infoTECH Feature

June 02, 2011

ShoreTel 12 Doubles Capacity, Adds New Collaboration Appliance

ShoreTel (News - Alert) reported its best quarter to date with $51.6 million in revenue for Q1FY11 and 39 percent growth year-over-year. ShoreTel also highlighted increasing sales to larger enterprises and growing international revenue that now comprises 12 percent of the business with revenue in the EMEA region up 66 percent year-over-year, APAC up 40 percent and Canada up 100 percent. Coinciding with the positive financial report, ShoreTel announces ShoreTel 12, a new version of its call processing software with increased scalability to 20,000 users in a single system image, and the new Service Appliance 100 (SA-100) for audio, Web conferencing and IM services (replaces Converged Conferencing).

ShoreTel 12 is a Committed Release that is orderable now and will ship to new customers beginning in mid-June; Release 12 will be generally available for existing ShoreTel customers around the October timeframe. ShoreTel’s Enterprise Contact Center (new version 7) adds Personal Agent Queues, Web-based management and new reporting and diagnostic tools. Read more about ShoreTel 12 and Contact Center 7 below and visit for more on IP PBX (News - Alert) market offers.

ShoreTel 12 is the latest version of the company’s call control software that runs within a unique distributed architecture that differs from the typical PBX configuration. The architecture includes ShoreTel Voice Switches, each of which contain the system call control software, but which also provide trunk and station connections (typical PBXs have one unit that runs the call control software with card slots or attached gateways for trunk and station connection). There are several ShoreTel Voice Switch varieties for different combinations of IP phones and analog/digital trunking and analog phones, and these switches, each running call control (and some also running voicemail), are stacked as needed to meet capacity; spare switches can be deployed for redundancy. All users, regardless of physical location, are connected and managed as a single IP network with feature transparency between all locations.

Increased Capacities

ShoreTel 12 doubles the user capacity, allowing scalability to 20,000 local or remote users in a single system image (up from 10,000). Up to 500 ShoreTel voice switches can be connected anywhere on the IP network to handle a maximum of 20,000 total users. This total can include up to 20,000 IP phone users or up to 5,000 analog phone users. The number of trunk groups is increased to 500 (up from 250), while the system total for trunks remains at 10,000. A distributed network can include 500 sites.

New Collaboration Appliance

ShoreTel 12 addresses the UC experience with the Service Appliance 100 (SA-100), a new hardware appliance (managed by ShoreTel Director) for audio and Web conferencing and instant messaging services. SA-100 has functionality over and above ShoreTel’s earlier Converged Conferencing solution. SA-100 embeds an XMPP server, utilizing the XMPP (eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) standard for instant messaging which facilitates interoperability with third party IM clients. For example, a Mac user with iChat software for instant messaging can communicate via IM with both Mac and Windows users. In addition, SA-100 supports wide-band codecs (G.722) for high definition audio quality (Converged Conferencing only supported the G.711 codec). Also, with SA-100, participation in a Web conference does not require any preliminary downloads or installations (Converged Conferencing required an ActiveX download). Users can schedule or create spontaneous conferences and reservation-less conferences using a Web interface without IT assistance, and Microsoft (News - Alert) Outlook scheduling is simplified. Personal and public libraries for document management, whiteboarding sessions and file sharing are also new capabilities.

A single SA-100 supports 50 audio, 30 Web and 500 IM users with a maximum of 50 audio and 30 Web users participating in one conference. Up to five SA-100 appliances can be deployed throughout a ShoreTel distributed network for additional capacity (per conference capacity remains at 50 audio and 30 Web users). The SA-100 services can be centralized or distributed since the new appliance is entirely managed through ShoreTel Director, the company’s management interface (the earlier Converged Conferencing server was managed separately from ShoreTel Director).

Additional ShoreTel 12 enhancements include Microsoft Outlook and Exchange UM 2010 integration, as well as presence status information displayed within Microsoft Outlook or Word (smart tags). A new ShoreTel Communicator for Mac client has Mac-specific features such as dialing contacts from the Mac Address Book (previously ShoreTel Communicator for Web was the only option for Apple (News - Alert) Macintosh users).

Contact Center 7

ShoreTel introduced a new version of its Enterprise Contact Center (version 7), improving the customer service capabilities with Personal Agent Queues for queuing and routing calls to specific agents based on pre-defined logic and scripting rules.  Functionality includes routing a customer call to an agent spoken to previously or allowing an agent to answer a higher priority call, while placing an existing call into the personal queue. An agent can also transfer a call to another agent’s personal queue, perhaps one that has a history of interaction with the customer. Supervisors can monitor queue activity of each agent and view real-time and historical reports.

Contact Center 7 also adds support for 100 simultaneous supervisors and a Web-based management interface accessible via Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox browsers. New reporting functionality stores 24 months of statistics for longer archiving and trend reporting and adds a real-time outbound campaign report. New diagnostics show snapshots of current calls and views of external database connections.

Contact Center 7 is also a Committed Release that is orderable now and already shipping to new customers, with general availability for existing ShoreTel customers expected in mid-June 2011.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.

Sandra M. Gustavsen, business VoIP analyst, contributes her Business VoIP column to TMCnet. To read more of Sandra's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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