About Gower College
Gower College Swansea is leading education provider in South Wales which offers a range of courses both full time and part time, such as A levels, apprenticeships, vocational studies as well as employment related training. Boasting 9 different sites, the college is experiencing rapid growth and increasingly becoming a reputable and respected college nationally.
Due to the diverse range of courses and students the requirements vary for the college, but ultimately, they sought a solution that allowed them to provide a foundation on which their students could thrive and access top quality technology. The aims of the project were to reduce telecoms costs, improve resilience and obtain the ability to provide staff and students with best in class Unified Communications and collaboration across a wide range of devices. To do this, the College was looking to replace two separate systems; an LG Nortel ipLDK300 at the Gorseinon campus and a Nortel CS1000 at the Tycoch campus as part of a general improvement and modernisation.
“Staff and students now enjoy the most comprehensive and up-to-date UC solution which is delivering significant savings for the college and enabling agile working practices.”
The existing phone system was housed at the front of the main Tycoch site which was to be demolished and rebuilt as part of a building extension and improvement. Because of the aggressive timescales of the building works Gower College Swansea had to very quickly go to tender, select a supplier and then deploy the solution in double-quick time. GCS were very careful to select a provider with a proven track record of delivering similar deployments under challenging time constraints. There was also a major fire in the college the day before Go-Live which posed a real challenge which Gower College and Solar had to work together to overcome.
The solution was a ShoreTel on-premise telephone system comprised of highly available physical appliances, combined with virtualised, software only elements. Together, these components delivered state of the art communication and collaboration capability for staff and students. This solution was also complimented by full on-site project management, implementation, training, out-of-hours-cutover and go-live support. The solution also delivered significant savings by reducing ongoing maintenance and administration costs. In addition to this the college was able to modernise its telephone lines by moving away from costly digital ISDN lines to SIP Trunks with free calls to land lines and mobiles. The college has been very satisfied with the return on investment which this project delivered. The most challenging aspect of the project was a major fire which broke out throughout the college the day before Go-Live.
Both Gower College and Solar reacted very well indeed to the added pressure of a major fire breaking out the day before go-live. John Whitty, CEO at Solar called the Richard Thorn at Gower College and explained that Solar would provide whatever support was needed and left his contact details. The project team made the necessary changes and Solar worked proactively with Gower College in order to establish the extent of the damage and assist them in obtaining the support needed in order to get the project back on track. The staff at Gower College, together with the Solar project team, worked well together in order to ensure that the solution was delivered successfully and on-time, in spite of the most challenging circumstances. Staff and students now enjoy the most comprehensive and up-to-date UC solution which is delivering significant savings for the college and enabling agile working practices.
Solar were selected partly because of their proven track record in the education sector, already having around forty colleges and universities as customers. But also because of the unrivalled simplicity and low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the ShoreTel platform. The College was also impressed by Solar’s approach to Project Management and it was clear that Solar could be entrusted to deliver within very challenging timescales.