After two years of planning and implementation, officials at Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services have announced the successful switch to a campuswide computer-based unified communications system.
"It's been a long haul and a lot of work, but the switch has been made and the system is up and running," said Greg Gulick, the director of application services at CITES.
The $4.8 million switch to the Microsoft Lync software eliminated 10,600 phone landlines and is expected to save the campus an estimated $3 million annually.
The UC @ Illinois (Unified Communications) program consolidates voice, email and calendar functions, while adding instant messaging and videoconferencing capabilities.
"This new system will give us added tools to further our mission of learning, discovery and engagement," he said.
Gulick said the switchover to a unified communications system has not been without complications. He praised the patience of campus users, department information technology leaders and telecommunications coordinators, who all were integral in fixing general system problems prior to the campus rollout during a test period that started last year.
"It's not always easy to adapt to a new system, but we've had great participation from campus in getting this implemented," he said. "We want to thank everyone for their time, patience and partnership throughout this whole project."
He also thanked CITES employees for their extra effort during the switch.
"They have really gone the extra mile to implement the system, working many late hours to ensure everyone understands the process and the system is working as it should," he said.
One early glitch discovered during testing was that the locational element of the university's E-911 service wasn't compatible with the local emergency dispatch system. He said employees worked tirelessly with campus Public Safety and Metcad until a solution was found.
"Now it's working and you likely won't notice any difference from the old, landline-based system," he said. "When you call 911, the system will receive location information."
He said officials are still awaiting word for how to dispose of or recycle the old phones. In the meantime units are asked to store the phones until a disposal program is developed.
Gulick said CITES managers will continue monitoring the performance of the new system to ensure it's working as it was designed.
And they are urging anyone with complications to call for help so that solutions can be quickly identified and implemented.
"We're encouraging anyone who is experiencing problems with the new system to contact us," he said. "We want it to work for everyone, no exceptions."
Problems may be reported by emailing the CITES Help Desk or calling 217-244-7000.