Information Technology Systems and Services.
ITSS home


Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students

UMD Phone Systems Migrating to Avaya Aura

Our Nortel telephone systems will reach End-of-Support in 2018. Nortel systems are migrating to the Avaya Aura platform to protect over $1.5 million in current investment.

UMD's telephone and voicemail systems were originally installed in 1992. Over their 23-year lifespan they've had many facelifts. Major events include the introduction of Voice over IP phones (VOIP) in 2007, and the addition of Unified Communications, or the ability to receive voicemail messages on your desktop and email in 2010.

At one time, Nortel systems supported more phones than any other manufacturer worldwide. In 2009, Avaya acquired Nortel through bankruptcy proceedings. Today the market shares by manufacturer look like this.

Pie Chart: Phone Vendors

Text Description: Phone Vendor Pie Chart

ITSS ran a Cisco IP phone pilot project a few years ago. Administration and equipment costs confirmed our original roadmap to migrate to Nortel/Avaya.

Today our systems support a mix of nearly 3000 telephone devices.

  • 1500 digital phones
  • 850 VOIP phones
  • 480 analog lines
  • 160 fax lines

They provide service for the UMD campus and the following remote sites.

  • Glensheen
  • Cloquet Forestry Center
  • Amsoil Arena
  • Duluth Technology Village
  • RICH Center
  • Research Lab Building

Welcome NRRI and CMRL

Over the next few months, Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) and Coleraine Minerals Research Lab (CMRL) will be joining our systems, adding an additional 200 lines. NRRI will receive new UMD phone numbers (4 digit dialing to/from campus to NRRI). Coleraine will retain their existing numbers. Cost savings include the reduction of trunk lines, and maintenance contracts. Another benefit for those sister sites will be the ability to call each other without long distance charges. A new meet-me conference service will replace costly 3rd party conferencing solutions.

Cost Savings

The ITSS PhoneNet team has been researching the Avaya Aura platform for nearly a year. With Aura, we're able to migrate all digital, analog, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) ports at no cost. The Aura software is also free because of our existing Nortel contract. The Nortel phone system and related infrastructure that consumes nearly 600 square feet of space, will gradually be replaced by a set of 9 virtual servers, run on infrastructure we already own. In addition, it preserves investments by allowing us to continue using our Avaya 1120 and 1140 VoIP phones by converting them to Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). Aura also provides new features that can save additional resources.

Phones Anyone?

Many of you have asked why we still have phones on our desks. Many of us have eliminated land lines at home to save money, why not at work?

Aura sets the stage for that next generation of unified communications. Users will have options. You'll still be able to have a desk phone, but another option is to use a "softphone" on your PC or laptop with a USB handset or headset.

Another new feature is called One-X. It allows you, via a free app, to put your office phone on your IOS or Android smartphone. Turn it on and off with the touch of a button when you don't want to receive work related calls. It works with WiFi when available, and cellular when you walk out of the building. Calls should migrate seamlessly so you don't have to call your party back. If your building has poor cell coverage, you can still use your smartphone to make or receive calls via your UMD number and One-X. Every physical phone set we replace with one of these new options saves a minimum of $100 on the initial purchase, and again when we don't have to repair or replace it.

Voicemail will be moving to Avaya Aura Messaging (AAM). AAM has a CallPilot user interface so most of the commands will be the same as today. The way you dial some calls will change but it won't be a big departure from how you make calls today. We'll have more on that when we get closer to rolling the new services out to units.

What's Next?

We'll be rolling Aura out in phases. The phases listed below are required to meet the needs of remodeling projects, and to avoid renewal of some service contracts.

  1. Project kick-off with vendor (April)
  2. Set up VM's, gateways, dial plans, trunking, templates, etc (May)
  3. ITSS moves to Aura (May-early June)
  4. Glensheen moves to Aura (June)
  5. Coleraine moves to Aura (June)
  6. NRRI moves to Aura (July)
  7. Additional units in August and ongoing as schedules permits.

We've also been coordinating with Network and Telephone Services on the Twin Cities campus to set up SIP trunking between campuses. This will eliminate long distance charges for calls between UMD and UMTC. We envision that expanding to all system campus at a later date. We'll provide updates on those efforts in future newsletters.