In this months Issue:
By Jon Welch
The State of Vermont’s Telephony Services getting a Facelift
The State of Vermont has partnered with a Cloud services vendor, NWN Corporation, to bring Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services to State government. In February of 2014, the Department of Information and Innovation (DII) started the discussion of transitioning from voice services from an analog technology, known as Centrex, to a more feature rich and versatile voice technology, known as VoIP (pronounced “voyp”). Through a Request for Information, DII was able to review submissions from 13 vendors, enabling the State to validate the possibility of transitioning voice services to a more robust platform. After reviewing the RFI submissions, DII determined that the State was ready. Not only will this bring a more current voice technology to State government, but it will help decrease the costs of voice demand services.
The next phase in the process was for DII to initiate a VoIP Request for Proposal (RFP). Through a 3 month period, DII solicited inputs from technical experts, business leads across the State, and a 3rd party vendor to assist in developing an RFP that would pave the way for selection of the best VoIP solution. After many revisions, the State released the VoIP RFP in December 2014. Sixteen vendors submitted their proposals to the State in late February 2015. Through a grueling scoring process, DII was able to select a vendor VoIP proposal, and contract discussion began in April. The final selection was based on which VoIP solution best supported the State’s voice requirements and business needs, along with giving the State the best opportunity to reduce Telecom demand expenditures.
The VoIP solution selected is a cloud-based Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution delivered to the State by NWN Corporation. The State had to make a decision between hosting the VoIP infrastructure within our data centers or partnering with a company that would host and maintain the infrastructure for us. We decided on the latter. Currently, the State does not manage and/or maintain the voice infrastructure that supports our Centrex lines. This is performed by the Telecom partners we receive Centrex services from today so the most cost effective decision was to not install the VoIP infrastructure on premise. Instead the State decided to partner with a VoIP vendor who has a strong track record of success in VoIP cloud services.
The State officially signed a contract with our vendor partner on 23 July, 2015. Through this VoIP contract, the plan is to migrate voice services to NWN’s private data centers over the next 3 years.
So what does all of this mean for the Agencies, Departments, and voice users across State government? We will be rolling this technology out to the State by location. An email was distributed late July to all Agency Secretaries and Department Commissioners announcing the project and requesting a point of contact, change agent, to be identified from each Agency or Department. DII plans to setup teams to meet with Agencies and Department change agents at each location 60 days prior to transition of voice services. These teams will gather data on how voice services currently support your business needs. Through these efforts we will establish partnerships with the business leads and users at each of the sites. Our goal is to create a seamless migration plan for each deployment. The week following migration to VoIP, DII and NWN will have technicians on site that will support any configuration problems that a user may encounter.
Please visit our project website for more information and to track the project’s progress: http://dii.vermont.gov/news-issues/enterprise-projects/voip
If you have questions please feel free to contact the project team at DII.VOIPProject@vermont.gov.