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Editor's note: This ShoreTel Connect CLOUD product overview is part of a series on unified communications as a service, or UCaaS. Part one examined the evolution of UC in the cloud, and part two discussed the business case for UCaaS. Part three detailed the purchasing criteria and key features to consider, and part four compared the top vendors in the market.
ShoreTel Connect CLOUD is the vendor's answer to the growing UCaaS market. Introduced in 2015, ShoreTel Connect CLOUD is the evolution of the ShoreTel Sky UCaaS product, but it's certainly not just a rebranded package. The whole system has been redesigned.
As an end-to-end service provider, ShoreTel designs and develops its own phones, voice switches and applications to ensure customers don't experience hardware or software compatibility issues with its products.
Connect CLOUD provides several software and hardware components capable of delivering robust features throughout the organization. For example, IP telephony services -- such as call control, call routing, voicemail, music on hold and auto attendant -- are available throughout an organization, no matter where users are located.
ShoreTel desk-phone features include system directory, intercom, conference calling, call transfer, hold and redial. Users who prefer desktop phone applications can use the ShoreTel Connect desktop app, which provides call control, contacts and event scheduling directly from a PC or Mac.
Providing a diverse set of UC services
ShoreTel's Connect mobility app for Android and iOS can extend desktop phone and UC services directly to users' mobile devices using Secure Real-time Transport Protocol for transmission of voice and UC signals, no matter where users are.
ShoreTel's collaboration suite provides several UC services, including instant messaging, audio conferencing, web collaboration and desktop sharing. Video collaboration and room-based video conferencing -- delivered to desktop and mobile users -- could help organizations cut travel costs. Users can join conference calls via one click, and they don't need dial-in numbers and passcodes.
ShoreTel provides full integration with third-party products, such as Microsoft Outlook, Salesforce, NetSuite and other customer relationship management packages.
Desktop phones supporting the ShoreTel Connect CLOUD service include four models of the IP400 series -- IP485g, IP480, IP480g and IP420 -- and the ShoreTel BB424 programmable button box.
Advanced features augment cloud product
The ShoreTel Connect CLOUD Contact Center can power small to large call centers. Advanced features include overflow protection, automatic call distributor, prioritization of queues and application integration with services such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and NetSuite. Other notable features include configurable hold, call recording, remote agent support, queue metrics, and detailed reporting that tracks line usage and wait times.
The ShoreTel Connect Portal is a browser-based system administration application that lets administrators manage accounts, permissions and billing.
ShoreTel Connect CLOUD is fully hosted in the cloud, which helps alleviate maintenance, management and support for an organization's IT department. Users experiencing problems can access customer support by using the "?" key on their ShoreTel IP phone. ShoreTel resolves service disruptions, software upgrades and any performance problems that accompany them.
Redundancy is also built into ShoreTel Connect CLOUD to enable users to automatically route calls to different locations in case of a WAN failure. As part of ShoreTel's service-level agreement, multiple redundant links are available to ensure no single site is cut off from the service.
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