ERP, phones, Citrix, hockey

I'm glad about our telecommunications project is coming to the end. Telephones are something that should Just Be There and Work. The trouble is that actually achieving JBT&W is not always as straightforward as most end users might suppose.

Where on earth has this year gone? It’s October and the hockey season has started. Thankfully, NHL.com’s internet radio service is better than their online store (no, Brandon still hasn’t got a Canadiens jersey).

The various projects I’ve got on the go are rumbling along quite satisfactorily; we’re up to starting user acceptance testing on our JD Edwards install, our TelstraClear/Ericsson migration is up to the bit where we’re rolling out VoIP to the last few locations and our Citrix rollout has reached the stage where it’s almost taking care of itself (almost). I’m definitely seeing light at the end of the tunnel (but I’m sure it’s just the proverbial train coming the other way).

The thing I’m especially glad about is that the telecommunications project is getting to the end. Not that the project has been particularly troublesome – not as IT infrastructure projects go, anyway – it’s just that telephones are something that should Just Be There and Work.

The trouble is that actually achieving JBT&W is not always as straightforward as most end users might suppose. One of the beefs I always had with our previous communications provider was that everybody said: “That’s not my job” rather too readily. No one was prepared to take on the role (and, more importantly, accept the responsibility) of being a prime vendor. That meant it had to be my job to sit in between a bunch of vendors to get anything done. Anytime anything went wrong everyone would take a big leap backwards, stick their left thumbs on their foreheads, point their right index finger at someone else and say: “Not me”.

Maybe I’m an oddball but, although I love deregulation in the telecommunications market, I still want vendors that offer real end-to-end solutions.

Fortunately, someone does get it. When I bleated to TelstraClear about what a pain in the arse telephones were, it introduced us to Ericsson’s local agent, Ericsson Enterprise Systems, and we all sat down and did an end-to-end design. Together. (Yes, just like in the ads.) This experience so filled me with confidence that I even agreed to go to the bleeding edge and do some VoIP stuff. And it all works – so far anyway – but the best thing for me is that I’ve finally found a telecommunications provider who is happy to be a prime vendor. Telecom needs to watch its back – while it’s off trying to forge a beachhead in Australia, TelstraClear is doing a damned good job of addressing its customers’ needs here in New Zealand.

Having said all that, Telecom – or at least bits of Telecom – still get it right. My latest Favourite Thing is my mobile JetStream connection. Regular readers will recall that my previous experiences with CDMA did not exactly enamour me of the technology. GSM is definitely my preferred flavour for phones but for mobile data Telecom has got it nailed.

No wires, useable speeds and reasonable coverage. It’s not cheap, but then neither am I, so the more productive I can be the better. Connecting via our VPN and running up a Citrix desktop means I get all my data and functionality without running up a huge data bill anyway. The latency affects it a little but it’s quite tolerable. Well done, guys.

Swanson is IT manager at W Stevenson & Sons in South Auckland. Send letters for publication to Computerworld Letters.

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