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Case Study: Nonprofit Solves SIP Trunking-Microsoft OCS Incompatibility

Northern Michigan Substance Abuse Services Inc. (NMSAS) coordinates and oversees the delivery of substance abuse services for 30 counties in that state. The nonprofit organization serves nearly 8,000 clients a year, providing them with inpatient and outpatient care, innovative programs and extensive work with substance abuse treatment providers and community partners to expand the capacity of the service system to meet the needs of clients with both substance use and mental health disorders.

Challenge:

NMSAS wanted to leverage the cost-saving opportunities available with SIP trunking, a powerful way for businesses to adopt VoIP. What makes SIP trunking so attractive is that SIP trunks are relatively simple to install and the return on investment with SIP trunking is very fast.  Traditionally, SIP trunking installations achieve ROI in six to nine months.

The challenge for NMSAS was with their existing PBX, Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007. Microsoft OCS 2007 utilizes TCP/IP, which is one of the core protocols used in unified communications (UC) and allows for the reliable, ordered transmission of data.

SIP trunking service providers, however, generally use UDP (User Datagram Protocol) because it consumes less bandwidth. The inherent incompatibility meant that, for NMSAS, they would need to either purchase an entire new SIP-based PBX or abandon the idea of deploying SIP trunks.

Solution:

NMSAS deployed the SIParator from Ingate Systems AB.

SIParators SIP Trunking Software module works hand-in-hand with the SIP trunking service from BBTelsys and NMSAS existing Microsoft OCS. This solution provided a seamless format conversion of TCP/IP to UDP and did so in a way that preserved the security of the voice traffic that would cross the SIP trunks.

The SIParator is an enterprise session border controller that enables SIP trunking by resolving Network Address Translation (NAT) traversal of SIP traffic.  Working with the SIP Trunking Software module, it also normalizes the SIP signaling between the IP PBX, which in this case was the Microsoft OCS server, and the BBTelsys service solving interoperability issues. The SIParator also secures VoIP calls made over the SIP trunk.

The BBTelsys and Ingate solution also addressed some advanced dialing requirements NMSAS needed to provide their clients with unparalleled privacy and security.
 
As a substance abuse services facility, NMSAS offers counseling for clients over the phone. These clients are oftentimes at work; most require absolute privacy about their relationship with NMSAS.  NMSAS needed to make sure that, when they called clients, the caller ID display would come up as anonymous.  Additionally, NMSAS wanted the flexibility of making calls without this anonymous option.
  
Ingate developed a simple dial plan solution harking back to the days of traditional wireline telephony.  When calling a client, NMSAS workers need only dial 8 and then the phone number for the system to display an anonymous caller ID.  Regular business-related calls, where an anonymous caller ID is not necessary, are preceded by a 9.

Results:

NMSAS already has seen a significant drop in their phone bills, saving an estimated 40-50 percent with just 20 users on the system. NMSAS expects to roll out the SIP trunk solution throughout their network in 30 counties in Michigan, to all 200-plus users, shortly.  When they do, they look forward to seeing up to a 60 percent reduction in costs.

This solution really saved the day for us, said Paul Mercier, IT Administrator, NMSAS. We needed to leverage SIP trunks to reduce costs, and they had to work with our existing Microsoft OCS investment. The BBTelsys-Ingate implementation was able to make it all happen for us, very easily, and delivered advanced features that help us serve our clients better.


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