Case Study: SAP Making Change to VoIP

By Suzanne Crow

SAP AG, the world’s leading provider of business software solutions, aims to migrate its global TDM voice communications to an IP-based (Internet Protocol based) platform in a practical, stepwise manner. Just as its own software offerings enable greater collaboration, SAP wants the same for its employees–60 percent of whom are either mobile or working remotely.

In addition, its IT group wanted to cut the company’s trunking costs, ease the administrative burden of its TDM network, and realize greater productivity in helpdesk/support center pilots of IP telephony. For the latter, it has deployed the HiPath ProCenter Advanced contact center application and optiPoint IP telephones. SAP has already realized a 50 percent reduction in its inter-site toll charges using IP trunking plus a 50 percent cut in administrative overhead with the HiPath platform’s centralized, simplified administration.

The Challenge: Boost Collaboration and Productivity Across a Mobile Workforce While Saving Costs and Overhead

SAP employs over 30,000 people in more than 50 countries. As a software company whose products provide the operating backbones for medium-to-large enterprises worldwide, its business is necessarily both knowledge-intensive and consultative. At the same time, SAP needs to be highly competitive and cost-conscious. As such, collaboration and productivity among employees are critical success factors. However, with 60 percent of its employees being mobile or remote workers, delivering on those factors can be a challenge.

SAP saw the IP platform as a way to help employees be “connected anywhere they are,” said Patrick Montone, a system implementation specialist for SAP’s Enterprise Telecom Services group. “Whereas TDM’s circuit-switched, connection-orientation makes it more difficult for us to help keep our remote and mobile employees tied into the business, IP is connectionless and gives us a lot more options today as well as opportunities for deploying future IP-enabled applications.”

The Solution: Hybrid TDM-IP Architecture

The company works in three network environments: TDM circuit-switched, IP-packet, and a mixed environment using both technologies. Of the other IP-based platforms evaluated, Montone said the hybrid TDM-IP architecture of the Siemens HiPath Real-Time IP System offered SAP a better choice due to its simplified configuration and management, superior toolset, and overall clarity of its future development roadmap.

With the HiPath platform, they could gain a good measure of cost-savings and centralized management productivity gains from its IP capabilities. At the same time, they could continue using TDM until they are ready to migrate its user base in a prudent, carefully orchestrated manner to minimize any risk of communication failures and business interruptions.

For SAP employees’ desktop devices, SAP

The Results: Fifty Percent Reduction in Toll Charges, Plus a 33% Gain in Administrator Productivity

Montone explained that because SAP’s global migration to IP is in its early stages and will take several years to complete, the company has only begun to deploy the many IP-enabled features of the HiPath system and the HiPath Xpressions and HiPath ProCenter Advanced applications. Nonetheless, he noted impressive gains already. One area that has saved SAP money is the elimination of toll-charges among its U.S. sites and between those and its global headquarters in Walldorf, Germany. “We’ve been able to cut our toll-charges by 50 percent right off the bat,” Montone said.

In administration of SAP’s U.S. telecommunications services, Montone estimates his team has already experienced a 33% gain in productivity time that has allowed them to refocus their energies and deliver on other important projects. “The HiPath Manager administrative toolset lets us centrally manage all the endpoints served by HiPath systems located in five different U.S. locations through a Web interface over our intranet,” he said.

“We are extremely satisfied with the gains we’ve already realized with the Siemens solutions,” Montone said. “Our game plan is to migrate to all-IP when we’re ready to do so and the HiPath platform and applications clearly give us the flexibility and plenty of options to go at our own pace. What’s great is knowing we have many more capabilities yet to exploit and have received so many benefits already.”

Suzanne Crow is Director of Strategic Communications at Siemens Communications, Inc.

[From Connection Magazine June 2005]

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