Witchity benefits from TIM
When Witchity Corporation, Europes leading developer and provider of Internet call management solutions and services, found itself in need of a reliable, flexible and cost effective PC platform to manage its Online Call Manager (OCM) service, it turned to ICS Advent and Brooktrout for the solution.
Recently, Witchity has been actively developing and deploying Internet call management services throughout Europe following a successful introduction in the United Kingdom. These services include OnLine Call Manager, which allows any dial-up Internet subscriber to make and receive telephone calls and manage all of their voice and other communications and messaging activities via a single telephone line, without dropping their Internet connection.
About Witchity´s OCM
OCM, was originally launched by Witchity as a completely subscription-free service for the benefit of the United Kingdom´s on-line community at the start of this year, almost immediately winning the coveted "Most Innovative ISP Product for the Year 2000" award from the European ISP Association for its ingenuity, functionality and range of benefits to both the individual Internet user and to the ISP industry alike.
Witchity´s OCM subscription-free service enables major ISPs such as Freeserve, WOL, Demon and Line One to provide any Internet user with the ability to simultaneously monitor up to ten of their own telephone numbers, whenever they are on the Internet, wherever they might be, receiving immediate notification of who is calling any of those numbers, even if it is the line they are currently blocking for Internet access.
OCM then presents the user with a broad range of options with which to manage each incoming call, in real-time, including transferring the call to their current location on to another fixed line, or to their mobile telephone, or taking the call directly over the Internet on their PC ("VoIP"), without dropping their Internet connection. Alternatively, the user may simply choose to transfer the call to OCM´s inclusive, subscription-free Voice Mail service, or play a range of pre-recorded or personalised messages to the caller.
The whole OCM service is routed to Witchity´s server by the network service provider in each country, for example Redstone Telecom in the UK, which then contacts the customer via carrier leased lines.
Following a highly successful UK market debut, Witchity has been actively pursuing an accelerated pan-European service deployment schedule, working with a single, leading telecommunications and Internet Service Provider partner in each key European territory to ensure that the full benefits of its award-winning OCM service become available throughout Western Europe.
Due to the phenomenal success of OCM, Witchity was put under increasing pressure, both financially and time-wise, to deploy their servers at the rate they were required. As a result, Witchity made the decision to look for a company able to supply, configure and service the hardware and software required.
However, this task was not going to be particularly easy as Neil Haverty, Chief Operations Officer at Witchity explains, "We were looking for more than just a box-shifter to help us with OCM, more of a partner who would care about our customers the way we do and meet our business needs. We wanted the chosen company to assemble and integrate the range of software and hardware we incorporate into the server with ultra reliability, as the equipment is connected into the network switches of national telecom network operators on behalf of the ISP´s and must meet very high quality levels. Also, we didn´t want to worry about new versions of software and whether they would be compatible with our existing hardware."
He continues, "The flexible nature of our business means we also require a company able to provide pan-European installation and support at very short notice to cope with new installations and also additional capacity r
In the search for such a partner, Witchity approached a number of companies including applied computer solutions specialist, ICS Advent and partner Brooktrout.
"Both ICS Advent and Brooktrout stood out from the crowd with their well developed ideas of customer service and support, which is just one reason why we awarded them our business", explains Haverty. "The clincher was the fact that we could be successfully incorporated into ICS Advent´s TIM (Total Integration Management) programme, which exactly mirrored our business needs to provide a solution, not just a product, and that Brooktrout were willing to tailor an existing product to suit our specific requirements and budget."
ICS Advent´s brand new TIM programme, ensures reliability and consistency for Witchity´s computing platforms and dramatically cuts deployment time.
Tom Sloan, ICS Advent Managing Director and Vice President, EMEA, sums up the new initiative, "Essentially TIM is about partnership. We have always worked together with the customer to define the hardware and software requirements for a system, and to understand their applications. This way, the knowledge we gain allows us to support that application much more effectively going forward, culminating in the delivery of business critical platforms that are virtually site ready and we are able to help each other grow."
Firstly, ICS Advent´s initiative provided Witchity with the ability to define and control configuration and consistency for both the system hardware, respective Operating System and software set-up, using a consistent system configuration and parts, therefore improving reliability. Indeed, upon discovering that one particular telephony board manufacturer was proposing an 8 week lead time, ICS approached Brooktrout who had been previously involved with the US implementation for a more timely solution.
Not only were Brooktrout able to offer a faster lead time, but they also suggested replacing two of the original primary rate interface boards with a single board without effecting performance, but reducing costs. In addition, Brooktrout offered to provide a price based on ICS Advent´s US buying power, making further savings and also offered to tailor its product to suit Witchity´s specific requirements by bringing out a Solaris SPARC driver for improved resilience. Brooktrout also offered total product support throughout Europe.
How TIM Works
Essentially, ICS provides a one-stop-shop for managing purchasing and integration, covering operating systems and RAID, chassis build and test, telephony boards and other system components. Indeed, Witchity doesn´t even have to remove the lid to integrate any additional cards or software into the PC platform, which greatly reduces the time the commissioning engineer needs to spend on site.
Furthermore, as ICS Advent is a manufacturer and member of Intel´s Applied Computing Platform Provider (ACPP) programme, it is able to revision control key system elements such as the CPU cards, BIOS and backplanes. For ICS Advent customers such as Witchity, this translates into an effective early warning system. If a forthcoming change affects a customers´ system, timely notification is given to ensure that prior compatibility testing can be performed to ensure a seamless transition to future proposed configurations.
Complete System Integration
The result for Witchity is an effective partnership that enables immediate access to an increased number of systems, as ICS keeps a complete hot standby server group in stock, configured, tested and ready to be shipped with just 24 hours notice. This facility was recently put to the test when a chassis for installation in France was damaged in transit, and Witchity was unable to install the server. Upon hearing about the problem, ICS Advent dispatched two engineers along with a replacement chassis, which arrived the next day and was success
fully changed, tested and installed with the minimum of fuss and downtime.
Haverty comments, "At the height of our activity, we have successfully installed one European country per month, with ICS able to offer quick and reliable turnaround. Also, as ICS provides configuration control, we know that we are getting the same high quality equipment throughout all of our installations.
Steve Johnson, Senior Vice President for Witchity comments, "With the help of ICS Advent and Brooktrout, our systems have been successfully installed and are now on-line in Germany, Netherlands, Spain, France and the UK, with further trials taking place in the Republic of Ireland and imminent plans for most Western and Central European countries. We are tremendously impressed with the way in which ICS Advent and Brooktrout offer service and support on a Pan European scale and care about our business as if it was their own. Indeed, they have an excellent approach to our business needs which has led to a perpetually evolving partnership and potentially new business in the future."