A lightning strike with devastating impact
When lightning struck the independent K-12 school where Mr Mike Parker was working as Head of IT, he knew the impacts would be serious.
Amongst other damage, the strike crippled the school’s telephony system, destroying copper phone wires and frying the existing phone system across the entire campus. The school was left with a phone system that could only receive inbound calls, and even these were unreliable.
In short, they had a major communication and privacy problem.
“The biggest problem was not being able to make outbound calls from the school system,” Mr Parker says. “You can assume that just about everyone has a mobile phone. But if you’re a teacher, you don’t want parents to have your mobile number because they’ll call you – and they’ll start calling on the weekends and after school.”Mr Mike Parker, Head of IT
To meet the requirements of the headmaster and the insurance company, Mr Parker had to investigate several IT partners and technology products, before selecting those that he felt would best deliver on value and reliability.
It’s all about mindset
As a former Senior Systems Administrator at NASA, Mr Parker had the technical expertise to know exactly what to look for when assessing the partnership and technology options available.
“We were looking for technical expertise, but also a certain mindset,” Mr Parker says. “A lot of companies will take an easy route. They’ll say, ‘we only support this sort of technology’, and that’s a problem – because if you want to look outside of that box, they won’t do it. This strategy has its advantages, but it also can make IT staff lazy in their thinking and lazy in their habits.”
This is where NetStrategy emerged as the leading option, due to their flexibility with technology options and the way they approached implementation.
“One of the things I appreciate is that even though NetStrategy has certain technologies that they prefer, they can support some additional things that not everyone can,” Mr Parker says. “When I need strong technical expertise on a project, I know that I can count on NetStrategy. I have confidence that even if I ask them for a totally different solution to what they propose, they’ll be able to implement it properly.”
Mr Parker was looking for an IT partner that not only had technical expertise, but was willing to work in a different way to the norm.
“Most schools will be completely hands-off with a telephony implementation project and have the partner take care of the whole job,” Mr Parker says. “I asked NetStrategy’s technicians to work with our internal IT team hand-in-hand, via screensharing. This allowed our internal team to be upskilled in the new technology, and added value for our team through knowledge transfer. It’s a bit like requesting a professional mentorship, rather than an IT tech coming in and fixing everything.”
Prepped for the future
With the Zultys telephony system successfully implemented through a true partnership between NetStrategy and Mr Parker’s IT team, the school community could once again communicate with ease.
On top of this, the new system didn’t face the same liabilities as the old one – as the new system primarily used fibre optic cables. The school was now prepped for the future, and their IT team knew they wouldn’t have to deal with the same issue again.
Although Mr Parker has since moved on from the school to start his own consulting business within the education sector (Parker IT), he still keeps NetStrategy in mind for future projects.
“I’m always interested in working with people and companies that can teach me something that I don’t know or that I can’t easily find,” Mr Parker says. “In this industry, that sort of knowledge is just so valuable. That’s part of why working with NetStrategy has been great – they’re experts in their field.”