Getting Vertical

Vie de France Relishes Benefits of Hosted IP Communications

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines  |  December 01, 2010

This article originally appeared in the December 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.

Baking is an exact science – adding too much of one ingredient or too little of another can result in culinary disaster. The same might be said about communications.

So when food service company Vie de France experienced uneven communications quality among its multiple locations, it quickly came to the realization that it needed a new recipe to satisfy its requirements. The company ultimately settled on a hosted VoIP solution from iCore Networks.

Vie de France operates a national bakery that makes European-inspired breads, croissants, desserts and pastries that are sold frozen and delivered to the door via various distributors. It also runs restaurants that serve such baked goods, as well as salads, sandwiches and soups.

The company’s problems with its previous communications system included the fact that it had to manage two separate wide area networks, using frame relay and DSL connections, for its manufacturing and retail locations. The company also had nine PBXs, which each had to be managed separately, at 17 locations. It had a multitude of suppliers, including two telecom companies and various local network and telephone gear providers. At the same time, Vie de France was concerned that its 13-year-old system was out of date and as a result might be prone to a system or hardware failure. Plus, it didn’t have the survivability features that would be needed to allow the company to continue operations in the event of a disaster.

The solution from iCore Networks offered Vie de France the opportunity to simplify things and turn over its communications to a single source. Vie de France now has one WAN and one virtual PBX (News - Alert), which is maintained in the cloud by iCore.

As part of the solution, iCore outfitted Vie de France with a new voice over private Internet backbone; a comprehensive disaster recovery/preparedness plan, including the technology and procedures that would allow Vie de France to relocate completely to a disaster recovery center with voice and phone access if needed; and IP telephones from Cisco (News - Alert) Systems.

Four T-1 connections serving the corporate headquarters were replaced with a single 10mbps line that supports both voice and data traffic. The retail cafes, meanwhile, were upgraded from DSL to T-1 lines, which allowed the company to improve the process of ordering and restocking restaurant goods. And the VoPI network improved call quality and increased the number of features available to employees and cafes. It also allows the cafes to process their own credit card transactions securely and offers management intelligence about how the voice network is being used.

Other benefits of the new solution include the ability for the phones to be reprogrammed remotely, the ability for employees to save all voicemails based on project, voicemail-to-e-mail capability, smart routing ofcredit card transactions, the availability of a single company-wide directory, find me/follow me functionality, a streamlined 800 number setup, and faster response times to customer calls.

“Prior to implementation of this new system, all credit card transactions had to be routed through corporate headquarters,” says Stephen Dallas Payne, director of information technology at Vie de France. “Now credit card transactions go through the cloud, which has become the hub that intelligently passes information to the right locations. The cloud also enables standardization and ease of support for all retail sites from a central location.”

Also as a result of the new system, Vie de France will be able to reduce its voice and data costs by more than 31 percent once it reaches its return on investment; lower its teleconferencing costs by 68 percent; decrease its overseas calling costs to headquarters in Japan by more than 90 percent; lessen data line expenses in its manufacturing centers by almost 47 percent; eliminate long-distance charges within the continental U.S. by putting employees on a three-digit dialing plan; and save $2,500 annually after ROI by getting rid of personal pagers.

“Looking ahead, our new VoPI network is only scratching the surface of how much it can change the company,” adds Vie de France’s IT director. “For example, enhanced redundancy/failover for all facilities is now being tested with a wireless interface card and a nationwide provider’s mobile plan to afford high-speed communications at each company location site if something happens to the T-1 private line. This is yet another innovation made possible by this cloud-based solution.”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi