ShoreTel 12 Pursues Unrivalled UC Integration

by Matt Klassen on June 1, 2011

Since its inception over a decade ago, ShoreTel has branded itself and its phone systems as the simple alternative to the complexity of the bigger market players. In fact, as the company’s tag-line states, its products and services are “brilliantly simple,” and the latest release of its IP-based unified communications (UC) phone platform, ShoreTel 12 (hereafter ST12) is no different.

The brilliance of ST12, released last month, lies not only in its trademark simplicity, but in its pursuit of full UC integration, a feature that ShoreTel is hoping will distinguish its brand in a competitive market. In fact, while ShoreTel still trails its chief rivals Avaya and Cisco in the UC sector, there’s little question that ST12 embodies the spirit of the business communication solutions provider; a simple, straightforward phone system that is easy to deploy and even easier to manage.

But simplicity aside, with ST12 ShoreTel has finally born the fruit of its Agito acquisition last year, employing technology that extends UC capabilities to your smartphone…innovation that only scratches the surface of what ST12 offers.

“Brilliantly Simple.” It’s a bold claim, one that ShoreTel has used repeatedly to differentiate itself from Avaya and Cisco’s more involved business communication platforms. Yet despite this claim to simplicity, ShoreTel prides itself on not skimping on the details, providing users with the same rich communications experience that they would get with the company’s closest competitors.

ShoreTel achieves this simplicity by employing a unique system architecture, as Enterprise VoIP Planet’s Ted Stevenson explains, a system wherein, “call control is distributed through the network—over as many locations as the customers has—via intelligent gateways that ShoreTel calls ‘voice switches.’ Only the primary server ‘image’ is centralized; other services and features reside on ‘appliances’ in the various locations.”

One of the key features, according to ShoreTel chief marketing officer Kevin Gavin, is ST12’s UC integration. “We, like our competitors, have offered UC solutions that in the past had separate UC solutions that were bolted on and made available and integrated at certain touch points…”With ShoreTel 12 it is the first time that UC is tightly integrated into the core fabric of the PBX and not bolted on.”

Beyond that, ShoreTel’s newest appliance available with ST12—Service Appliance 100—offers the most attractive features of the whole package, HD quality audio conferencing, XMPP-based instant messaging, integrated Microsoft Outlook scheduling, zero-download desktop sharing, and audio recording, features that place it, in my mind at least, among the most attractive communication solutions on the market.

In the end, ShoreTel12 will undoubtedly be very attractive to the enterprise sector, allowing businesses of all sizes to utilize UC technology, without having to worry about complicated technology, and that’s good news for ShoreTel as it looks to continue its upward climb in the UC market.

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