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ShoreTel Plugs In Microsoft Skype for Business

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ShoreTel announced Tuesday a new plug-in that embeds telephony controls inside the Skype for Business client, thus providing Microsoft Skype for Business integration with its own phone and UC systems.

“ShoreTel’s commitment to Skype integration is a direct result of listening to our partner community’s feedback on what would help them win in the field,” Heather Tenuto, vice president, worldwide channel programs and sales enablement, told Channel Partners. “ShoreTel Telephony for Microsoft empowers our partners to reach new customers, and we are very excited about the opportunities this will bring.”

The ShoreTel Telephony for Microsoft client enables end users to dial contacts directly from the Skype for Business client as well as launch conference calls, access voice mail, view and set presence information and control other ShoreTel preferences, such as call routing. The move is further recognition that Skype for Business is making major inroads with midmarket and enterprise customers. The new Office 365 for Enterprise E5 offering bundles Office, Exchange, analytics, cloud storage, security and more with unified-communications functionality, such as on-demand conferencing, PSTN and cloud PBX integration, for $35 per seat. {ad}

By providing a plug-in, customers that use ShoreTel UC can keep end users within the garden while enabling them to access Skype.

“ShoreTel Telephony for Microsoft delivers a single application footprint for UC, combining ShoreTel’s voice infrastructure with the Skype for Business desktop client to give users the best of both worlds,” said Jason Evans, managing director of Response Data Communications, a ShoreTel Circle of Excellence partner in the U.K., in a statement. “For partners, it enables us to deliver a robust, cost-effective voice platform that runs alongside the Skype for Business communications application.”

Evan Kirstel, an analyst with UC Strategies and adviser to several technology startups, says moves like this signal a new era of open standards and interoperability.

“Customers are increasingly demanding the ability to mix and match best-of-breed components across the enterprise,” says Kirstel. “The ability to interwork the Skype for Business client directly with ShoreTel infrastructure is new evidence that the unified communications market is maturing, and the closed systems of the past are increasingly left in the dust.”

He expects other vendors to take note and allow customers to build unified communications systems on their terms — the days of dictating a rigid, fixed architecture are over.

“Kudos to Microsoft for opening up their platform to competitors,” he says. “Definitely a sign of the new leadership there.”

ShoreTel Telephony for Microsoft is a client-side integration, so no changes are required to the back-end environment. The plug-in supports Lync 2013, Skype for Business 2015 and Skype for Business 2016 clients in both Office 365 and on-premises environments. ShoreTel does not require a separate license; the plug-in is included in the mid-tier bundle for ShoreTel Connect Cloud and Connect Onsite.


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