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ShoreTel Mobility offers video, easier integration for IT

The latest release of the ShoreTel Mobility client includes iOS and Android mobile video conferencing, as well as integration with ShoreTel's deskop Communicator.

ShoreTel recently updated its Mobility client with mobile video conferencing for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. ShoreTel Mobility version 8 also offers integration with ShoreTel's desktop Communicator, and a new deployment option -- the Virtual ShoreTel Mobility Router.

ShoreTel Mobility client, now with video calling, mobile call control

ShoreTel previously offered video on its unified communications (UC) desktop client Communicator, but not the mobile client, said Edward Wright, senior director of product management for ShoreTel. "Mobility 8 delivers one-click to simple, easy video that works across any network that you could transport a VoIP call over -- like corporate Wi-Fi, hotspot or carrier network," he said. The new software also enables employees to communicate via video, regardless of whether they are using an iOS or Android- based mobile device.

Previous versions of the ShoreTel Mobility client offered directory integration, instant messaging and presence capabilities, as well as call routing between the deskphone and mobile device. Version 8 now offers a more complete integration between the mobility app for smartphones and tablets, and the ShoreTel Communicator desktop call-control suite. Now users can communicate via video from the desktop or mobile device -- whichever better suits their collaboration needs at the moment, Wright said.

"The enhancement is really in the usability," said Rich Costello, senior research analyst for UC and enterprise communications infrastructure at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC. "The one-touch from the keypad functionality makes [the mobility client] more of a unified offering, and users don't have to do three or four things to get connected to call or room-based video system."

ShoreTel Communicator, a client for Windows PCs, has always allowed users to extend control of their ShoreTel deskphones from a desktop PC. Now, users will also be able to control communications to their mobile devices from their desktops, an especially attractive feature for ShoreTel Dock users, Wright said. The ShoreTel Dock is a thin client deskphone, which users can connect to their iPhones or iPads. The dock runs the ShoreTel Mobility app. The smartphone or tablet serves as the "brains" of the deskphone, and allows users to work with a familiar interface and use their mobile devices as a deskphone when appropriate, while still being able to disconnect the mobile device and take calls away from the dock.

"[Users] can dock their iPhone, which will then fire up the ShoreTel Mobility app," Wright said. "Then on my desktop, I can type in a name in the ShoreTel Communicator and dial the contact on the docked mobile device, just like it would work if the user was on a ShoreTel executive deskphone. In the middle of the call, I can disconnect the phone and walk off with the [call]."

In addition to greater control and video communication between mobile devices and the ShoreTel Communicator, the new software also enables multi-party video calls between mobile devices and room-based systems, such as Lifesize and Polycom, which use the H.264 industry video standard.

"We wanted to take the ShoreTel Mobility client and integrate it with the rest of the ShoreTel UC portfolio to really allow the mobile device to be an extension of their [enterprise] UC environment," he said. "The same [capability] that users expect to have on their deskphone or UC desktop client is on their mobile device."

New ShoreTel Mobility virtual deployment option

The latest software update includes a virtualized ShoreTel Mobility Router -- a network appliance that extends voice, UC capabilities and security to mobile devices. ShoreTel Mobility is the last of ShoreTel's products to be virtualized, following its application servers and ShoreGear voice switches for call control, as well as its collaboration bridge. ShoreTel Mobility Router manages the handoff of voice and video traffic across the enterprise wireless LAN, the internal voice network and cellular networks.

The mobility router allows enterprises to save on telecom costs by moving voice calls from cellular networks to the enterprise VoIP network, and the virtual deployment option can lower hardware costs by allowing enterprises to deploy ShoreTel Mobility software on a VMWare hypervisor.

"There is cost savings associated with going to the virtual router, as well as the ability [to] scale more quickly," IDC's Costello said. "Especially if you're looking to go mobile, more users could be added all the time, [so businesses] need to be able to scale easier."

But while virtualization is becoming more compelling to a variety of businesses, this strategy will still vary by organization, he said. "It's still going to depend on what the organization is doing and if they want to continue with on-premise equipment," Costello said. "UC projects might not be as high priority to virtualize as some networking projects."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, news writer, and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.

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