Flatten, consolidate and extend, or “FCE,” long the watchwords of contact center professionals, has emerged as a key focus for enterprise telecom managers, thanks to efficiencies made possible by IP communications technology.
Coined by Avaya (News
) several years ago, FCE first involves “flattening” a network – or compressing a three-tier model of routing into a single layer. “Consolidation” refers to applications, servers and management, so that any telephone that sits in any location essentially becomes part of a larger telephone system. And to “extend” means to eliminate problems that come with distance, nation or organization through extending applications and operations – essentially letting anyone with a phone become part of an enterprise, whether they’re at a regional office, headquarters, home office or telecommuting.
One critical issue that emerges as companies pursue FCE is enhanced 911, or “E911,” a secure
technology that uses location-based services to pinpoint the whereabouts of distressed 911 callers, often saving critical emergency response time.
As the FCE model continues to gain momentum – with more and more multi-site enterprises centralizing their network traffic, including voice, data and video, into data centers – E911 becomes even more important.
Clearly, E911 – legislation for which is being adopted by more and more states
– must be kept in mind with FCE, since emergency calls must be handled smoothly.
Hosted services, such as those offered by one Chicago-based E911 solutions provider, RedSky Technologies
, are available for companies pursuing FCE and can help support the trend.
Nick Maier, RedSky’s (News
) senior vice president told TMCnet that consolidating 911 calls over SIP trunks can save time, not to mention lives. Maier referred specifically to RedSky’s “E911 Anywhere Hosted
” solution. Like many Software-as-a-Service-based offerings, the RedSky hosted solution is a monthly service, offered through a Web portal that gives administrators the flexibility to move, add and change phones and locations.
“Because E911 Anywhere Hosted consolidates all 911 calls through a central point, local ISDN PRI and CAMA 911 trunks for 911 calls at each local site can be eliminated,” said Maier, pictured left. “E911 Anywhere Hosted also eliminates the need for local LEC ALI Gateway (News
) accounts. Since ALI records are stored at a VoIP Positioning Center or “VPC” t instead of with their local LEC, enterprises no longer need to sign contracts with the LEC for PS-ALI accounts.”
Maier also said that E911 Anywhere Hosted’s method of storing ALI records at the VPC also means enterprises no longer need to pay monthly LEC charges for storage.
“Typically, LECs charge seven to 10 cents per month for every ALI record they store in their database,” Maier said.
So the solution is designed to save not only lives, but money, as well.
And that also falls in line with FCE, which saves money in a few major ways – starting with the fact that enterprises – by consolidating data centers into one, central location – don’t need to have servers and applications physically living at each individual site.
That way, businesses avoid charges that come with transferring calls back and forth over the public switched telephone network, or “PSTN.” They also don’t need to install network pre-route applications – which otherwise would be used to determine which particular location should handle an incoming call.
Like RedSky’s hosted E911 solution, the FCE model applies to all types of multi-site businesses seeking to preserve the identity of individual branch offices while reducing the amount of infrastructure that their enterprise requires, as a whole, in order to communicate.
E911 is one of several issues that must be addressed as businesses pursue FCE, RedSky officials say. Other issues cited include dial plans, MPLS networks, IP network regions, UDP (News
) plans, announcements, consolidating CMS data, long-distance vendors and voice portals.
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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