Making Connections: Manufacturer Wilson Hurd Pulls Things Together with Esna Cloudlink

By TMCnet Special Guest
Lee Ho
  |  May 20, 2013

Founded in 1904 in Wisconsin, Wilson Hurd is a leading manufacturer of custom metal nameplates, plastic overlays, POP display components and electronic control products. About a year ago, the company began looking for ways to reduce IT cost levels and support time. Executive leadership reviewed various cloud and virtualization technologies that could help them reach these goals and, as a result, the company decided to move away from using Microsoft Exchange for enterprise e-mail to a more cost-effective Google (News - Alert) Apps solution that included Gmail.

The move to Google Apps was expected to reduce significantly the amount of time Wilson Hurd’s IT department had to spend on maintaining and upgrading their Exchange servers, as well as reducing costs associated with its annual Exchange and Outlook licenses. The only stumbling block was the need to be able to connect Wilson Hurd’s Cisco (News - Alert) Unity Connection solution for unified messaging to Google’s Gmail. The company’s employees were used to the productivity-enhancing benefits of unified messaging and it was important not to lose this capability.

The task of finding out how to make the systems work together fell to Wilson Hurd’s Network Engineer Scott Berg.  Berg talked with both his Google Apps reseller, Cloud Sherpas, and with his Cisco VAR, CDW, and learned that while Cisco did not have a native connection to Google, Esna Technologies (News - Alert) offered a solution that had been proven already within other organizations that required this kind of integration.

Berg began an evaluation of the Esna Cloudlink solution for Cisco and he saw several immediate benefits Cloudlink would offer to Wilson Hurd:

-       seamless, tight integration between Cisco Unity Connection, Cisco CallManager and Google Apps / Gmail;

-       the ability to virtualize the solution onsite, reducing on-premises space and infrastructure needs;

-       easy configuration and installation;

-       a rich feature set including unified messaging, presence, click-to-dial and secure controls; and

-       a highly cost-effective solution as compared to Microsoft (News - Alert) Exchange.

“In addition to these benefits, Esna’s Cloudlink solution offered a number of great unified communications features, like presence and click-to-dial, that we thought our users would grow to like,” said Berg. “The critical thing was, of course, to maintain our integration to Unity Connection and CallManager so we did not lose unified messaging capability.”

Decision made, Berg began to plan the Cloudlink deployment. After an initial call with Esna, he prepared a single, virtual server for implementation. In an abundance of caution, he also asked his Cisco VAR to be available on the day, in case any configuration changes for CallManager were necessary.

“It turned out we didn’t actually need CDW (News - Alert) expertise,” Berg said. “Within an hour we were up and running with all our users. It was far easier than my best expectations – we could have done it over the lunch hour.”

Wilson Hurd employees noticed no difference in service. Moving from an on-premises solution to a hybrid on-premises/web solution had no impact on the user experience. This seamless transition meant no need for user training and no adoption barriers to overcome. Wilson Hurd productivity remained at normal levels. 

 Wilson Hurd takes a simple approach to measuring the value of the Cloudlink solution. A straightforward comparison of the cost of the annual Microsoft Exchange and Outlook licenses vs. the cost of a Google and Esna solution showed immediate savings. 

Other positive cost benefits were simply icing on the cake: reduction in hardware cost and space required, reduction in power use and cooling expense, reduction in maintenance time on equipment and the requisite software. Not to mention the savings in the time necessary to manage users. With Esna’s Cloudlink solution, Berg creates his user e-mail accounts in Unity Connection, and those are automatically federated across Google Apps. 

“I spent more time worrying about planning the initial deployment than I have spent thinking about the product in the almost year since it was installed,” said Berg. “And Esna’s support is top-notch; they are only a phone call away if I ever need them.”

Lee Ho is vice president of marketing for Esna (www.esna.com).

Edited by Stefania Viscusi