Over the last year, we were looking at different solutions to be able to scale with our organization. Last year, we grew the organization about 1000 employees. This upcoming year, 2014, we're looking to grow the organization another thousand employees. Within the organization from a technology perspective, we needed to come up with technology solutions that would scale with our organization.
In the past at ZS Associates, what we've had in place from an IP telephony standpoint was the on-premises Cisco solution that had Call Managers in North America, E.U., and Asia Pacific. Then basically what we did was we went out and all that equipment was becoming end of life, and what we did was we went out and looked at various Cloud-based providers. What we were looking for in a hosted provider was the ability to take our on-premises solution and move it into the cloud along with being able to integrate with our current communication platforms that we had in place.
We migrated from Lotus Notes to Exchange in Outlook in a hosted environment. In addition to that, we moved from our on-premises Cisco IP telephony system to a hosted IP telephony system through West. We did take a look at various vendors in the cloud-based environment for IP telephony, and we took a look at Gartner...was one of our critical decision factors for taking a look at some of the individuals in the Magic Quadrant. Definitely West and their HCS Cisco solution was one of the products that we did take a look at. We did decide to go with West based on the fact that they were able to provide us with a global solution, a scalable solution, allowing us to implement that solution in the U.S., and expand the scalability out to our global landscape throughout the organization.
The West HCS solution basically offered us a lot of flexibility. It offered us various features and functionalities within different packages that we can choose for the organization. It allowed us to implement this based on purchasing it here in the U.S. for our global infrastructure. It enabled us to work with the engineers here in the U.S. to design the infrastructure and how it would integrate with our current MPLS infrastructure within the organization, and also putting together a migration path from our current on-premises solution to the hosted solution.
Basically the features and functionalities, the breadth of knowledge and expertise that West has in this particular area definitely gravitated us towards West over some of the other vendors that we took a look at.
Basically the process to migrate to the HCS solution was very painless. We did notify a lot of our employees that we were migrating our IP telephony solution, but a lot of individuals didn't even realize we were migrating into the cloud.
West did a great job in project managing the IP telephony implementation and the solution from start to finish. Basically they had a project manager assigned to the project and that person worked with us throughout the entire project, and worked with us by having weekly meetings, making sure that that individual got the engineers involved when necessary, and made sure that all the transitions from each of the office migrations went very smoothly.
On a day to day basis, I don't have to worry about the email, the SharePoint, the IP telephony solution that we currently have in place because it's managed by a third-party vendor and it is definitely managed with a lot of talents and the ability to resolve the solution very effectively compared to the on-premises solution.
With our collaboration suite of IP telephony tools, we're able to integrate our IP telephony solution with WebEx along with... We're just starting to use the Jabber client on our IP phones and on our desktop solutions. It's enabled to utilize these technologies in a collaborative way and in a unified way, rather than having multiple individual applications to perform the same functions.
The benefits of us going to the cloud is being able to scale the organization with the technology that we wanted to implement as we added new employees to the organization, to be able to complement our technology personnel that we have on staff currently with a third-party vendor cloud provider to provide that expertise and bring that into the organization. That was very critical, the ability to upgrade our equipment as years went along so that we can be on the latest technologies at a much faster pace than we were able to do on-premises.