution from Logicalis has set us on the right tracks for anytime, anywhere learning, enhancing Lancaster’s profile as an enticing place for students to study and for other institutions to partner on research, worldwide.”
Mark Starkey, MD of Logicalis UK comments, “In an increasingly competitive, mobile and geographically dispersed environment, education institutions need to enable collaboration internally and externally to succeed and innovate. Students’ lives today are digital and so expect their communications and studying practices to be the same. Projects like this one at Lancaster will only increase in significance.”
About Lancaster University
Lancaster uses its expertise to shape policy, encourage debate and make a difference to people’s lives. One of a few collegiate universities in the UK, Lancaster is ranked in the top 1% of universities in the world and ranked consistently high for employability and in student satisfaction ratings. Lancaster degrees are taught around the world at campuses in Malaysia, India and Pakistan.
Following the latest research assessment exercise over 90% of the research at Lancaster was found to be world leading or internationally significant with some key areas of research ranked top in the UK. Lancaster is a member of the N8 Group - a research partnership of the top 8 most research intensive universities in the North of England.
For further information please contact:
Zara May/Greg Halse
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