HOLD THE PHONE

By Cassandra Van Buren and Calli Peterson, University Information Technology

Over the next three years, University Information Technology will gradually migrate from the legacy Centrex telephone system to the new unified communications Voice over IP (VOIP) system, part of the U’s broad communications platform known as Skype for Business/Lync.

UIT has already begun helping users to transition to the new platform, sending technicians to faculty and staff offices to replace current phones with new multifunction Polycom phone sets. The goal is to transition 5,000 Centrex users to Skype for Business/Lync-capable phones before the end of this fiscal year – June 30, 2016 – followed by 5,000 users per year over the next two fiscal years.

Users can download free companion Skype for Business/Lync software at software.utah.edu to take advantage of the platform’s other features, such as integration with UMail calendars and contacts; web conferencing (live video, voice, document- and screen-sharing); conference calling; and instant messaging (IM). In addition, a free Skype for Business/Lync mobile device app is available from Apple and Google app stores for users to install on smart phones and tablets.

“What we’re trying to do is bring together your email, calendaring, desktop and laptop computer, tablet, desk phone, and smart phone,” said Jim Livingston, Chief Technology Officer for The University of Utah. “Skype for Business/Lync is a key piece that is the glue that brings those together.”

Mark Beekhuizen, director of Information Technology for the S.J. Quinney College of Law, recently led his faculty and staff through the migration process with the support of UIT. Since the transition, the features that Law faculty and staff use most often to collaborate are IM and “presence” (ability to see a colleague’s availability status within the app).

“It’s one of the easiest ways to say, ‘Someone’s available. I need to simply ask them a question,’” Beekhuizen said.

In addition to the presence and IM features, faculty and staff in the College of Law appreciate the conference calling feature.

“It used to be a very arduous process before the [Skype for Business/Lync] service came along,” Beekhuizen said. “I think it’s fantastic compared to what we were using.”

Two upcoming UIT Town Hall meetings will provide the campus community with the latest information about the phone set migration plan and the Skype for Business/Lync platform: Wednesday, March 30, 2016, from 1:30 p.m.-3 p.m. in the North Room of the Ft. Douglas Officers Club and Thursday, April 14, 2016, from 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. in Marriott Library’s Gould Auditorium.

University organizations that wish to learn more about Skype for Business/Lync phones and other features, as well as the migration plan, should call the UIT Help Desk at 801-581-4000 option 2.