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ShoreTel Common platform: Same UC applications on land or in the cloud

ShoreTel's forthcoming common UC platform gives customers an easy migration path to a hybrid or cloud-based UC approach.

ShoreTel plans to launch a single unified communications (UC) platform in the spring that will give enterprises the option of mixing cloud-based and on-premises applications and services, or choosing to stick with just one of the two models.

ShoreTel's common platform is mostly comprised of software that ShoreTel already owns, including ShoreTel Sky, a cloud-based UC technology gleaned from the company's acquisition of M5 Networks in 2012. ShoreTel Sky will be updated when the common platform is introduced, said Mark Roberts, chief marketing officer for Shoretel.

Customers will have the option of buying physical switches and PBX systems for a premise-based approach, cloud-based UC as a service or a mixture of the two. The products will be sold via ShoreTel's channel partners.

"It really won't matter if you are on a physical switch that sits in the server room [the enterprise] owns, or whether UC is bought as a service. It's the same exact experience to the user," Roberts said.

Premise- and cloud-based software and services have always been two separate entities. Marrying the two typically leads to separate user experiences, even when a single vendor is chosen for both architectures.

The reason for the disconnect typically stems from vendors cobbling together a product portfolio from technologies obtained through several acquisitions, IDC analyst Rich Costello said. As a result, on-premises users may have different UC features or functionality than cloud-based users.

Besides making the UC platform universal, Shoretel will give customers the ability to implement cloud-based UC services at their own pace, Costello said.

"The common platform will facilitate migration to the cloud for many customers, but there are some customers who may not necessarily want to move away from the ownership and control they get with on-premise systems," he said.  

ShoreTel has started testing its common platform, using customers with on-premises only UC, cloud or a mixture of the two, ShoreTel’s Roberts
said. An example of a common hybrid approach is to have on-premises UC applications at the headquarters and cloud-based services at branch offices, he said.

Details around the new platform will be formally announced during ShoreTel's partner conference this April, when the offering is expected to be in late beta.

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

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