UKAEA gains new flexibility with Cinos

07 December 2022

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) carries out fusion energy research on behalf of the UK Government. Its mission is to lead the delivery of sustainable fusion energy.

Fusion energy has great potential to deliver safe, sustainable, low carbon energy for generations to come. Described as the ultimate energy source, it is based on the same processes that power the sun and stars. The UK is leading the way and has a huge opportunity to become a global exporter of fusion technology.

Unrealised cloud benefits

The UKAEA had previously updated its telephony system to transition away from a legacy analogue phone line system, thus it already had a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service in place. However, the organisation was experiencing some challenges realising the full benefits from the cloud service, which was managed by a previous supplier.

Used by all staff across its main site in Culham, South Oxfordshire and remote site in Rotherham, the UKAEA needed a system that could support collaboration, enable staff to work remotely and aid innovation throughout the business.

“The challenge with our previous cloud-based solution was that it wasn’t very flexible. We needed a much more agile service to enable our staff to collaborate more effectively with the hybrid working approach that we implemented during the COVID-19 lockdowns,” said Andrew Hynes, head of CODAS and IT at UKAEA. “Video conferencing and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom are a big part of how we collaborate as an organisation, but we were missing functionality that would allow us to integrate softphones. It was important to unify our services and enable phone lines to be forwarded to mobile devices and computers, while being able to integrate with Microsoft Teams.”

Unified communications

In June 2021, UKAEA awarded a contract to Cinos to deliver a secure, reliable and robust unified communications service. Deploying its Cisco Powered, sovereign UC service based within the Cinos Cloud, Cinos migrated 2,000 users and handsets to the new system across both UKAEA sites.

“Cinos guided us during the implementation and created a very structured process from start to finish,” said Hynes. “As the project was delivered remotely, we set up a Microsoft Teams site to aid the collaboration process and share documents. The technical expertise demonstrated by the Cinos team meant that we were able to easily manage the migration from the previous provider and deliver the project in a timely fashion. With a lot of careful planning and testing, it was seamless.”

In line with UKAEA’s requirements and as part of the implementation process, Cinos rolled out Cisco Jabber softphones to enable integration with Microsoft Teams. This allows landline or mobile phone calls to be made and taken through the application, functionality that wasn’t available previously. It introduced the reliability and robustness of Cinos’ telephony services to Microsoft Teams.

“It was really important to us that the new solution would enable us to integrate Cisco telephony with Microsoft Teams and unify our services,” said Hynes. “Cisco Jabber has given us the best of both worlds as our staff are now using Jabber more than they are their desk phones, so the level of engagement has been high.”

Maximising functionality

Working in partnership with Cinos, UKAEA has been able to maximise functionality and put in place a flexible UC system that is robust and enables collaboration as well as giving the organisation room to grow and innovate in the future.

Being able to access the system at all times has provided UKAEA with a trusted platform for uninterrupted communications. Benefitting from Cinos’ expertise in full resilience and critical communications solutions, UKAEA also deployed a built-in internal emergency line, instilling confidence that emergency calls would be routed quickly and efficiently.

By utilising Cisco Jabber, telephone services were unified under one solution giving increased control, allowing users to select a device of choice to answer calls on. This ability complemented flexible working, providing access to the system irrespective of geographical location. Moreover, as a result of being able to reroute calls between devices, UKAEA was able to retain its existing investment in handsets, without the need to purchase additional devices and therefore avoiding additional costs.

“The support that we’ve received from Cinos throughout and post go-live has been fantastic. Not only did they almost immediately answer any queries we may have had, they also took ownership and responsibility of any communication with our previous supplier. This meant the implementation was seamless and ensured that we felt confident throughout the process,” said Hynes.