'Clean And Green' VoIP Gives VAR An Edge

One solution provider, Rochester, N.Y.-based ICS Telecom, is taking the green movement one step further, illustrating for potential customers the sometimes forgotten power consumption of VoIP systems from three leading vendors. ICS has created a document titled "The Power of Power and the Hidden Cost of a VoIP Deployment," which outlines the power requirements and costs to run VoIP systems from Mitel, Nortel Networks and Cisco Systems, with Mitel leading the pack for the lowest power costs.

ICS's green VoIP push started sometime last winter as the green technology movement started to take hold of the industry.

"Two things collided: The amount of press on the green movement and how different our Mitel products are," said ICS executive vice president Robert Hanaka. "In the sales arena, you're looking for an opportunity to have an edge and the more we learned [about going green] the more it became important to us. The whole green thing has really caught fire this year."

Hanaka said power costs have become increasingly important to his customers, while reducing their impact on the environment is also becoming a main driver for technology upgrades. That cost and environmental consciousness prompted Hanaka and ICS to craft a document comparing the wattage used by various VoIP vendors' equipment, including main controllers, multilined phones and signaling servers and highlighting the costs to run those systems over a 9-year period.

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Hanaka said ICS Telecom's research found Mitel the most power efficient, consuming 3,493 kilowatts per hour, compared to Nortel consuming 11,700 kilowatts per hour and Cisco drawing 13,968 kilowatts per hour. That difference significantly changes the power costs to run the VoIP system, with a Mitel system costing $4,610 annually compared to Nortel's $15,444 and Cisco's $18,437.76.

The lifecycle costs to run 500 VoIP devices over a 9-year period, with a 5 percent annual increase in power costs, for a Mitel system hits $50,834, while the competing systems from Nortel and Cisco reach $178,808 and $203,307, respectively, ICS found.

Hanaka said using the document has helped him crack into some relatively large accounts that are starting to scrutinize not only cost savings, but power consumption as a key decision maker when it comes to deploying new solutions. Mitel, he said, consistently consumes less power than its competitors.

"Mitel has done a tremendous job turning out low power consuming solutions," he said.

ICS Telecom's approach scored big points with Maxim Management Services, a Buffalo-based medical services organization. Maxim was in the process of constructing a new building, which required a new phone system. Having ICS present the green edge of a Mitel system was a key deciding factor.

"Anytime we can conserve it definitely weighs on our decision," said Randy Coleman, Maxim's vice president and CIO.

He said having additional information about power consumption helped him go before the new building's tenants with hard numbers and cost savings figures, which were valuable tools.

"It makes you feel good about what you bought," he said.

Timothy Vaeth, vice president of development for Ciminelli Development, a Buffalo-based commercial real estate firm, agreed.

"Any time we look into making an investment, we look at the lifecycle and lifecycle costs and the power consumption," he said, adding that the hidden power costs of phone systems are sometimes easy to overlook. "It's got to be the most efficient system we can find. Being able to quantify that and see the numbers is valuable."

And for a company like Ciminelli, which prides itself on using power-efficient gear for everything from light fixtures to computer equipment, having those numbers laid out by ICS helps with the decision process.

"This is something we are actually searching out we knew that we wanted to go with the provider that had the best lifecycle costs," Vaeth said, saying that can make or break a deal.

"People don't usually look at communications as being part of a green initiative," Anne Duggan, Ciminelli Development's marketing director, added.

Hanaka said the feedback from Vaeth and Coleman echo that of other customers who are attracted by ICS's power efficiency and cost effectiveness message but are further impressed by Mitel's capabilities.

"We don't get a lot of fight from it," he said. "It has definitely been a positive impact. It's something in the win column for us because it is driving the discussion. They hear a different story from us. It's a different message. It's clean and green."