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Easing Enterprise E911 Management: Outsourced Services a Viable Option


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June 15, 2009

Easing Enterprise E911 Management: Outsourced Services a Viable Option

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

Seeking to save on communications costs, future-proof their infrastructures and tie things like phone calls in with e-mail, faxes and conferencing, more and more enterprises over the next few years are expected to turn toward IP-based phone systems. One research firm reported recently that 31 million voice-focused business IP phones will ship by 2012, led by Cisco, Avaya (News - Alert) and Nortel.

Yet as this economic recession protracts, fueling vendor volatility, many business customers – companies with analog or digital phone lines, for example – are opting to stay where they are for now.
Just last week, in fact, IT market researchers at Redwood City, Calif.-based Dell’ (News - Alert)Oro Group reported that although VoIP penetration will continue to grow this year, demand for IP lines for the PBX (News - Alert) market will – for the first time ever – decline in 2009.
While they’re sitting on the sidelines in that sense, many of those same enterprises find themselves adopting E911, which uses location-based technology to determine the whereabouts of 911 callers, helping emergency responders do their jobs better by saving critical time.
Yet when adopted throughout a large, distributed enterprise that has a legacy PBX, E911 can become highly complex. Maintaining an E911 system can be complicated by legacy PS-ALI accounts and frequent moves, adds and changes, placing an enormous burden on IT and telecom departments who often lack the training or manpower to handle E911’s sensitive and potentially life-saving data.
For that reason, some E911 solution providers offer professional services along with their products to ease enterprise E911 adoption. Consider two examples from RedSky Technologies, Inc., a Chicago-based E911 solutions provider.
The company’s “Application Performance Monitoring,” or “APM (News - Alert)” service assumes that an enterprise is installing a premise-based E911 application like RedSky’s E911 Manager, which works with all PBXs/call servers to track phone movements and monitor for 911 calls.
It’s an effort that requires significant expertise to administer and monitor, particularly as many large enterprises have thousands of phones, and more and more businesses outsource that work to RedSky (News - Alert) through its APM service.
According to Steve Lavin, the company’s vice president of technical services, RedSky’s customer support technicians are so skilled and familiar with the application that they can do in minutes what may take hours for an in-house administrator.
“Our team monitors dozens of instances of E911 Manager daily, checking in to see that all scheduled tasks have run and all connectivity is maintained with all call servers,” Lavin told TMCnet in an interview. “Our service is very cost-effective for enterprises. Rather than the enterprise using their own full-time or multiple part-time people administering the E911 application, RedSky servers as the administrator performing daily monitoring as well as scheduled weekly and monthly tasks.”
RedSky also offers what it calls its “PS-ALI Managed Services,” which is designed to serve enterprises with legacy PBXs whose footprints span several “Local Exchange Carriers,” or “LECs.”
In those instances, an enterprise may have local 911 trunking already established and is managing E911 using PS-ALI accounts that they’ve opened with the LECs. RedSky will assemble a suite of services that will centralize, streamline and automate the process of location changes within the enterprise.
“RedSky will automate the process updating all the LEC ALI databases with new location changes daily and can automate the location update process by integrating with your telecommunications work order system and location databases,” company officials say. “PS-ALI Managed Services allow enterprise to outsource the time-consuming and error-prone process of updating LEC ALI databases. Oftentimes, enterprises are overwhelmed with keeping up with all the moves, adds and changes in a legacy environment and PS-ALI Managed Services is a good way to get this process under control cost-effectively.”

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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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