What's happening? What is this renewal project all about?
Put simply, the telephony renewal project aims to replace Rhodes' ageing analogue PBX with a modern, up-to-date IP telephone system.
For the last eleven years Rhodes has been making use of a Philips PBX system for its internal telephony needs. This PBX replaced a previous, second-hand Siemens system and was originally intended to service about five hundred extensions on campus.
Over the years the system has grown in an ad-hoc way to meet the changing demands of the University. It currently services roughly 1,300 extensions campus-wide.
About two years ago, it became apparent that the current PBX system was both aging and expensive to maintain. This realisation served as a catalyst, and the Information Technology Division actively started investigating ways to replace it.
During the course of 2009 initial plans for a replacement were tabled at the Information Technology Steering Committee. With their blessing, a capital budget request for about R5million was put forward to the Finance Division to fund this project and this request was approved as part of the 2010 budget process. There are major long term cost reductions associated with the proposal, and these were part of the reason the project was granted funding.
The early part of 2010 saw the Information Technology Division initiate a formal process to select a replacement for the PBX system. A number of vendors were investigated, and two — NEC-Philips (the incumbent, represented by GjimaAst) and Avaya/Nortel (represented by Business Connexion) — were short-listed and their local agents were asked to submit detailed proposals. After a number of consultations and refinements, both suppliers submitted proposals meeting a common set of criteria. A comprehensive evaluation of their proposed solutions took place within the IT Division, and one of the suppliers/vendors was finally selected towards the end of May.
Out of respect to the two suppliers involved, the details of these evaluations will not be published or made generally available within the University. However, the full evaluation was presented to the Finance & General Purposes Committee in June 2010. Their recommendation was subsequently forwarded to Council for final approval.