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July 22, 2010

ShoreTel Moves UC Forward with ShoreTel 11: Improves Flexibility, Scalability, Integration

By Brendan B. Read, Senior Contributing Editor

If truly unified communications “UC” i.e. the ability to perform any and every business task on any device, anywhere, anytime can be described as a goal then ShoreTel’s new ShoreTel (News - Alert) 11 UC solution has placed its customers’ users -and the company- within striking distance of reaching it. ShoreTel 11 is aimed says the firm at helping large businesses simplify system management, improve reliability, and lower communications costs, and gives on-the-go workers more choice of mobile devices.

Here are the new features in ShoreTel 11 that have arguably placed the product and the firm in great field position:

*          The ShoreTel Communicator, now renamed from Call Manager to reflect its multichannel capabilities, is now available for the web and for the iPhone (News - Alert), allowing users to manage communications from Macintosh computers and iPhones, along with from BlackBerry and other popular devices.

The Web accessibility permits users to login from anywhere including home and satellite offices, any device and platform and perform most any action including sending calls to voicemail, change call routing and conferencing others into the conversation, reports Kevin Gavin (News - Alert), vice president of marketing, ShoreTel. It avoids having to download special clients or apps onto desktop or wireless devices, which can be a time-consuming nuisance especially for occasional users such as contractors and suppliers. Individuals who are visiting offices can login and use the functionality from that site’s computers.

“Before this new Web client, you would have to install the Windows desktop client to perform most of the telephony functions where you work,” explains Gavin. “For instance, if you wanted to interface with the ShoreTel UC system from home, you had to install the Windows Desktop Application to do so on your home PC. Now, you can access these functions using a browser on your PC or Mac, without installing any application on your home PC.”

ShoreTel Communicator for iPhone is available from the iTunes App Store as a free download. The firm is offering this capability what with the increasing popularity (despite the iPhone 4 hiccup) of Apple’s smartphone with business users.

“It used to be that the BlackBerry (News - Alert) was the mobile device of choice for businesses,” says Gavin. “It is remarkable now how many businesses have gone all towards the iPhone or ‘we’re still running BlackBerry’s but five or 20 percent are running iPhones and they really hate giving up that ShoreTel mobile Call Manager’ which we now call Communicator.”

*          The underlying database can now be installed on remote sites, enabling data such as contact information mirrored at these locations. Distributing the database alleviates potential performance bottlenecks such as the ability of the advanced applications on the ShoreTel Distributed Voice Services (DVS) server to access configuration information locally on a full power-on restart

(Note that the improvement is for the advanced applications as the ShoreTel voice switches restart automatically due to their caching of key information internally)

If a DVS restarts and it doesn’t not have a local copy of the database, it will move up the system and access the parent or HQ database to get needed information

*          Extended legacy PBX (News - Alert) integration capabilities with via expanded support for message waiting indication and call path diversion in the QSIG protocol, making it easier for customers to leverage existing investments and migrate to ShoreTel’s all IP-based UC capabilities over time. QSIG, reports Wikipedia is an ISDN based signaling protocol for signaling between private branch exchanges (PBXs) in a Private Integrated Services Network (PISN).”

As with all previous ShoreTel releases, ShoreTel 11 is available as a free upgrade for current customers with a ShoreTel support contract as part of ShoreTel’s standard support service.

“With this latest system software release, ShoreTel takes another giant leap forward in delivering on the promise of unified communications for organizations of every size,” says Gavin. “ShoreTel 11’s enhanced distributed architecture, new iPhone client, and extended support for legacy PBX systems all drive down deployment costs and TCO, while increasing reliability and flexibility.”

Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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