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Brand X Energy

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BrandX Energy (BX) from its inception has been an innovator and forward-thinking organization often pushing boundaries and charting unknown territories while still maintaining a level of business conservatism that has given shareholders peace of mind and confidence in the business decisions that corporate management has made to reduce expenses and increase profit revenues. One such departure from the mainstream has been BX's interest in implementing VoIP communication services company-wide to reduce expenses related to national and international phone calls and telecommunication services. As most traditional corporations, BX had been implementing a PBX system at the corporate headquarters and at its refinery locations for many years, with pipeline and terminals (P&T) and divisional offices using standard telephone services provided by the local telco. However, with the promises of VoIP, BX has begun a shift in its operating practices with regards to telecommunication services.

BX began quite inconspicuously with one of the smaller refinery operations that the organization owns. BX opted to use this as the first phase of its implementation of VoIP services at one of their Gulf Coast refineries. The overall implementation plan calls for installing VoIP hardware and software for four types of locations: refinery operations, corporate operations, P&T operations and divisional operations. The execution phase started with an installation and beta test at the newest Gulf Coast refinery and hailed as a success. With this triumph, BX has opted to begin rolling out VoIP services at the refinery level first, investigating which refinery locations are prime candidates for the service at this time and which, due to infrastructure costs and service issues with the local telcos, will have to wait until these concerns are fully addressed. The next phase will involve the implementation of VoIP at the corporate headquarters (CHQ) and will utilize the same rudimentary cisco hardware and related software to manage this effort. While the issue is still up for debate at this time, P&T and divisional locations may not be sites for VoIP installations in the same manner as refinery and CHQ operations have due to the technology and administration requirements for such systems. BX however is investigating a more scalable solution by going through local VoIP providers such as Packet8 or Vonage.

Services that BX VoIP solutions will offer are many of the same standard features that are offered through the existing PBX system in place. As the PBX system is phased out, the VoIP solution will be required to meet or exceed the current level of performance that the current PBX solution has been faithfully providing for years. Additionally, as with refinery operations, a complete hardware and software backup will be necessary to enable fault tolerance of the telecommunication system in the even of issues affecting the corporate-area-network (CAN). Some of the features that are currently being implemented at the refinery level and which will be available to the CHQ are standard features such as unlimited minutes for calls made in town as well as nationally and internationally, caller ID and conferencing features. However, unlike regular home use, many business related features will also be incorporated including conferencing features, virtual meeting sockets and the like. This will allow BX to maintain communications with dispersed organizational venues.

Because of the complex nature of the existing voice system currently in place, BX has created and integrated a group of IS professionals whose primary focus is telecommunications and VoIP strategies. While it is true that VoIP services are new to the scene, much of the strategy relies on solid network basics such as routing, IP addressing, protocol switching, etc. The team that is currently in place has been broken down into two very distinct groups: corporate telecommunications and retail telecommunications.



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