District association of the German Red Cross relies on Auerswald IP telephones
Telephony solutions for aid organisations must be expanded quickly and easily. The DRK district association, Märkisch-Oder-Havel-Spree e.V., relies on Auerswald. The IP telephones from the North German manufacturer are an ideal match for the software-based Swyx telephone systems, are standard with the DRK there and are maintained by the contractual partner D&T Internet as a hosted PBX. Thanks to a configuration file created by Auerswald and D&T Internet, the telephones set themselves up automatically after connection to the system and can be put into operation in the shortest possible time.
Aid organisations often have to adapt their local capacities to new conditions at top speed. Humanitarian crisis' triggered by natural disasters or political conflicts then require the establishment of new or the expansion of existing locations. Often though, it is difficult to foresee how the need for personnel and technical equipment will develop. This also applies to the respective telephony solutions, some of which remain unchanged for a longer period of time, but some need to be expanded quickly as additional staff arrive requiring desk phones. The flexibility required for this is only possible if the system connection and telephones can be started up quickly. Complex installations are not usually compatible, neither are classic, hardware-based telephone systems, as setting up software-based systems (soft PBX) on in-house computers or servers would be required. Germany's largest aid organszation, the German Red Cross (DRK), therefore relies on software-based Swyx telephone systems at the Fürstenwalde location that are hosted in the cloud, i.e. operated in external data centers (hosted PBX). These systems are provided by the DRK framework contract partner, D&T Internet, and are available from any DRK location in the shortest possible time. Since the costs are staggered on a participant basis, this model is also optimal for the German Red Cross from a financial point of view.
Choosing Auerswald IP phones
Matching IP phones now naturally also belong to every hosted PBX. When setting up new branch offices in Eisenhüttenstadt and Frankfurt / Oder, the DRK district association Märkisch-Oder-Havel-Spree e.V. decided to use IP telephones from Auerswald. The North German company was already known locally as a manufacturer of high-quality telephone technology, an Auerswald telephone system of the COMmander 6000 RX type is operated in the regional association headquarters in Fürstenwalde. However, this location-related deviation from the framework contract was not up for debate at the new branch offices. The hosted facilities should be used here. This made the availability of user-friendly IP telephones, which could be put into operation quickly and without great technical effort on the cloud systems, all the more important. The Auerswald IP telephones, which had been recommended to the DRK district association by the Regional Telecommunications Specialist, Michael Kraatz, fully met this requirement. Joern Dost, Managing Director of D&T Internet, emphasises. "The operation of the Auerswald IP phones on our Swyx cloud platform was straightforward," said Dost. “In addition, the devices have convinced both us and the DRK with their simple and generally self-explanatory operation, their excellent speech quality, their ergonomic design and visual value. Another important positive for Auerswald being that they are large German manufacturer with great strengths in technical support.”
However, D&T Internet and Auerswald were not yet satisfied with the inherently excellent compatibility of the Swyx systems and Auerswald IP telephones. The two providers jointly pursued the goal of further simplifying the commissioning of the telephones on the hosted PBX, thus enabling an accelerated implementation or expansion of the DRK telephony solutions in Eisenhüttenstadt and Frankfurt / Oder. The background was the allocation of war refugees: they should be optimally cared for at both locations at any time, without initially knowing how many staff and corresponding technical equipment would be needed. "The DRK district association simply didn't know what was going to happen to these two organisational units," recalls Joern Dost. "At the same time, however, there was a desire not to have to invest in telephony equipment, which might then not be needed to such an extent. We therefore faced the challenge of choosing a telephony solution that offers maximum flexibility and can be expanded extremely quickly if required. This also included the speedy connection of external branches, since the German Red Cross anticipated that other buildings would be used to supply and accommodate refugees."
Simplified commissioning through automatic self-configuration
In order to be able to guarantee the fastest possible start-up of every new IP telephone required, D&T Internet developed an autoprovisioning file with continuous support from technicians within Auerswald, integrated into the telephony software and tailored precisely to the operation of the devices on the Swyx system. This is a configuration based on the fact that the telephones set themselves up automatically as soon as they are connected to the Hosted PBX. If a new Auerswald telephone is to be connected to one of the two DRK branch offices, the administrator - the M&K Kraatz - only has to set up another extension in the hosted PBX with a few mouse clicks and enter the serial number of the corresponding device in the system software. If the IP telephone is then connected to the Internet by the user, it immediately establishes an online connection to the hosted PBX and starts the automatic self-configuration (auto provisioning). Manual configuration steps on the part of the administrator or the user are not required. The phone is ready for use after a short time.
In Eisenhüttenstadt and Frankfurt / Oder, Auerswald IP telephones of the type COMfortel 1400 IP and COMfortel 2600 IP are used. The COMfortel 1400 IP is an affordable entry-level device with a color 3.5-inch touch display and 10 individually programmable function keys with integrated status LEDs. The COMfortel 2600 IP offers a wider range of functions and is also suitable for use within in-house telephone exchanges. A coloured 4.3-inch touch display and a total of 15 programmable buttons with multi-colored LEDs guarantee a high level of operating convenience. With the help of key expansion modules, the number of function keys can be increased up to 105, whereby each of these keys can be assigned twice. An integrated telephone book offers space for over 2,000 entries. Both Auerswald IP telephones are prepared for encryption of the connection and call data (via SIPS or SRTP) and thus enable tap-proof telephone calls. Thanks to an integrated VPN client, the devices can also be securely connected as external extensions. Additional functions such as the synchronisation of contact details, appointments and emails with a Microsoft Exchange account or the control of surveillance cameras can also be activated by activation. These are interesting options for the German Red Cross, as both the rapid internal exchange of information and the security of branch offices and assisted accommodations are of great importance. Since there was also a desire to use analog fax machines, an Auerswald COMpact 4000 telephone system was installed at both locations in addition to the IP telephones. As a hybrid system, it supports both analog and IP-based data transmission, making it possible to use analog equipment even with All-IP connections. This means that even older existing devices can be used without any problems if required.
Option also for other DRK locations
The telephony solution installed in the two new branches of the DRK district association, Märkisch-Oder-Havel-Spree e.V., can be implemented at any time in an identical or similar manner at other DRK locations. With the hosted PBX systems administered by D&T Internet and the seamlessly compatible Auerswald IP telephones, components are available that completely cover the DRK-typical telecommunications requirements and enable finely graded solution extensions with calculable and justifiable cost development. The autoprovisioning function especially developed for this combination solution shortens the installation enormously and ensures that the telephones can be put into operation quickly at any time. Because the IP telephones are permanently available from all major distributors, delivery delays are also excluded. In Eisenhüttenstadt and Frankfurt / Oder, one is very satisfied: the quality of all components, the tailored cut and the flexibility of the solution concept have been rated by the responsible IT department as exemplary and fully in line with all requirements.