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Gamma answers the call with Microsoft Teams and CloudUCX

Industry Further Education
Founded 2013

With campuses in Arbroath and Dundee, together with outreach centres in Forfar, Kirriemuir and Montrose, Scotland’s Dundee and Angus College has some 23,000 enrolments, making it one of the largest colleges in the country. It offers more than 1,000 courses in subjects ranging from agriculture and estates, through the sciences and performing arts to zoo animal behaviour and welfare.

With such a wide curriculum the college caters for an equally broad range of students. They include school leavers, those returning to education after a break and those who need to fit study around other commitments. The college is also happy to lead by example. It has set the bold target of leading Scotland’s college sector in achieving net zero climate emissions by 2040 or sooner – a laudable goal echoing events at the 2021 COP26 summit in Glasgow.

“It has been a really good experience. We have a good working relationship with Gamma and they were a really knowledgeable team. They knew exactly when and what they needed to do and they met all the dates that we required them to meet.”

Andy Ross, Head of IT, Dundee and Angus College.

The Challenge

The Covid pandemic of 2020/21 took the world by surprise. Among those to feel the impact most were businesses and academia, suddenly faced with empty buildings and no on-site staff. Dundee and Angus College was no different, but thanks to some quick thinking by Head of IT Andy Ross, the college’s telephony was soon back online.

“When we went into lockdown in March 2020 for a few weeks we were not able to answer the phones properly. Instead we had to manage everything by email, live chat, things like that,” he says. “The phones at that time were difficult to support and did not match our cloud-first strategy. So it made sense to move towards a cloud solution from where we were.”

Originally based on ISDN lines and Cisco Call Manager, the college’s phone system had in 2019 already begun the transition to SIP. Andy Ross and his colleagues worked closely with vendor Gamma and had already delivered real benefits, including ‘pretty significant’ cost savings. But with Teams already deployed for a lot of business functions, the next challenge was adding Teams telephony.

The Results

Andy Ross again approached Gamma whose CloudUCX solution looked ideal. Provided as a cloud-based service, it met the college’s declared cloud-first strategy which aims to move out of on-site data centres entirely and into the cloud. It also met the organisation’s overarching digital strategy which allows its people to use whichever device they want, in whichever way they choose, from wherever they are.

“From the outset we had a good working relationship with Gamma,” says Andy Ross. “It was the confidence factor of them working with so many Public Sector organisations. They’d been through the same process with lots of other organisations like ourselves.”

Gamma’s CloudUCX is a set of cloud solutions, delivered as a service, which enhance the standard Microsoft Teams solution. Crucially CloudUCX adds the all-important ability to make and receive PSTN calls without the extra complication and greater costs and overheads of Microsoft Calling Plan licenses and on-premise equipment.

The Gamma solution has ticked a lot of boxes at Dundee and Angus College as Andy Ross recognises: “There are many organisational objectives that the project with Gamma has helped us meet,” he says.  “At the top level we have an activity-based working strategy that we’ve been building towards for some time, and that is all about allowing people to work in the location and the setting which best suits what they’re going to be doing.”

By being entirely cloud-based and with no dependency on premises hardware, the solution also meets the college’s cloud-first strategy which will see it migrate entirely away from data centres by 2025. This in turn will support the college’s cyber security commitments by increasing resilience through distributing systems and services into the cloud.

According to Andy Ross, ease of use is another benefit to follow the CloudUCX deployment: “From both an end-user perspective and from our technical team’s perspective it’s a very straightforward solution to use and manage, especially for an organisation like ourselves who are heavy users of Microsoft Teams. We use it for just about everything these days

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