NASCIO 2014 State IT Recognition Awards

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1 NASCIO 2014 State IT Recognition Awards Ohio Nomination for Enterprise IT Management VOICE IN THE CLOUD - TELEPHONY AS A UTILITY SERVICE Category: Enterprise IT Management Contact: Katrina B. Flory Ohio Department of Administrative Services Office of Information Technology Project Initiation and Completion Dates: June 2012 January 2013

2 Executive Summary Under Governor Kasich s leadership Ohio has launched an IT Optimization initiative that will transform the way Ohio manages its IT infrastructure and delivers IT services. The main objective of IT Optimization is to lower the State s total IT costs and redirect those savings into improved IT services as well as programs and services that directly benefit Ohio citizens and businesses. One of the primary focus areas for IT Optimization is the development and implementation of enterprise shared solutions. Enterprise shared solutions address common technology needs by providing tools and application platforms that promote collaboration, communication and data analysis across multiple agencies. Based upon the recommendation of a multi-agency work group, representing 17 Ohio agencies, one of the enterprise shared solution initiatives is a statewide Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solution. Ohio is replacing its outdated, costly and inefficient Centrex telephone system with VoIP. The VoIP system uses the computer network to digitally transmit calls instead of using analog telephone lines, offering more flexibility. The VoIP service also offers more features than Centrex while still saving Ohio taxpayers money. Some of the new features include: caller ID, call waiting, call history, phone directory, speed dial directory, conference calling, video cameras, a robust reporting system and many other features that will allow for increased collaboration and decreased costs. With VoIP, Ohio can save over $2 million annually in telephone costs. The service is available to all state agencies, boards, and commissions, as well as all public colleges and universities, K-12 schools and local governments. VoIP will help Ohio realize its core IT Optimization goals of increasing efficiency, improving service, reducing complexity and delivering savings. The migration of all state agencies, boards and commissions to the hosted VoIP solution reduces the complexity and added costs of managing multiple phone systems. Also, as adoption of the service increases, the rates decrease, allowing Ohio to realize more savings. Hosted VoIP will allow state agencies to get out of the phone business so they can focus on their primary missions. The service is hosted by Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions (CBTS). It runs from two highly redundant data centers in Ohio. Built into the solution are many groundbreaking items such as all of Ohio being considered a local call (cutting approximately 80% of the state s long distance charges), Accessaphone for the visually or hearing impaired, e911, and the utilization of OARnet, a statewide fiber optic backbone that is used to connect government, schools and universities, for delivery. Over 50 agencies, boards, commissions and universities are benefitting from the solution today, which is over 15,000 users. Progress in Ohio continues with another 10,000 users in the queue for migration to the VoIP solution. 2

3 Business Problem The State of Ohio realizes that it no longer needs to be in the phone business. The dollars spent and resources allocated to maintain a costly and outdated telecommunications infrastructure can be re-allocated and used in support of initiatives that provide direct value to the citizens of Ohio. In direct alignment with the goals of IT Optimization, agencies recognized the need to replace Ohio s outdated Centrex solution with a more modern, flexible solution. The Centrex system was swiftly reaching its end of life and the cost to sustain it would have been too significant to justify ongoing support. In addition, the contract was expiring and would soon need to be re-negotiated. Given these factors, the time was ripe for change. Ohio s workforce is much more mobile and a more modern, collaborative solution is now required to provide services to Ohio citizens. Centrex also lacked important cost predictability, any changes in service were often costly and cumbersome to accomplish and volume buying power was very limited, preventing Ohio from realizing savings. Local calls were billed at.05 cents per call, and Centrex did not offer features such as taking two calls on one phone without significant expense. As a result of the challenges faced with Centrex, Ohio decided to pursue offering Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) as an enterprise shared service. VoIP enables users to make phone calls over data networks such as the Internet. The State envisioned a scalable, modular, cost-effective way to support up to 22,000 initial users, growing to 66,000 users over 5-7 years, and potentially ~200,000 users in a multi-tenancy, multilocation (>100 locations) environment. Solution The Unified Communications (UC) Workgroup, which was comprised of 17 agencies, was commissioned and empowered to research the VoIP opportunity and make recommendations about how the state should proceed. A few of the larger Ohio agencies had already put in their own VoIP systems and had much to share. The UC workgroup met with agencies, vendors and other stakeholders. The group also consulted with Gartner, Norex and other states to understand the landscape as well as how others were approaching their enterprise VoIP implementations. Requirements were gathered from the participating agencies. Using the broad range of business requirements an enterprise requirements document, along with recommendations, was formulated. These recommendations were sent to the Enterprise Technical Architecture Subcommittee and were voted upon and approved and then they were sent to the Multi- Agency CIO Committee to receive final approval. State CIO Stuart Davis asked the CIO of the Department of Health, Bruce Hotte, to lead a team that would produce a Request for Quotation (RFQ) for a statewide unified 3

4 communications solution. This team included members from many agencies, as well as representatives from the state s educational community. The solution sought was based upon the requirements of state agencies as well as local governments, K-12 and state supported institutions of higher education. The final RFQ included many unique items. For example, it asked that a provider host the solution and provide unified communications as a utility service. As part of the solution the state also wanted all of Ohio to be considered a local call, something that would cut the state s long distance bill by approximately 80%. The contract must also allow for tiered pricing that decreased as adoption increased. The solution must be able to be consumed by not only the state, but also K-12, local governments and state supported institutions of higher education in Ohio. The RFQ also stipulated that the basic rate for the solution had to include point-to-point video from video enabled phones. A report published by the Ohio Department of Administrative Services for the State Legislature recommended increased use of video technology to save travel costs and to help make Ohio more efficient, as well as to foster enhanced collaboration. The Results The RFQ was very competitive and in the end Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions (CBTS) was awarded the contract for what is now known as NGTS, Next Generation Telephony Solution. The solution is hosted in two separate data centers, each with two separate connections to Ohio s OARnet backbone for delivery. OARnet is a high speed, 100G fiber optic network that spans the state, connecting educational and government entities and providing services such as Internet access to its subscribers. The solution is highly redundant and redundancy is tested regularly. Routine penetration tests are also conducted. Due to the comprehensive requirements, many additional features were made available in the solution such as the addition of an enterprise license for Accessaphone. Accessaphone is a utility that allows for accommodations for those that are visually or hearing impaired to use the NGTS system. Encryption across the network to the carrier level is available for those with high security or regulatory requirements. Few projects of enterprise scale succeed without a robust project management approach. Each agency assigned a project manager and CBTS assigned project managers to each agency, creating a two in the box scenario. Each agency had a project plan that outlined roles and responsibilities. The smaller boards and commissions leveraged a project manager from the state along with one from CBTS. 4

5 This was crucial to the success of the project for many reasons, not the least of which was network remediation, a very large task. With each agency s network being unique to their mission, the network team did a tremendous job remediating and making each network ready with items such as Quality of Service (QoS) being architected and implemented to support VoIP and video. Another critical part of this very complex project was the communications strategy. Not only were enterprise-wide messages regularly sent out by DAS, but each agency also worked with the VoIP service owner and CBTS to ensure that communications were sent at regular intervals regarding status and migration. A SharePoint site was created that is open to all users and potential users to receive status, documentation, reference materials, savings calculators, technical information, contracts, call center information and more. Updates and user tips are routinely included in the state s internal IT Optimization Weekly Newsletter. The VoIP service owner also attends many leadership meetings to present information to agency CIO s and others to keep them up-to-date. Kickoff meetings are held with agencies and status meetings occur at a regular cadence to eliminate surprises and to ensure success. Ongoing communications are essential to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that expectations are set properly. Significance Through the selection of a cloud based VoIP and unified communications solution, Ohio is able to reduce capital costs for voice infrastructure, cost of upgrades and licensing, time spent on moves, adds, changes or deletes and support, decrease the dependency and cost of VoIP staffing and meet the requirements for data center space. Ohio will also be able to more effectively leverage the current IP network investment, increase the predictability of the monthly cost of telephony, take advantage of cutting-edge technology and speed-up the introduction of new features. In addition to some of the features already mentioned, the chosen solution also provides: Every participating organization access to an extensive call detail reporting system on demand, to manage and report on phone usage. Video phones that allow for up to 4 people to be on a video call at no additional charge. Unified communications features like find-me follow-me, and support for mobile and home-based workers. VoIP phones that are four, eight, or 16 line phones, which eliminates the cost for extra lines or shadow lines. At least 1 free Meeting Place Audio Conference Bridge for every participating organization, and additional bridges can be purchased for $6.61 per month. 5

6 Flexible e911 capabilities using 911 Enable. A secure solution that offers tier three data centers, encryption and full redundancy. SIP to SIP to integrate agencies that already had on premise VoIP solutions. Also of significance is the overall structure of the contract, which through its tiered pricing model allows Ohio to achieve significant savings. Local government, K-12 and state supported institutions of higher education may also join the service, increasing the potential savings and also allowing them to focus on their core missions instead of running phone systems. Ohio s VoIP and Unified Communications solution is in direct alignment with many of NASCIO s State CIO priorities, including: security, consolidation/optimization, cloud services, budget and cost control, mobile services/mobility and shared services. Benefits The cost of Centrex was roughly $18.00 per month, and the NGTS solution starts at $13.00 per month providing an estimated annual cost savings of $2,000,000. This, along with the elimination of the.05 per local call (approximately $1,200,000 annual cost savings) elimination of the Centrex s $100 moves/adds/changes fee and reduced rates for long distance outside of Ohio has meant substantial savings for Ohio. These savings do not include the other local government, K-12 and institutions of higher education that are beginning to participate. With adoption nearing 20,000 users at the time of this write-up, the rate will drop from $13.00 per month to $12.96 per month for all subscribers, meaning the more that adopt, the more Ohio will save. In essence, the state of Ohio has gotten out of the telephone business, choosing to consume telephony as a utility, and allowing more focus on their core mission serving the citizen. With the addition of video, the state s ability to leverage the technology to save taxpayer dollars, as well as to deliver services to citizens and businesses will be greatly enhanced. Many agencies are beginning to install video conferencing rooms based systems in regional offices to enhance operations, reduce travel expenses and increase training opportunities. With the addition of Accessaphone, a VoIP phone can be turned into a TTY terminal, allowing the hearing impaired greater access to services. Video conferencing is already in use to more efficiently deliver counseling services to inmates. Other applications and uses are already being considered as the install base grows. Another direct benefit of VoIP is a more robust, resilient and improved network. While the network had to be upgraded and updated to support VoIP, the outcome is a better network with a more standardized, structured approach that is now capable of supporting many future IT efforts. 6

7 The future looks bright for the VoIP shared service. Not only is adoption spreading throughout the state, but local governments, K-12 and state supported institutions of higher education are beginning to embrace the new hosted service model. The more adoption increases, the greater the savings for Ohio s taxpayers at all levels of government and education. 7

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