For many years, Merit’s network and its high-speed connections to the Internet and Internet2 have been the primary reason that Members have chosen Merit Network as a service provider. Since 2006, Merit has grown its service portfolio to provide more choices and greater value to its Members.
“As Merit has developed services we have taken feedback and suggestions from our Members, both informally and through the Services Innovation Group, to improve our service offerings,” said Elwood Downing, vice president for membership outreach and engagement at Merit Network. “We strive to provide value and cost savings to our Members who subscribe to our services.”
Currently over 40% of Merit’s Members are leveraging their memberships and subscribing to two or more services.
Alpena Community College (ACC) has been connected to Merit’s high-performance network since 2006 and currently uses MeritVoice, Merit Cloud Media, Merit VirtualDataCenters, and Merit Cloud Storage. Their relationship with Merit was a deciding factor in choosing Merit for their multiple services.
“The value, cost effectiveness, and access to Merit have always been a benefit. Merit isn’t like a for-profit Telco,” said Vicky Kropp, co-director of management information systems for Alpena Community College. “Merit strives to create more of a one on one relationship with its customers, which you don’t have with other providers. Using Merit for hosted services has been very cost effective. With the hosted service we have not had to deal with hardware, or additional staffing that we would have needed with an in-house service. It’s helped us maintain the support staff that we have without having to increase our costs.”
“Merit provides a 24 x 7 support center which has always been responsive,” Kropp said. “If we do have an issue that we feel is not being handled correctly, Merit has always provided us with additional direct support resources beyond the network center. We have the type of relationship with Merit where we can call and talk directly to them if needed.”
“We have had a long-term relationship with Merit for dedicated services and have relied on their professional services for setting up our VPN and network. The overall value of the services and our trusted relationship played an important factor in our decisions to continue to utilize Merit services. Approximately two years ago we went through an exhaustive process for voice services and Merit was able to meet our criteria in pricing and services offered. Merit’s network and the reliability of that network played a big factor in our decision that we didn’t find with other carriers,” Kropp said.
“ACC, Merit Network, and other organizations in the Alpena area worked together to create the Northeast Michigan Fiber Consortium. Merit’s commitment to collaboration and community building with a shared vision with the consortium members have helped to build a backbone network in the area. They truly support our community and surrounding areas of Michigan in development and growth. With Merit’s assistance we were able to provide high speed services to our members at an affordable pricing. The organization improved the Internet connections for the City of Alpena, Alpena County, Alpena County Library and others by connecting them to Merit’s backbone network.”
“Merit is a true service partner. Merit’s business model goes beyond just selling a product or a service; they work with their customers to find the best solution. They provide and support their service, and they truly listen to their customers. Merit has worked to provide services to other organizations within the surrounding community and have provided significant cost savings for the services they are providing. It says a lot about who Merit is,” Kropp stated.
Prior to using Merit, Cleary University had been having issues with their Internet service provider, and it was their Internet connection that first caused them to consider Merit.
“What really stood out for Merit was the bandwidth,” said David Bowers, executive director and chief information officer for Cleary University. “We had a series of problems with our ISP, and it was comical how poor the service was. We chose Merit for our Internet connection, and we kind of built from there. We looked at the data center because we were having power management issues.”
Cleary University is connected to Merit’s high-speed network and currently subscribes to Merit Cloud Media, Merit Colocation, MeritMail, and Merit Michigan ID.
“The biggest thing for Cleary is that we’re small. For me to provision a server was too costly, so being able to leverage Merit’s services lets me offer more services without spending a ton. For me to provide the storage and streaming of a video repository would be prohibitive,” Bowers said.
The reliability of Merit’s services has been a benefit for the university and has been well received by the campus population.
“For the most part, faculty and students have been 100% positive. For staff, aside from a few, it’s been all favorable. The uptime has been phenomenal, and it’s been a while since there was an outage. Email has been very reliable,” Bowers noted.
The Merit Support Center (MSC) provides support for Merit’s Members 24-hours-a-day, year-round. The MSC notifies Members of any service issues and resolves any problems that occur. Bowers appreciates the support provided by the MSC.
“Having someone there 24 hours a day is a heck of a comfort. Before having Merit, it was always my phone that rang when there was a problem, and I’d have to take care of things. We’ve had one experience, and all I had to do was call the Merit Support Center to resolve the issue,” Bowers said.
Merit’s professional learning events have also been a plus for Bowers.
“The MITE (Michigan Information Technology Executive) Forum and MJTS are invaluable,” Bowers stated. “The MITE Forum always leads me to have multiple ideas, and the peer relationships are invaluable.”
In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, there are limited choices when it comes to information technology services. “There are very few choices for high-speed Internet, and our services are limited on bandwidth because of our wireless connection,” said Chet Kasper, director of technology at Bay Mills Community College.
In 2013, Bay Mills became a Merit Member and currently subscribes to MeritMail, Merit Cloud Storage, and Merit VirtualDataCenters.
“Merit stopped by and visited us. They gave us a listing of their services, and we liked it. They are also connected to Internet2, and that’s our ultimate goal,” Kasper said.
“Now we enjoy the benefits of web-based email, which is something that we didn’t have before. We no longer have a limit as to how much email we can store in our inbox, and it works with our wireless devices, as well as our desktops and laptops. We now have unlimited storage. We had previously been severely limited on storage. We had POP3 mail, and they discouraged storage on the server. Now we have a central backup for our mail in a secure location,” Kasper said.
Kasper has been very pleased with the customer service he receives from Merit.
“It’s been outstanding. There’s a million web-based email programs, but (Merit) is proactive. They let us know when there’s a problem, and it’s been very stable.”
Bay Mills had previously hosted Moodle on a server, which would be effected by power outages, but they now provide Moodle to their users with Merit VirtualDataCenters (VDC).
“It’s been very stable. We have a lot of power outages up here that last more than 20 minutes, and the outages would take down the Moodle server. Teachers would have to adjust their schedules, but we don’t need to worry about that now. We have a backup copy in case we need it, and the students can no longer blame outages for not finishing their schoolwork. The decision to go with the VDC was speed and the reliability of Moodle. It’s now on a high-speed connection and is very reliable.”
For more information about Merit Network’s service offerings, please visit the services section of the web site or speak to the Merit’s Sales Team at 734-527-5785.