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Already in summer 2011, Global IT took the first steps of preparing SAP for UC.

In order to make SAP's employees more agile and productive Global IT enabled everyone @ SAP with Lync.

Today federation to external parties and +8k user enabled with Enterprise Voice make SAP’s employees more powerful than ever – and there is a much more to come in 2013!
Read below how YOU get there too and what you need to consider.

In the last few years Unified Communication (UC) has become more and more important. Gartner defines UC products (equipment, software and services) as those that facilitate the use of multiple enterprise communications methods. UC products integrate communication channels (media), networks and systems, as well as IT business applications and, in some cases, consumer applications and devices.

UC includes six broad communication product areas:

    • Voice and Telephony
    • Conferencing
    • Messaging
    • Presence and IM
    • Clients
    • Communications-Enabled Applications


Project Motivation

The main drivers for implementing a new UC solution at SAP were:

    • The need to replace traditional telephony systems which have become outdated.
    • The necessity to get rid of isolated systems and to standardize the UC solution including the support model in all SAP locations.
    • Increasing demand for solutions to support the mobile workforce.
    • A reduction of the total cost of ownership.

A VoIP backbone enabled infrastructure will replace traditional telephony systems. The infrastructure was decided to be fully managed by an external provider covering backend infrastructure, operation and support. Softphones are the preferred device offering, but hard phones will be available if needed (with the goal to reduce hard phones overall). Further important topics are the integration of mobile or home/hotel/… phones in communication scenarios (Mobility) and the integration in most common desktop applications (Office, click to dial, …) as well.

Decision for Microsoft Lync

Beginning in the summer of 2011, Global IT took the first steps of preparing SAP for UC. In order to define the best option for SAP, a user pilot was launched which compared two market leading UC applications: Cisco’s CUPC and Microsoft Lync.

Based on favorable survey results showing employees preferred Microsoft Lync, consequently the decision was made to implement Microsoft Lync.

Key Features in a nutshell

  • Using the PC to make and receive phone calls.
  • Working outside the office the desk phone follows the employees wherever they are connected (home, a distant office, hotel, etc.).
  • Lync presence shows when a person is engaged on the phone and also presence information for contacts. 
  • Video chat capabilities are enabled up to 8 participants.
  • Instant messaging with Office integration.
  • Application sharing with a colleague or group (up to 8 participants).

Timeline - high-level:

The interim platform now supports more than 8.000 employees. In July 2012, HP was chosen as the official provider for Lync and is also responsible for end user support. First level support is done by SAP IT Help Desk and HP handling 2nd level requests when necessary.
Now we are in the phase of designing/implementing the final Lync 2013 backend with data centers in America and Germany. In parallel, the Migration & Deployment to SAP locations continues with the target to have around 30.000 ports live at the end of 2013 and to finish the project in 2015 with full port coverage.
In general the deployment follows an office by office approach. In cases where the office is large, the deployment will happen as phased approach (starting with voluntary migrations and in time, scheduled migrations). A cutover approach is used for smaller offices.

Best Practices

  • Project needs attention and support from board level up to provide a clear message for the end user.
  • Make user aware of the advantages of the future solution from a user and company perspective.
  • Focus on flexibility (e.g. home offices, travel, open desk, etc.) and workplace attractiveness (ease of use, integration, etc.) and avoid stressing the expected cost savings.
  • Take care of change and expectation management as the user impact is significant for a successful implementation.
  • IP “hard” phones should be offered on user request. Choose high-quality headsets and offer choice for the user. For emergency phones, make sure they work will work in a disaster situation.
  • Decommissioning of the old PBXs is an integral part of the whole project.
  • Keep legal requirements in mind.
  • Ensure highest availability and performance for the Lync backend and the network (WAN and Wi-Fi).