• Communication Solutions

ALLOCLOUD AND PANASONIC CONVERT CATHOLIC SCHOOLS TO CLOUD TELEPHONY

Belgian French-speaking Catholic schools convert to cloud telephony by AllOCloud and Panasonic partnership.

The partnership with Panasonic was therefore a real ‘differentiator'

Jacques Gripekoven, CEO of ALLOcloud.

Challenge

To upgrade telephony systems in French speaking Catholic schools in Belgium to allow for high quality, reliable communication, adapted across different locations.

Solution

Panasonic’s IP Phones offered an affordable, yet fast resolution to the telecommunication system. The only requirements are a network connection at both ends, and a matching codec to enable communication.


ALLOCloud, a young technology company outside Brussels, offers advanced cloud solutions for telephony, partnered with a diverse clientele. With Panasonic, they have recently implemented a framework agreement for 700 French-speaking Catholic schools to switch to cloud telephony.

ALLOCloud and its 26 specialists have a great deal of experience in all areas, working in a flexible and customer orientation fashion from corner shops to large businesses, and the healthcare sector.  As one of the independent market leaders in VoIP and partnership solutions, the company invests in strategic partnerships. One such successful partnership is with Panasonic Business; together they won a tender for the Sécretariat Général de l’Enseignement Catholique or Wallonian General Secretariat of Catholic Education (SeGEC). This was a framework agreement for 700 French-speaking Catholic schools that are likely to switch to cloud telephony.

The French-speaking Catholic schools represent one of the education networks in Belgium. For a few years they have been assisted by the central purchasing organisation SeGEC which deals exclusively with public tenders. For example, electricity, water, heating oil, photocopiers and in recent years, telephony. The schools are required to issue a tender every four years.


"We won this European tender half way through 2017," says Jacques Gripekoven, CEO of ALLOcloud. “About two years ago we moved from the longlist to the shortlist with three others. All of them were relatively young telecoms companies who left the traditional telecoms parties in their wake.”

The partnership with Panasonic was therefore a real ‘differentiator’.

“One of the requirements for taking part in the project was a minimum turnover. This was one of the reasons that we entered into a strategic partnership with Panasonic. Their hardware was a perfect match for our platform. Just as important was the good click with the management at Panasonic and the excellent contacts with their engineers in Europe and Japan"

"After we got the confirmation of the obvious commitment from Panasonic, we stopped looking for alternative partners. The deal was concluded after a successful pilot in six different schools.”

In the traditional architecture, every school had its own telephone switchboard, its own telephones and its own lines to a phone network.


Gripekoven adds,  “In contrast, our methods are very modern. There are no physical switchboards and phone lines; our virtual switchboard operates in the cloud. Everything is done via the internet, and in the school itself there are only Panasonic IP phones. As soon as these are plugged in, they automatically configure with our platform.The platform operates simply, because the user is not required to programme the device at all. That was a major criterion of the tender. Price was another. The Panasonic devices have a very good price/quality ratio. The partnership with Panasonic was therefore a real ‘differentiator’. Some of the other parties probably chose more expensive devices.”

 


“As a telecoms company you have to be flexible with VoIP, especially in school environments. There are schools with ten users, and there are also some with a few hundred of users. One user sits in one building, the others are spread across several locations. Some are wired, some are not. Some schools are settled in new buildings and some are in old abbeys with thick walls. Navigating between all these specific cases is a complex task. ALLOcloud designs solutions to meet the demands of the customer. We install conventional landline phones, but we can also provide wireless IP devices.”

“Another success factor is that we work on a provider-neutral basis. We use the existing internet connection of the school.  There’s no need for a costly change in provider. And the icing on the cake is that we can deliver our services and devices to all indirect connections. For example, loudspeakers in the corridors or classrooms, flashers for noisy areas and emergency and panic buttons that all work according to the SIP protocol,” says Gripekoven. “That’s why they call us an ‘over the top player’.”

“Schools can choose between three installation options. First, there is the ‘Do nothing’ scenario. We do everything and the school does nothing. On the other hand we also have the ‘Do it yourself’ version. The school takes care of the whole installation at a convenient time for them. In that case we only offer a training programme for half a day where people (often with an IT background or an affinity with technologies) are trained to do everything themselves. Between these two options is the ‘Plug it yourself’ version. In this model, we prepare all configurations in the cloud, then the devices are plugged in on site by the school staff themselves. For SeGEC, these different scenarios offered a real advantage. Schools can then choose their most suitable package. Of the seventy schools that now work with us, 80% chose the Do-it-yourself version. They can then make any adjustments themselves, which obviously makes a huge difference in terms of costs.”

"...easy for users to switch from regular telephony to VoIP!"

“We replaced five phone switchboards with one virtual ALLOcloud switchboard,”says Benoît Frix, chief supervisor at Haute Ecole Don Bosco in Liège. “We chose the ‘Do it yourself’ option which gives us all the flexibility we need.  It takes a few minutes to add a new user and device via a web portal.  The savings in the first year were consistent: about €6,000. And that was just for the main building! Our phone costs were reduced threefold thanks to the intervention of ALLOcloud.”

Panasonic has a long history in traditional business telephony. “Their new IP phones generation that we use in this project are very user-friendly and clearly make allowances for people who are used to the old way of phoning," says Gripekoven.  “Phones from other manufacturers are also very ingenious, but they are designed by IT people. In contrast, the user philosophy behind Panasonic devices is the same as for traditional telephony. That makes it very easy for users to switch from regular telephony to VoIP!”