ShoreTel Inc. has fulfilled its promise to provide one client for accessing unified communications and collaboration (UCC) services, whether customers are using on-premises software, the cloud or a combination of the two.
The UC client is part of the ShoreTel Connect brand introduced this week. The single interface unifies ShoreTel's on-site and cloud UCC options, so customers' employees have only one application to access all services.
"It's a nice architecture," said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research Group Inc., based in Mokena, Ill.
Other vendors, including Tadiran Telecom Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Avaya Inc., also provide one platform for cloud and on-premises UCC. "ShoreTel's differentiator is that they also offer their own SaaS [software as a service] solution, something the others don't have," Lazar said.
ShoreTel's cloud-based UCC stems from the $146.3 million acquisition of M5 Networks in 2012. ShoreTel said in January that it would marry its on-premises and cloud-based software to eliminate having to provide separate user interfaces.
Advantages of a single UC client
The use of a single client makes it more likely customers will add cloud-based services to on-premises software. "The advantage for customers is that they can easily migrate from on-premises to cloud without any end-user disruptions," Lazar said.
In addition, companies will find it easier to increase the number of employees using UCC services or to have those services available as a backup for on-premises software.
The hybrid UC client option lets on-site customers add cloud-based UCC services. Hybrid customers have the option of adding an app for sending and receiving faxes, as well as for voicemail transcription.
ShoreTel is also providing interoperability between Connect software and some third-party customer relationship management (CRM) products. Connect integrates with ACT!, AMS 360, Desk.com, Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, Salesforce and Zendesk.
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