University to replace voice mail system

by Sean Madigan

With more than 28,000 lines and 19,000 voice mail boxes, the University’s phone system can’t afford any Y2K hang-ups.
By the end of June, the University will spend almost $1.5 million to implement a new voice mail system, replacing the current system that is just five years old.
The current system, manufactured by Boston Technologies, cost $1.2 million and was originally thought to be Y2K compliant.
But replacing the system became one of the top priorities of the University’s Y2K Initiative program about nine months ago when officials learned the system would have software problems.
The University’s millennium program has a list of more than 400 high priority items.
“We try to use a risk-based approach to identify the highest-risk items, knowing we won’t get every spreadsheet on every PC,” said Ken Hanna, the program’s director. “The University voice mail system was one of those high-risk priorities.”
When the current system was purchased five years ago, hype surrounding the approaching millennium was low and knowledge was limited.
“Nobody knew anything five years ago,” Hanna said. “People were thinking about mainframe issues, not telephone systems.”
The new system, provided by Call Technologies Inc., will function much like the current one, said Carolyn Parnell, director of Networking and Telecommunication Services.
“Since the new system is predominately a software system, Call Technologies has agreed to mimic the old system button pushes and prompts,” said John Miller, associate director of the Office of Information Technology. “Users should see little, if any, differences in usage after the system is implemented.”
However, Miller said the new system offers a few advanced features, including the ability to send and retrieve messages from a computer or fax machine.
Once the system is in place, users will be given default passwords. After logging into the system, users will be able to change their passwords and set up new accounts. Phones and phone numbers will not change.
A temporary number will be in place a month after the switch for University patrons to retrieve messages from the old system.
Although Y2K compliance was necessary, it was not the sole impetus for the switch. Miller said the current system was fully depreciated and upgrade costs were not economically viable.