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Small business tries ASPS.

Northshore Paralegal Services in Danvers, Mass., is a small business serving the Boston area with background screening for clients' potential hires and title abstracting for the mortgage industry. Last year, President Ted Lannon took note of a steady news stream of natural and man-made disasters and began feeling a little vulnerable about his company. The heart of his business--files, servers and applications-depended on the smooth and uninterrupted functioning of his software, hardware and physical infrastructure.

He also began to feel too thinly spread. With a seven-person staff, all IT and telecom maintenance and support fell on his shoulders. His answer: outsourcing the service firm's IT and telecom operations.

Lannon kept his office, but started moving his software and hardware maintenance burden out the door to application service providers (ASPs). The primary business ASP he chose was Oracle-based NetSuite. The phone system and service provider was Junction Networks, New York.

Out went the on-premise servers: one with e-mail and authentication; a second for general ledger and accounts payable; and all but one file server. Also off the wall and out the door: the phone system and extensions.

"I wanted to take my business and make it virtuall," says Lannon. "I wanted to do away with office Quickbooks, where everyone had to go through the LAN. I wanted to do away with doing my own authentication. I shifted to the ASP model because I wanted fault tolerance in case of a disaster."

Lannon also wanted to provide his remote employees in Virginia with the same services they could use in the office. Lastly, he wanted to shed full responsibility for server and phone system maintenance without hiring more IT staff.

On the voice side, he exchanged the legacy system for some Polycom IP handsets. He disconnected all but one (for fax) of his service provider lines and replaced them and the existing phone system with Junction Networks' onSIP hosted IP PBX service.

With the DSL disconnected, Lannon now runs both voice and data over his broadband connection, with 10-MB download and 1.5-MB upload speeds. Because phone calls are all routed over IP, and applications are all browser-based, location has become almost irrelevant to his business.

"Not being tied to a physical location is fantastic," he offers. "if a disaster happens, I just work from home and send the insurance guys in to replace my equipment."

His employees can work from home, as well, with broadband, PC and a software or hardware SIP phone. Lannon keeps a redundant drive of the one file server on the premises in a fireproof box. If he ever wants to move his office, he just packs the phones and reconnects to the Internet; the phones register themselves to onSIP and the staff continues working as before.

"Some IP PBX hosts are hardware-software combos, where you plug a box in the office and coordinate between lines and SIP," Lannon explains. "I didn't want another device on my network. All changes should make my operation simpler and not more complex. Also, other companies wanted to charge per seat. Junction Networks basically charges per application and per minute. Paying for circuits was always painful, as well as all those ridiculous little fees."

Business continuity aside, Lannon has gained other benefits from onSIP He now dials his seven extensions by two-digit numbers, including the one in Virginia. He can work at home without missing calls, since onSIP can ring two or more phones at once if they are registered to the same SiP number. He also likes getting voice mails in his e-mail box: "My e-mails hit me at home the same way they do in the office."

What about cost? "It's a significant discount," Lannon says. His monthly service provider bill once was between $400 and $600, he says, while he is spending about $100 now.

For more information from Junction Networks:
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Title Annotation:Voice Networks
Publication:Communications News
Date:May 1, 2008
Previous Article:The advantages of a hosted PBX: the key benefit (besides cost savings) is that the service can send calls virtually anywhere.
Next Article:Rethink data center requirements: midsize organizations should emulate big company solutions on a smaller scale.

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